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More Than 80 Latino Leaders – Joined by Governor Charlie Baker -­‐ Call on State Legislature to Lift the Cap on Public Charter Schools

March 8, 2016


Josiane Martinez

Eileen O’Connor

More Than 80 Latino Leaders – Joined by Governor Charlie Baker Call on State Legislature to Lift the Cap on Public Charter Schools

EAST BOSTON – More than 80 Latino leaders from across Massachusetts gathered today at Excel Academy in East Boston to urge immediate legislative action to lift the cap on public charter schools in the Commonwealth. Governor Baker also attended the launch event, and echoed the urgent call for a legislative solution to increasing access to public charter schools.


The Latino leaders – which include state legislators, city councilors, school committee members, non-­‐profit leaders, business leaders and community activists from Boston and Gateway Cities – joined the Great Schools Massachusetts Coalition and announced a public information campaign, “Justicia en la Educación: Latinos Unidos por Escuelas Públicas Charter,” which will focus on educating Latino parents and community members about the benefits that public charter schools have provided Latino children across the state.

“Massachusetts’ public charter schools have provided kids, parents and families in our communities with a student-­‐centered approach critical to the success of children who face additional barriers to a great education,” said Governor Baker. “I am proud to join these leaders to call for raising the cap in low-­‐income communities of color so that all children, regardless of zip code, can share in this success.”

“This legislation is something that our community wants and perceives it needs – and we await the leadership of our legislators at the State House to deliver it,” said Samuel Acevedo, Executive Director of the Boston Higher Education Resource Council and Pastor of Leon de Juda church.

“Public charter schools

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Lawsuit threatens public funding for charter schools in Louisiana

Louisiana Record
Sharon Brooks Hodge
Mar. 27, 2016

The fight for control of public education money in Louisiana will have another round in court now that the state teachers union and local school board members have challenged a district court ruling.

Members of the Iberville Parish School Board and the Louisiana Association of Educators have appealed a May 2015 decision from the 19th Judicial District Court for the Parish of East Baton Rouge. The court upheld a 1995 law authorizing state officials to fund charter schools.

Although the Iberville Parish case centers on $3 million, the outcome of the lawsuit could impact as much as $60 million distributed to 25 schools with 13,000 students across the state.

“Money will always be the biggest area of dissension in education as long as school boards maintain the flawed position that the money belongs to one set of systems and not to the people,” Jeanne Allen, CEO of the Center for Education Reform, told the Louisiana Record. “They have misinterpreted their role. They, school boards, are the stewards of money, not the controllers.”

In 2014, the Iberville school board alleged that the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education had wrongfully given district money to a charter school. Instead of the $16 million the district ordinarily would receive to use during the school year, in 2014 the state board appropriated $3 million to Iberville Charter Academy.

The district court determined that charter schools are public schools and the current funding plan established by the state can continue. Under that plan, every state-approved Type 2 charter school receives money from taxpayers. The amount is based on the number of students attending the school. As more students leave traditional public schools, funds to local school boards dwindle.

If the elected school board and teachers union are successful in their appeal, public funding

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Opinion: Building Up Barriers

Hillary Clinton’s position on school choice hurts low-income students

March 16, 2016
Rachel Campos-Duffy
U.S. News & World Report

Last month, presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton unveiled a new agenda she promised would tear down barriers to opportunity for low-income and minority communities. While she was able to garner a few headlines, it doesn’t change the fact that she opposes the surest way to give children the best shot at a better life: expanding school choice and access to charter schools.

I say that as a Latina mother of seven who has taken advantage of educational options for my own children, and who has seen school choice policies improve thousands of lives in my home state of Wisconsin. It has clearly worked for Hispanic families in Florida, Nevada, Arizona and elsewhere.

Charter schools in particular have proven a lifeline for millions of children stuck in chronically failing schools. That’s especially true in some urban areas where fewer than one-in-three students are proficient in reading and writing. For these children, charter schools are their only chance to escape a life of hopelessness and poverty.

Clinton hasn’t always been so opposed. In fact, as first lady, she was a strong supporter of the charter school movement. During a 1998 White House meeting, she advocated that “charter schools are a way of bringing teachers and parents and communities together.”

But as a presidential candidate, Clinton has flipped to a steadfast opponent of school choice, making no exception in the instance of failing traditional public schools. As she put it last year, “I want parents to be able to exercise choice within the public school system – not outside of it.”

As a mother myself, I cannot imagine a more heartless response to the millions of children whose lives depend on access to charter

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The Miseducation of CNN (And Bernie Sanders)

A question posed to Bernie Sanders at last night’s Ohio democratic debate was a missed opportunity to powerfully educate the public about charter schools.  Typically, information is power, but when the information is bad, all we have is mush.  Following is Sanders’ exchange with the questioner and Roland Martin, a well-informed media commentator with a passion for education: (with some of my own commentary sprinkled in)

MARTIN:  Since I have a brother and two sisters who are teachers, and one who is a teacher’s aide, let’s go to a teacher.  We have Caitlyn Dunn, she helps lead a charter school here in Columbus, Ohio.  She did Teach for America and saw the inequities in our school system, and she says she is undecided.  So, you got a shot.  Go for it.

DUNN:  Thank you so much for taking my question.  An article was released in the Columbus Dispatch Friday announcing the schools producing top student gains from around the state of Ohio.  Of these, one-third of those schools producing these results were charters right here in Columbus, Ohio.  So, knowing this, and also having similar narratives from across the country, do you think that charter schools are a viable way to educate children in low-income communities, or do you think that you would continue, as President, giving money to traditional public schools?

During this time, apparently CNN’s Teleprompter was miscued by an ill-informed editor, because rather than abbreviate the question correctly, CNN produced this bastardized version, suggesting that charters were not public schools.


Adding insult to injury, Mr. Sanders seemed to create a new class of charter schools, one that does

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Charter School Bills Filed in Kentucky

Charter school, voucher bills filed

by Allison Ross
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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Charter Schools Have Succeeded in Saving Public Education From Further Failure

When four education professors author a report about a change in public education governance that actually turns the incentives and power structure from top down control to bottom up accountability, it’s unlikely to result in anything but misrepresentations and confusion. That’s precisely what occurred in the report covered by Business Insider on January 6, one that attempts to discredit the movement that Time Magazine once called a grassroots revolution by comparing it to the mortgage crisis. The authors believe and say as much in their report that parents of students in charter schools – some 2.5 million of them – actually don’t freely make choices. These “we know best” academics infer that poor people, in particular, are not capable of doing so given their poverty or low income status (Note: 60% of all charters have a mean of 60% or more children of color and as many have a mean of more than 60% at risk, but they are not all poor, minority schools.) They clearly have never met a charter parent – or perhaps any low income parent – who despite their challenges know their children better than anyone else about what works for their child’s education.

The education academics’ inference -wrongly – is that we charter schools give a choice to people who are not qualified, much in the same way that the sub-prime housing bust was a result of giving mortgages to people who could not afford to put money down, on houses whose values were inflated. In that case, if housing prices went up, the buyer would win. If not, the taxpayer would lose – and lose they did.

In charter schools, parents make a decision to take their child from, or not enroll them, in the assigned public school. They are in the same

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Local View: Charter schools are high-quality option

by Katie Linehan
Lincoln Journal Star
February 4, 2016

Much has been written recently regarding charter schools. To be clear: charter schools are public schools, open to all students, accountable to the public, and authorized by the state.

Charter schools do not cost taxpayers more. Rather, funding follows the student.

While many parents in Nebraska enjoy some ability to choose among existing schools, high performing public options are often at capacity.

Parents of means enjoy the opportunity to then choose among private school options. Low income parents, however, are left with fewer options and, far too often, their only options are low performing schools. Frequently, this results in a child’s zip code determining the quality of education she receives.

Despite increased spending and good intentions, student outcomes in Nebraska have failed to keep pace with the average rate of improvement in other states. Meanwhile, the achievement gap between white and minority children in Nebraska has grown and is now among the largest in the nation.

Charter schools are one example of a reform that has proven to benefit students, and under-served students in particular. The highest performing charter schools in the country are not only closing the achievement gap, but reversing it.

Given their positive outcomes, the charter school movement is growing. After twenty five years, charter schools are working for more than two million children in America, doubling the number of students served over the past decade. Forty three states and the District of Columbia have passed charter school legislation.

No charter school law has been repealed and weak laws, like that in Ohio, have been reformed. In 2015, students attending charter schools in Arizona performed as well as all students in the state of Massachusetts (the highest performing state in the country) on the

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Editorial: The speaker speaks up

Boston Herald
February 2, 2016

House Speaker Robert DeLeo doubled down on the benefits of charter schools last week, and frankly that’s a beautiful thing for the thousands of parents and students who are tired of being on waiting lists for the school of their choice.

In his annual address to House members, the speaker made clear that school districts that want charters “should be given the chance to pursue them, or any other option that they may deem necessary, in order to do right by their students.”

The next day DeLeo, appearing on Boston Herald Radio, said, “We have to give every child in the state the opportunity to succeed and quite frankly, I have so many parents who come in to talk to me, some of which are almost crying at the fact that they want to see their child in X, Y, Z school. And I feel that, who am I to deprive that child, if they have that opportunity, not to be able to attend a school of their choice?”

No child’s future should be determined by lottery — and yet that is the sad case for so many left on waiting lists by the luck of the draw. Gov. Charlie Baker is committed to expanding the number of charter school offerings in the state — preferably through legislation. But there’s the ballot question alternative if that fails.

And it speaks to the mindless opposition of the education establishment when Massachusetts Teachers Association President Barbara Madeloni can say — as she did to State House News Service, “It is incredibly disappointing that the speaker appears to be buying into the anti-public education agenda.”

Well, charter schools are public schools — but whatever!

DeLeo said, “When I take a look at some of those MCAS scores , and see

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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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