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A School of Choice

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”

This is the motto found on Columbus Preparatory Academy’s (CPA) website — a K-8 public charter school in Columbus, Ohio that’s not only earned a National Blue Ribbon distinction, but has also been recognized with an “Excellent with Distinction” award for four consecutive years.

Because public charter schools are free from traditional rules and regulations, while still being held accountable for results, CPA is able to help students succeed using an innovative curriculum and methodology called The Blitz©.

“The Blitz© is an exciting way to teach students to create, motivate, be a team player, and above all, be responsible for their own success in testing and academics. It is a year-long data tracking tool that customizes each individual student’s learning experience based on strengths and learning opportunities.”

CPA implemented The Blitz© in 2009 in part to respond to the challenges it was facing, such as inconsistent leadership, enrollment, teacher turnover, and parent involvement. During the school’s first few years, CPA was deemed a school in academic emergency by the Ohio Department of Education.

However after implementing The Blitz©, the school was able to achieve excellence, creating a culture that “embScreen Shot 2016-01-25 at 5.57.55 PModies a collaborative momentum toward closing the achievement gap… and a school-wide drive toward excellence, every student at CPA feels like a champion.”

Schools of choice like CPA are able to overcome challenges because they’re free from the traditional bureaucracy and red tape that can limit a school’s ability to innovate.

Today we celebrate schools of choice like CPA that are committed to doing whatever it takes to meet students’ needs and the policies that allow them the freedom and flexibility to do what

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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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