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Mississippi’s Charter School Law: A Sad But Sitting Duck for a Lawsuit

A group claiming to work against poverty has filed a lawsuit against Mississippi’s fledgling and very modest charter school law that was intended to help poor kids. This is ironic at best, and harmful to kids, at worst. The Southern Poverty Law Center should be about eradicating poverty through the very foundation that holds the key to a child’s future and upward mobility – education! That great charter schools all over the nation are solving the achievement gap for the poor should be their model.

But then again, Mississippi’s charter school law was a sitting duck. sittingduck

As we argued when it was being debated, proponents should have demanded a law that allows for authorizing by school districts and universities, and provide for a high number of charters that could create a natural support base from the get-go. Allowing for institutions already publicly approved to spend taxpayer dollars to authorize charter schools not only avoids the creation of new bureaucracies but is legally sound.

Charter commissions, while held up as model, are fraught with challenges. In the few states that have them, commissions are becoming agents of charter-loathing state education departments who tack on more regulations and have narrow views of what innovation really is in public education.

That’s why we support and are advocating for strong laws that provide for multiple authorizers, a high or no cap on schools, fiscal equity and operational autonomy.

Laws that don’t provide for these are not laws worth having. They take just as much political capital to pass as does a pilot or weak law, but once enacted, they create more momentum to withstand increasing political pressure to roll back and over-regulate.

Like a weak-kneed bully who goes after the smallest kid on the block, Mississippi’s

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A Call to Action for Renewed Focus on REAL Education Reform

by Steven Guttentag, President of Connections Education

On Wednesday June 15th, I attended a lunch at the National Press Club at the invitation of Jeanne Allen, founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform, and a long-time, tireless and effective supporter of choice and charters. At this event, Jeanne unveiled The New Opportunity Agenda, a manifesto for renewed energy, strategy and action around education innovation and opportunity.

In a nutshell, Jeanne and the panel argued that the progress made over the last 25 years around creating educational choices for all parents (not just the privileged few who can afford private schools) and the development of new educational models, practices and pedagogy, is starting to wane. In some cases, it seems to be even going backwards. She provided a wake- up call to education reformers and asked all of us, across the ideological spectrum, to find common ground around the “twin values of opportunity and upward mobility.”

As someone who has been on the front lines of education reform my entire career, first as a teacher in the District of Columbia Public Schools, then as an administrator in the School District of Philadelphia and now as a co-founder and president of Connections Education, a company supporting K-12 online and blended learning in schools and school systems across the country for 15 years, this was a message for which I had been waiting. Attempting to innovate within our public education system is a constant battle to fit a square peg into a round hole—to justify, to explain, to try to comply with antiquated rules and regulations.

Joining Jeanne at the front of the room in support of this change agenda was John Engler, Former Governor of Michigan, David Levin, President and CEO of McGraw-Hill Education, and Donald Hense, Chair and

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DCOSP Parents to Capitol Hill: “Please don’t let this program go away”

Since 2004, 6,385 low-income students have attended private schools through the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP), with 90% graduating from high school and 88% continuing their education at a two-year or four-year college. However, DCOSP is authorized through the end of FY2016.

On Tuesday, June 12, The Parent Network for Better Education held a seminar to educate Capitol Hill staff on the importance of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program. Parents shared how their children’s experience in school evolved since the scholarship and discussed how critical the program is for many DC families.

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Here are a just a few of the important parent highlights from the event:

Felix Adeliyi
Felix was ecstatic when his children were accepted for the Opportunity Scholarship Program. Felix applied to the program to provide his children with the best possible educational opportunities available to them.

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“My daughter would call the teacher at 11 o’clock at night when she would get stuck with her homework. I asked why are you calling that teacher, she is sleep. She said, ‘because that teacher is like a mother to me.’ I see her wanting to go to school everyday. She wakes me up wanting to go. It teaches her behavior that will lead her to grow.”

 

 

 

 

Francine Johnson
Johnson is a mother who lives in Ward 5 and her daughter attends Archbishop Carroll High School where she is currently in the 10th grade.

“My daughter is an DCOSP student and is much more confident. She is already talking about going to college and academically

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