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Charter School Bills Filed in Kentucky

Charter school, voucher bills filed

by Allison Ross
Courier-Journal
March 2, 2013

As widely expected, Republican legislators in both the Kentucky House and Senate have submitted bills just before the filing deadlines to try to bring charter schools to the commonwealth.

In addition, Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Burlington, has filed a bill that would create a school voucher-like program allowing special needs students to redirect per-pupil public school funding to pay for private schools or private tutoring.

Efforts to bring vouchers and charter schools to the Bluegrass State have been going on for years, but with a new Republican governor that has championed charter schools and vouchers and a House that could be moving closer to Republican control, the chances seem greater compared to recent years that such legislation could pass.

Tuesday was the last day for House members to file bills this session, and Thursday is the last day for Senate members to do so.

The charter school bill filed Tuesday by Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, is similar to those he’s filed in previous years.

The bill, SB 253, would essentially create a five-year pilot charter school program in Jefferson and Fayette counties, with a maximum of two charter schools allowed to open per year in each county. It would create a “Kentucky Public Charter School Commission,” which would have members appointed by the governor and could approve charter applications and provide oversight.

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Statement Regarding Maryland Governor Hogan’s Signature on Charter School Legislation

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
May 12, 2015

Statement by Kara Kerwin, president of The Center for Education Reform:

“This morning Maryland became the first state in the country to roll back its charter school law at a time when it should be pursuing bold and dramatic change across its public education system.

“I am deeply concerned and disappointed by Governor Larry Hogan’s decision to sign The Public Charter School Improvement Act of 2015, which no longer reflects the much-needed change the Governor’s original proposal envisioned.

“The new law prohibits online charter schools, removes the State Board’s check and balance authority, stalls enforcement of equitable funding for charter school students, and removes the flexibility school districts already had in negotiating operational changes by requiring every single operational feature subject to a legal agreement.

“I am fully aware that the politics of Annapolis can be ‘tricky,’ but to completely ignore the warnings of local charter school leaders, news media, local businesses, parents and national experts is extremely troubling and does not put the interests of students first.

“I appreciate the Governor’s commitment to revisiting this issue in the near future, but if the politics of this past session are any indication, it is highly unlikely there is any legislative appetite to improve the already ‘F’ graded charter school law.”

Charter school bill excludes online education

By Rebecca Lessner
For MarylandReporter.com
April 30, 2015

An amended charter school bill will slam the door on Maryland’s chance to follow the 29 other states across America in embarking onto the newly charted plains of cyber-schooling, according to charter school advocates.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan made charter schools a priority last session with his Public Charter School Improvement Act of 2015, which would have made it easier for charter schools to start in Maryland. But the General Assembly made major changes to the bill before passage, including a new, little-known prohibition on 100% online charter schools. It now awaits the governor’s signature.

Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford said “happy is too cheery a word,” to describe his feelings towards the bill as passed, but did not say if the governor would consider a veto.

“We are a little disappointed. We haven’t made a final decision of whether we will go forward with it,” said Rutherford at Hogan’s 100 Days press event.

“If we sign it, going forward, we will be back next year with another charter school bill. I am quite sure of that,” he said.

Online public charter schools open up a middle-ground between public, private and homeschooling. But there are concerns about the quality of education and track record in other states for the evolving programs.

Kara Kerwin, president of the Center for Education Reform, said current charter school law does not specify if learning should take place online or in the classroom.

“It’s a really important option, brick and mortar, one size fits all, doesn’t work for all children,” said. “Maryland eliminating the potential for that innovation to flourish here would really be a step backwards.”

Cyber Schools

Virtual charter schooling is a relatively new concept, but it is a contributing factor in why neighboring states surpass Maryland in a charter school education report card compiled by

Read More …

National charter schools advocate wants Hogan to veto charter bill

by Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post
April 27, 2015

A national charter advocacy organization wants Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to veto a bill passed by the General Assembly that would change how charter schools operate in the state.

The bill originally was pushed by charter advocates because it would have given charter operators greater authority and was a way to increase the number of such schools in the state. But it was significantly watered down as it made its way through the legislature.

Kara Kerwin, president of the Center for Education Reform, sent a letter to Hogan last week asking him not to sign the bill.

“The Public Charter School Improvement Act of 2015, no longer reflects the bold change your original proposal envisioned and will do nothing to improve the state’s already ‘F’ graded charter school law,” Kerwin wrote. “In fact, some of the provisions are a step backwards.”

There was no immediate comment from Hogan.

The governor’s original bill made sweeping changes to the state’s charter law, giving schools the ability to hire and fire teachers, doing away with a requirement that charters fall under state collective bargaining rules and giving charters more say over who can attend.

The amended bill does not change hiring rules, but it does provide some leeway on enrollment. It also offers some flexibility regarding certain state educational requirements for high-performing charter schools that have been in existence for at least five years, are in good financial shape and have a student achievement record that exceeds the local school system’s. Those charters would be exempt from specific requirements about scheduling, curriculum, and professional development.

Kerwin said the bill would prohibit online charter schools, which are operating in 29 states across the country. She said it also gives the state Board of Education less power.

“If this is signed into law, Maryland

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A Great Leap Forward For North Carolina’s Children

Statewide School Voucher and Tenure Reform
Likely to Give State a Boost on National Report Card

CER Press Release
Washington, DC
July 22, 2013

The Center for Education Reform (CER), the nation’s leading advocate for lasting, substantive and structural school reform, today called the positive movement on a statewide school-choice voucher program a “great leap forward for North Carolina families,” as it will help to ensure access to more and better educational options for low-income Tar Heel State students.

The North Carolina Legislature reached an agreement last night on the state budget, which includes offering a $4,200 scholarship for low-income families to choose a school that is the best fit for their children. The budget also addresses teacher tenure by eliminating tenure for new teachers and sets up a modest performance pay bonus system. A $6,000 scholarship for children with disabilities is also expected to pass this week.

“Parents in North Carolina have been clamoring for more power over their children’s education,” said Kara Kerwin, vice president of external affairs at The Center for Education Reform. “We applaud the bipartisan leadership in the state legislature that answered their call.”

North Carolina currently ranks 21st in the nation on the Parent Power Index©, which measures the ability in each state of a parent to exercise choices – no matter what their income or child’s level of academic achievement – engage with their local school and board, and have a voice in the systems that surround their child.

“States where parents have options to choose tend to yield higher growth rates in student achievement,” said Kerwin. “North Carolina’s work on school choice and teacher quality issues are a real boost for parents and students, but much more work is needed to expand choice so every child has access to better options.”

Raising Bar on Charter Law Shouldn’t Wait

A recent Bangor Daily News editorial incorrectly uses conclusions and data from CER’s State of Charter Schools report. The quote below is about judging an individual charter school, yet is used as ammo for an argument about why lifting the charter cap in Maine shouldn’t happen.

“It remains the case that the single most effective way to evaluate whether a charter school is succeeding is to measure value-added growth over time, including how that growth, retention, and, yes, parent satisfaction compare to the same factors in the schools those students would otherwise be attending,” Allen wrote in the Center for Education Reform’s 2011 analysis of what works and doesn’t work in the realm of charter school performance accountability.

There’s judging schools, and there’s judging school laws, and the editorial unfortunately mashes the two together in its argument against changing Maine’s charter school law. Yes, “performance based accountability is the hallmark of the charter school concept”, but giving charter schools a chance to thrive depends on the quality and implementation of charter school law. Having a limit on the number of schools allowed is not an indicator of a strong charter school law. Limits stifle the chances for innovation and growth, thus stifling the potential for great schools (that can be held accountable and judged based on all the factors mentioned in the quote above!).

Mississippi’s Modest Step Forward

April 17, 2013

Just hours ago, Governor Phil Bryant signed the Mississippi Charter Schools Act of 2013 into law.  When this legislation was first headed to the governor’s desk, the Center for Education Reform acknowledged this as a step forward for Mississippi, but emphasized that this legislation is not as bold or aggressive as the parents and students of Mississippi deserve:

“We join our colleagues in acknowledging that this is a step forward for Mississippi, but after sixteen years of debate in a state where only 21% of 8th graders can read at proficiency, parents and students deserve better and more aggressive action from their elected officials,” said Kara Kerwin, CER’s VP of External Affairs.

“Strong laws create strong schools. A conclusion we’ve made since 1996 evaluating the nation’s 43 charter school laws,” said Kerwin.

“Mississippi lawmakers had two decades of proof to see what works and what doesn’t in charter policy. They missed the mark on most of the key components of strong policy. Incrementalism is not good for all children.”

Click here to read the full press release

(Photo courtesy of Twitter)

Posing as Reform in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania State Rep. James Roebuck (D-Philadelphia) is not an honest broker. With more than $50,000 in contributions each year from the city’s teachers unions, the public should know that the reform bill he is backing for charter schools is about destroying, not reforming; about raising up the status quo, not real reform of our schools.

His reports and allegations, of widespread problems in charter schools across the state, are misleading and plain wrong. For example, he alleges that most charter boards have conflicts of interest with those with whom they work or depend for services. But that would also suggest that the largest employer in the school system is riddled with conflicts. Who isn’t related to a teacher or a child or a board member or a vendor in any district? Everyone with a pulse has overlapping interests. The only time it’s a conflict is when their views and their work is at odds with what’s good for kids.

Conflict of interest is code for keep charter schools small and insignificant. Demands from opponents for accountability is code for shut them down.

The charters are efficient, effective, albeit underfunded public schools that are oversubscribed and, in most cases, achieving above and beyond the traditional public schools.

Why would you try to save money on schools that are already underfunded and over subscribed? Why not save money on schools that are failing on a system that has a larger administrator/adult -student ratio than most comparable districts?

Philadelphia District:
15-to-1 teachers to students
655 administrators making over $100,000/dollars a year! (100 of who are teachers)
2980 in total all education administrators — Average salary is $104K

There are about 150,000 students in district public schools – 50 students for every administrator! A charter school survives with half as many administrators – an average of 100 kids for every administrator!

Read More …

Why Truly Independent and Multiple Authorizers Are Important

February 28, 2013

It’s not surprising that Louisiana’s charter school authority expansion fell flat in its first year.

Louisiana’s experience is proof that not all efforts to improve laws are created equal. Strong charter school laws do not require new groups to apply to become authorizers. It is actually a disincentive to do so.

Strong laws permit universities and other publicly accountable non-education entities to become authorizers without asking permission and hold them accountable for the outcomes of their schools. That’s because the purpose of independent and multiple authorizers is to establish new pathways for school creation and oversight separate from existing state and local education agencies.

States that allow for truly independent authorizers, granted by law to operate with unbridled freedom, yield greater charter school growth and quality.

MS House Passes Charter School Bill

“House passes charter school bill in wee hours of morning”
by Associated Press
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal
January 24, 2013

Bleary-eyed charter schools supporters took a few minutes to bask in a big victory early today, but were quick to acknowledge that the fight’s not over.

The Mississippi House voted 64-55 to pass House Bill 369, which would expand charter schools in the state. The vote came after more than seven hours of debate and three hours of a computer reading the 251-page bill.

Last year, proposals for charter schools — public schools that agree to meet certain standards in exchange for freedom from regulations — never reached the House floor. This year, House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, muscled a carefully tailored bill through his chamber. The bill’s managers conceded enough changes that even a group that had fought the proposal swung over to endorse it during debate yesterday.

“I’m proud we could deliver this for Mississippi children, but we’ve still got a long way to go,” Rep. Charles Busby, R-Pascagoula, said after the debate. The freshman was tapped to handle the bill on the floor, enduring hours of sometimes repetitive questions from mainly Democratic opponents.

Now come negotiations with the Senate, which passed a broader bill last week. The House and the Senate must agree on a version before it can go to Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, who during his State of the State address Tuesday reiterated a desire to sign an expanded charter law.

The House version differs from the Senate bill, limiting charters to 15 a year, giving school boards in districts rated “A,” ”B” or “C” a veto, and prohibiting students from crossing district lines. The Senate bill doesn’t impose a limit, doesn’t give a veto to C-rated

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