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A Leader’s Choice

“It’s not an experiment anymore. It’s not a demonstration. It’s not a what-if. After 20 years, we have overwhelming evidence . . . of kids, parents, families who have found what they were looking for in the charter school movement here in the Commonwealth of Mass.”

Those are words from Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker as he addressed the crowd of parents, educators and advocates at the State House last week as they prepared to press lawmakers to lift the cap on charter schools.

Since October 2015, the Governor has been pushing legislation that would allow 12 new or expanded charter schools statewide annually in low-performing districts.

While eliminating caps completely and allowing for independent authorizers could really help charter schools grow and thrive in the Bay State, the expansion would without a doubt be a positive step forward, as the state has nearly the s37000kidsMAchartersame number of children on charter school wait lists (about 37,000) as they do enrolled in public charter schools (approximately 40,000). Compared to traditional district schools, public charter school students in Massachusetts score proficient or advanced in all subject tests at every grade level. In fact, some of the state’s urban charter schools with populations that are mostly low-income and minority students are ranked among some of the best schools in the state.

“Governor Baker is putting a lot of political capital on the line for school choice for some of the poorest students in the state,” Mary Kissel of the Wall Street Journal notes. Despite the fact that charter schools have disrupted traditional public education in positive ways, there’s still reluctance and backlash to expand choices because of pushback from groups like the teacher’s union interested in maintaining the status quo.

From the

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State of the States: How Do Our Governors Stack Up on Education?

Governors all over the country are in the midst of delivering their State of the State addresses, laying out their reflections on the last year and where they plan to go this year. What better time than during National School Choice Week for reformers to compare and challenge – what’s your chief executive’s record compared to when he or she ran for office and what have they done?

CER’s Educationfifty.com offers analysis on where governors stand on three core edreform tenets: 1) strong charter school laws, 2) meaningful school choice, and 3) strong teacher quality efforts, providing information to help you gauge whether they are acting on their original commitments, today.

From Boston, Mass. where there is a major cap lift going on and a governor that’s been true to his promises, to Tennessee where progress toward full vouchers for the most needy is finally on a positive path and holds hope for that governor’s initial promises, it’s important to not just know but highlight how state chief executives are doing in ensuring innovation thrives in our schools.

With states our laboratories for change, it’s a critical time just one month into the new year to take stock.

Here’s a list of State of the State addresses that have already occurred, and whether or not education reform was addressed (Click on a state’s name to be taken to full Education50 analysis):

Alaska
Gov. Walker’s State of the State address touched on the need to ensure high-quality educators for Alaska’s children.

Arizona
Gov. Ducey, in his State of the State address, discussed philanthropic foundations that are investing into the state education system and his intent to partner with them to expand opportunities for low-income children (and to further arts and sciences programs).

California
Gov. Brown’s State of

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A Family’s Choice

From the Nevada Public Public Policy Research Institute comes this story of a couple who have made it their mission to help low-income children through education, and whose dreams may be shattered by the anti-reform efforts of unions and other groups to block Nevada Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) in court from becoming reality in the classroom.

Starting as educators in Detroit, DaJuane and Tamara Anderson moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and founded The Anderson Academy of Mathematics and Science, a private school “with the sole purpose” of helping at-risk students succeed with their education.”

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“So many parents in this community have a one-track mind when it comes to private schools,” DaJuane told the Nevada Policy Research Institute. “They think all private schools are expensive, far away or not designed for struggling minority students. We want to tear down that perception.”

Nevada’s new Education Savings Account (ESA) program made the $500-a-month tuition more feasible for low-income families searching for an alternative to their assigned neighborhood school failing to meet their child’s learning needs.

Sadly, Nevada’s program is in legal limbo right now because it is being challenged by a group of parents and the ACLU in two different lawsuits, threatening the potential for more parents to give their own children the dream of a great education, and not just parents who want better education opportunities for their children, but parents who want to CREATE better education opportunities for kids, like The Andersons.

Today we celebrate families helping other families make it possible to make the best possible choice for their children’s education.

This is one of a series of posts highlighting numerous diverse opportunities from towns to nations for Read More …

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