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Morning Shots

And the Ayes Have It

Maryland’s Montgomery County Board of Education has approved its first charter school. It was a long road for Crossway Community, a local nonprofit organization, to open its Montessori-based elementary school, but in recent months it gained the support of Superintendent Joshua Starr and former superintendent Jerry D. Weast.

It’s being hailed as a “historic moment in Montgomery County,” as it should be, but this also provides credence at the national level to the idea that charter schools have a place in more affluent suburbs where test scores and graduation rates are higher.

Even in rich districts, there are students who are not getting the attention or type of education they need. In Montgomery County, those families will now have a choice.

Nationally, this is a battle that is just starting to take shape. New Jersey is one area that is in the midst of its own fight (see The Next Charter Battlefront: Suburbs). Yet, as the charter movement puts up victory after victory in these suburbs, the tide is turning to give families more options.

Charter opponents you have been put on notice.

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Save the Status Quo, March Against Freedom

By now, you’ve likely heard that the anti-reform establishment will be marching the streets of D.C. this weekend in an effort to “Save Our Schools.” The participating groups want to restore parent and student influence in education.

There’s only one problem with that – they don’t.

The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers – two unions that have done everything in their power from distorting the truth and lying to intimidation and lawsuits to stop any reform that takes their control and gives it to parents – are driving this rally.

These groups fight charter school openings across the country. For example they are currently stumping against a Mandarin immersion charter in Milburn, New Jersey.

They’ve sued multiple times to stop or delay school choice bills from taking effect. The teachers association now has a lawsuit in Indiana to stop low-income students in failing schools from using a voucher to attend a different school of their parent’s choice.

They are even fighting the “Parent Trigger” law that was passed in California and allows parents to initiate changes to a school, like converting it to a charter, if a majority of parents agree and sign a petition.

It’s the same coalition of the past 35 years that just wants the status quo. Reform to them is about money, control and no high-stakes tests or accountability.

In each case above, and the dozens of ones not mentioned, these groups are eliminating the influence parents and students have, not moving it forward.

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Setting the record straight in PA

The Scranton Times felt the wrath (ok, it was a measured response) of Sen. Jeffrey Piccola (R-PA) over a piece they published last week on the school choice legislation the senator and others pushed for this past session.

Sen. Piccola’s letter wanted to make clear that the voucher portion of the legislation always focused “on rescuing needy students and their families from the failure of the current system and providing them with the choice for a better education…” Not ALL commonwealth students like the editorial pointed out. Additionally, Sen. Piccola address the fact that countless public hearings and committee discussions were devoted to the evaluation process of the bill.

Pennsylvania proved to be a tough school choice nut to crack this session. But in his letter, Sen. Piccola re-ups his commitment to school choice and declares that Gov. Tom Corbett and House leaders are onboard.

Let’s hope that we’ll finally see the cooperation necessary to expand PA choice this fall.

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