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Hear Our Voices, Save Our Choices – #SaveTheChartersBmore

Maryland borders the District of Columbia, home to countless charter schools and educational options, yet ranks an abysmal number 43 for Parent Power. The state has a weak charter law and school boards that are controlled by the unions’ interests. Despite the obstacles, the city of Baltimore has been able to open several charter schools. Parents in the city are rallying in support of the effectiveness of Baltimore’s charters — as their children’s future hangs in the balance. The highly successful KIPP Baltimore and eight other charters in the city are suing the city school district for unfair and unjust funding practices. Though charter schools traditionally do more with less, in Baltimore, the district spends 37% less annually on charter school pupils than their traditional public school counterparts. The new district funding formula will force district’s 34 charter schools to scale back because of insufficient funds. For instance, KIPP Baltimore will face $12 million in losses.

In response to the district’s dramatic shift in funding, parents, grandparents, students, teachers and administrators have taken to twitter and to the streets using #SaveTheChartersBmore. The rally in Baltimore had over 1,500 attendees and major media outlets covered the rally. SaveTheChartersBmore.com provided the matching t-shirts, and those fighting for transparency in Baltimore schools said the day had a loving atmosphere. Now, Baltimore must join the other states and cities and fight to keep and grow effective charter schools. When the district stops being accountable, it’s sad that protest becomes a necessary tool to save parents’ educational options for their kids. I hope the city of Baltimore hears the voices of the families protesting and rethinks redistributing funding away from charters — charters that are

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The Beginning: CER Intern Chronicles

I am a bit of a nomad. As a kid I moved across the country multiple times; Hawaii, California, South Dakota, Arizona, and South Carolina. Now I am living and working in Washington DC, but I always struggle when people ask me where I am from. It’s a serious identity crisis.

But when people ask me what I want to do when I graduate, or what I am passionate about, I respond with no hesitation or internal debate. “I love education policy.”

Since beginning a policy research project at my first Washington DC summer internship with the Council of State Government (CSG), and picking up my first policy report on school leadership, I knew that I was in love with education policy and research. I have always enjoyed my time spent in school, but I never expected that I would pursue a career in education. However, the more I have learned about the flaws plaguing the schools, especially those in our urban centers, the more I feel compelled to be a part of the solution.

I am not sure exactly where I will fit into the broader picture of improving urban education for the United States, but this semester I am spending the first part of my senior year at Wofford College studying and working in Washington DC. I am spending my mornings working in Senator Tim Scott’s office; I chose to work with him because of his commitment to school choice policies and position on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

And in the afternoons I am excited to be working with the Center for Education Reform. I believe that splitting my time between the US Senate and a nationally known education organization will give me a unique and diverse perspective on education policy, research, advocacy, and

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Washington Yu Ying Charter School Recognized For Excellence By Michelle Obama

This weekend, First Lady Michelle Obama, Madame Peng, wife of President Xi of China, and students from the Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School, attended the naming ceremony of the new baby panda at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. (his name is Bei Bei!) At this ceremony, the Yu Ying School was recognized by Michelle Obama for being part of the steps forward toward reaching the goal that President Obama and President Xi established: an initiative to teach one million students in the U.S. to speak Mandarin Chinese by the year 2020, the One Million Strong initiative.

Yu YingModeled after a girls’ school founded in 1911 in Beijing, China, the Yu Ying Charter School provides Chinese language immersion with the structured inquiry approach of the International Baccalaureate. The school provides children in grades PreK-5 with the opportunity to a quality public education and Chinese language and culture immersion.

Michelle Obama recognized that students at the Yu Ying School are among the first to be in an immersive school that promotes the idea of global citizenship, and the ability to connect with people around the world due to their early exposure to a different language and culture. She emphasized that this generation does not need to leave the country to be exposed to the rest of the world. That all is attainable with Internet access, and that Yu Ying students have the ability to extend their community across the world as they have the skills to do so. The First Lady encourages students worldwide to follow the Yu Ying students in their journey to expand their communities past language and cultural barriers.

Karina Lichtman, CER Intern

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