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THIS IS YOUR LIFE, charter schools!

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As you’ve probably heard, charter schools celebrated their foundational birthday this month. All the tributes remind us of an episode of This is Your Life, in which numerous people pay tribute to the icon being celebrated.

So today, we join those celebrating charter schools again, because of their long history of successfully changing the paradigm of education in this nation, showing how public schools can be different, and how they can achieve for kids at much greater rates, given the flexibility to do so.

Take a trip down memory lane with us, then, in this video of How Charter Laws Really Got Started. Long before most of today’s reformers were around, there were pioneers fighting for the right to do public education differently.

That they succeeded is the reason we are celebrating today.

Happy Birthday, Charter Schools.

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A Charter Advocate’s Lament

A poem for charter school advocates, adapted from the famous words of Pastor Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the virtual charters, and I did not speak out—

Because I don’t run a virtual charter.

 

Then they came for the single campus schools, and I did not speak out—

Because I run a charter network.

 

Then they came for the EMOs, and I did not speak out—

Because I run a nonprofit network of charter schools.

 

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

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Why Innovators Can’t Get a Seat at the Ed Tech Table

It’s official. American public schools are now the world’s largest purchaser of iPads. And we thought that award went to moms who just want to get the laundry done.

In 2016, it’s no longer possible to argue that the age of digital education has yet to arrive. Walk into any classroom across the country and you’ll see teachers and students engaging with and learning from digital content. In fiscal year 2015 alone, American public schools spent almost $11 billion investing in educational technology for K-12 students . According to the Center for Digital Education, per-student spending for K-12 is projected to increase 18% to $13,200 by 2022-23.

With all this money raining down on education technology, surely school leaders are in touch with the innovators creating the products, right?

Wrong.

There is a serious disconnect between the innovators building products to boost student outcomes and the school-district officials and school leaders with access to the purse strings.

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Last week’s ASU GSV conference brought this reality home for me. Out in San Diego, I was captivated by the flurry of innovative ed-tech products on display — apps as far as the eye could see. Yet what resonated most were the conversations with entrepreneurs about how they’re rolling out their products in schools, how they’re partnering with schools to ensure that they’re aware of the niche that their product fills and how to use the product to best educate students.

“Ancient procurement and monetary policies” are what make it difficult to bring great ed-tech into the K-12 space, according to Adrian Fenty, the former mayor of Washington, DC. Our children are in great need of equipment for the digital age, but decisions about their learning are still regulated by outdated, inflexible laws and people who were raised

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