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Nashville Charter On Hold

“Great Hearts school ends charter bid in Nashville”
by Lisa Fingeroot
The Tennessean
September 13, 2012

Great Hearts Academies’ decision to pull out of Tennessee until state law creates an impartial charter school approval process is setting the stage for a legislative battle over who will grant approvals in the future.

After the Metro Nashville school board denied a charter to Great Hearts for the third time, the Arizona-based charter school company released a statement Wednesday saying it was withdrawing from the state.

However, Great Hearts said it might apply for a charter “when Tennessee’s laws and charter approval process more effectively provide for open enrollment, broad service to the community and impartial authorizers.”

The idea of creating a state agency to grant charters has been discussed in Tennessee and elsewhere. The Tennessee Charter School Association is researching methods used in other states to take politics out of the conversation.

“Every application should not be a brand-new political discussion,” said Matt Throckmorton, association executive director. “It is the children of Nashville that lose out to adult problems, again.”

Throckmorton called the state charter school law “flawed” and hopes to find a system that will allow charter applicants to work with local boards of education during the application process, but will not allow politics to affect the decision. That model will probably find its way into the association’s legislative agenda for January, he said.

“We are going to have charter schools — the law has been written,” he said.

Metro Nashville board members don’t consider their decisions to deny a charter to Great Hearts three times to be political. They have said the main issue was whether the school would cater to an affluent, largely white population or work to create a more diverse student body by providing transportation to students from other areas of the city.

Great Hearts, on the

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The hits just keep on coming

dontchangeThe opening of Virginia’s latest charter school (one of only four operating around the state) has been nothing but a roller coaster ride, not to mention a textbook example of the more-often-than-not contentious relationship between school districts and their charter schools when districts hold all the cards under a weak charter law:

Since the start of their dance with Richmond Public Schools (RPS) in the spring of 2008:

Patrick Henry was forced to go through the RPS approval vote process three times

Patrick Henry was initially left out of this year’s RPS budget

Patrick Henry is to be held to higher standards than other RPS schools, but will receive 21 percent less funding

Patrick Henry was “generously” granted leased space from RPS at a cost of $1 per year – facilities which came with a crippling renovation price tag of close to $1 million

Enough already?

Apparently not. Yesterday, a school more than 2 years in the making, one that will offer families a longer school year and a curriculum focus not available in traditional Richmond schools, was faced with the possibility of being on the receiving end of one more hit – the potential refusal by RPS to hire their first principal just as the final preparations for their inaugural school year get under way. (more…)

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Fantasy Press Conference (Shameful Redux)

microphones(In light of the impending stimulus package making the rounds on Capitol Hill, the following is a riff on remarks made by President Barack Obama following a meeting with his education economic team. The original can be read in its entirety on the official White House blog.)

One point I want to make is that all of us are going to have responsibilities to get this economy education moving again. And when I saw an article today indicating that Wall Street bankers Congress had given themselves the education system $20 billion $100 billion worth of bonuses in new spendingthe same amount of bonuses as they gave themselves in 2004 effectively doubling federal funding of education — at a time when most of these institutions were are teetering on collapse and they are asking for taxpayers to help sustain them, and when taxpayers find themselves in the difficult position that if they don’t provide help that where they don’t have any other choices for educating their children, the entire system could come down on top of our heads if the next generation – indeed, this generation – can’t compete in a global economy — that is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful.

And part of what we’re going to need is for folks on Wall Street in the education BLOB who are asking for help to show some restraint accountability and show some discipline transparency and

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At Odds

takeoverAndy Rotherham (via Eduwonk) has some fun dissecting today’s New York Times article on the unionization process within two Brooklyn-based KIPP charter schools (“Teachers at 2 Charter Schools Plan to Join Union, Despite Notion of Incompatibility“):

First, Jeanne Allen of the Center for Education Reform says that “A union contract is actually at odds with a charter school.”  “Actually” is the wrong word there.  The more accurate way to say that would be, “could be.”  Why?  Well one example is the unionized and highly sucessful Green Dot Public Schools, another is KIPP Bronx, which has been unionized for some time.  And there are others, good and bad.  What matters is what’s in the contract not unionization per se.

Beyond the quote as printed, what I actually said was that unions and the charter CONCEPT are at odds. Green Dot (Andy’s example) created its own contract, one that works within its model (though results in NYC will be interesting). What KIPP schools are experiencing is the equivalent of a takeover, even disguised as a restructuring, where management will no longer be able to set the tone or culture of their schools. That might work for some teachers who believe their work conditions are the most important aspect of their school, but this move puts students second. This thinking is what brought us the system failure that, to date, un-co-opted charter schools have sought to correct.

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Unionization = Student Achievement?

knowledge

Knowledge is power, KIPP’s moniker, might need to be more aptly applied to the parent company’s involvement and understanding of local school issues. The knowledge of what was afoot in two more of their NYC schools to convince teachers there to unionize may have helped them avert the rising mediocrity that will no doubt color this otherwise No Excuses school model. One wonders what campaign was hatched to convince so many KIPPsters that a regulatory environment would be preferable to the freedom they now enjoy.

Union leaders in NYC blogging yesterday provide some clues:

In a letter delivered to co-principals Jeff Li and Melissa Perry this morning, the teachers said that they had decided to unionize in order to secure teacher voice and respect for the work of teachers in their school. We want “to ensure that the each day,” they wrote.

The letter stressed that the decision to organize was directly connected to the teachers’ commitment to their students. “ strong and committed staff,” the teachers wrote, “is the first step to student achievement.” Unionization, the teachers believe, will help create the conditions for recruiting and retaining such a staff.

“We organized to make sure teachers had a voice, and could speak their minds on educational matters without fearing for their job,” says KIPP AMP teacher Luisa Bonifacio.

“For us,” KIPP AMP teacher Emily Fernandez explains, “unionization is ultimately all about student achievement, and the ability of teachers to best serve students at this crucial middle school time in their education.”

Mutual respect and validation?

Unionization is all about student

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Why A Charter School Should Not Be the Obamas' Choice

This country is great. We’ve just elected the first African-American president, who has brought tremendous pride to many communities, but especially to African-Americans. I’ve seen it myself across the color and political spectrums.

It reminds us that you can have anything you want in America – unless you’re poor, that is.

Nowhere is this more clear than when it comes to schooling your child. Much has been written about where the Obamas might send their babies to school. As they are looking at private schools, their new hometown paper, The Washington Post, is reminding them that there are other people who want such a choice, but the President-elect doesn’t support the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program that allows such a choice with taxpayer dollars.

There are others who want him to go to a charter school. One of his biggest fans, Democrats for Education Reform, a group which really believes he will carry their agenda, is pleading for him to choose a charter school in D.C., one of the 62 or so high quality schools currently serving almost 30 percent of the D.C. public school population.

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