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Florida Legislature Passes Charter School Expansion Bill, Awaits Signature from Governor

(Washington DC.) The Florida Legislature passed HB7069 earlier this month. The Best and Brightest Teachers bill would allow for more opportunities to serve students most in need of great education. The bill is currently waiting on the signature of Governor Rick Scott.

Jon Hage, the CEO of Charter Schools USA and Center for Education Reform board member, said, “I am hopeful Governor Scott will continue to demonstrate his ability to rise above politics and support the very priorities upon which his legacy will be built: support for educational choice for families, dedication to students with special needs, and rewards for highly effective educators.”

The bill helps successful charter schools to grow and to serve more low-income students. The funds that are allocated for their education would follow them to the school that serves them, and ensure equitable distribution of Title 1 funds. It rewards highly effective teachers and principals with additional compensation.

While hopeful that Governor Rick Scott will sign the legislation, advocates are nevertheless pressing him to do so.

“We share the enthusiasm of leaders throughout Florida that this legislation addresses critical deficiencies in the charter school landscape in FL and is a benefit for its kids,” said Center for Education Reform CEO Jeanne Allen.

School Choice Stats

Data on students with special needs, from Drew Catt and Patrick Wolf:

Here’s a table with links for the state-by-state private school surveys I’ve done, showing the percent of each state’s private schools that enroll students with special needs (based on respondent data only):

private schools enrolling students with special needs

Also, here’s the most recent data on the known number of private-school-choice students with special needs:

57,533 of 446,780 students ≈ 13% (based on most recent voucher, tax-credit scholarship, and ESA participant data in https://www.edchoice.org/school-choice/school-choice-in-america and Indiana’s DOE Choice Scholarship Report) includes the following:

Arizona Lexie’s Law for Disabled and Displaced Students Tax Credit Scholarship Program
Arkansas Succeed Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities
Florida John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program
Florida Gardiner Scholarships
Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program
Indiana Choice Scholarship Program – special education pathway only
Louisiana School Choice Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities
Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship for Students with Dyslexia Program
Mississippi Nate Rogers Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program
Mississippi Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Program
North Carolina Special Education Scholarship Grants for Children with Disabilities
Ohio Autism Scholarship
Ohio Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program
Oklahoma Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities
South Carolina Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children
Tennessee Individualized Education Account Program
Utah Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship
Wisconsin Special Needs Scholarship Program

I omitted Arizona’s ESA, since I am unable to separate out the students previously in foster care, zoned to a failing school, etc.

Collection of data on school choice and breakdown by race, from Greg Forster:

Here’s my recent review of the literature. And here’s a deep dive on methodology. And here’s data on how private schools and their populations have changed in places with school choice (including huge increase in minority private school enrollment in Milwaukee).

Info on school choice among lawmakers,

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CER Just Celebrated School Choice With President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Secretary DeVos

Earlier this week, our founder and CEO, Jeanne Allen, joined a celebration of school choice in the District of Columbia at the White House. She was joined by students from local schools; leaders of organizations that support school choice; and President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Secretary DeVos.

“It’s important that we salute the recently reauthorized SOAR Act, which is a lifeline for so many students in Washington, DC,” said Allen. “And it was heartening to hear the President make an unequivocal plea that every child—no matter his status in life—deserves the opportunity to attend a school that best meets his individual needs,” Allen said.

The bottom line: It’s nice to have allies who are committed to an educational renaissance in the nation’s capital.

The Theme is Innovation

This country has been built on innovation and ingenuity. When it comes to American education however, we are far too cautious. For us to succeed as a nation, and for our students to achieve, we need to be vigilant, constantly reevaluating progress and challenging the status-quo, calling into question existing systems and the opinions of the majority.

We need to examine the fundamentals that are the basis for end results; what is the rationale for the existing academic calendar structure and school schedule? We should be calling into question issues such as standards of student-teacher ratio and class size, and examine learning methodology and teacher preparedness—and awareness. Implementing new education technologies in the classroom can help young educators struggling to connect with students innovate in their lessons, understand their role and communicate more effectively in school and beyond. Charter schools and the unique freedom and flexibility they enjoy have brought about enormous leaps in the quality of students’ education, immense rises in academic achievement across the states, and brighter futures for the nation’s most needy children.

Gone are the days when a school in a community would be limited by distance and cost from availing its students of every imaginable lesson that exists in the world to enhance their learning. First and foremost, it requires listening to the students and directing their educational experience in totally new ways – and then talking about it!

Every effort must be made to bring innovative technologies to our schools. The traditional systems of pre-K, K-12 and higher education should not shackle our approach to improving education. Government should prioritize and expand support for innovative education by partnering with agencies that oversee telecommunications and transportation to drive the digital super highway further into rural communities and thus permit them to access the best of

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The Theme is Choice

“School choice” means giving parents the power and opportunity to choose the schools their children attend.

Charter schools are public schools that provide unique educational services to students, or deliver services in ways that the traditional public schools do not offer. They provide an alternative to the cookie-cutter district school model. Charters survive — and succeed — because they operate on the principles of choice, accountability and autonomy not readily found in traditional public schools.

How did charter schools get started?

Long before there were national associations and organizations working to promote the schools, individuals launched the charter movement with strategy and resolve. Charter school pioneers talk about their experiences above.

Today we’re highlighting brilliant videos from charter schools who were the runners-up of CER’s “Hey John Oliver, Back Off My Charter!” Video Contest:

Check out all of the contest entrants’ videos here.

GET INVOLVED. For the movement to grow and meet the demand of parents in need of education alternatives, it’s essential to showcase the hard work charter school leaders and educators are doing day in and day out. Help celebrate #CharterSchoolsWeek by signing and sharing the pledge to support public charter schools!

The Theme is Flexibility

Our public school leaders have been asking for years for government to remove the handcuffs. They welcome and need the ability to change their operations, and drive a new education culture.  People who want to start new schools need freedom and autonomy and they need a level playing field. The barriers to starting a school in some states are too onerous. Some states require that new schools only use “proven concepts” for their curricula or their school model. Others require that teachers have a particular kind of certification or even that they have experience starting up other schools before they can be authorized. Charter schools began as an idea to innovate and to free schools from arcane systems and over-reaching regulations. This school choice option has united people from diverse background and lifestyles who have wanted more personalized and innovative public education to meet students’ needs in ways that traditional public schools often failed to do.  We encourage government to be more flexible and we encourage Charter School advocates to push for charter laws that allow operational freedom, free from top-down compliance and burdensome “one size” fits all approaches which discourage charter schools from starting or expanding.  Flexibility is crucial to innovation and opportunity and the key to continued growth and excellence in charter schools across America.

Today we’re highlighting more videos from charter schools who participated in CER’s “Hey John Oliver, Back Off My Charter!” Video Contest:

Inspiring Minds

Adventurous Schools

Check out all of the contest entrants’ videos here.

A Salute to Charters

We must be vigilant to overcome challenges, including the overreach of regulation that is stifling a vibrant reform effort

May 1, 2017 — We are pleased to join with our colleagues around the country to celebrate National Charter Schools Week, and all those, especially at the community level, who have steadfastly committed time, energy and bold ideas for nearly 26 years. We hope everyone joins us in celebrating the schools, teachers, communities and innovators who have elevated education to new heights of excellence and performance.

The Center for Education Reform is proud to have been a leader in the fight for expanded opportunity for all children since 1993, and to have helped launch NCSW when the movement was just defining itself. This innovative and path breaking reform of public education has been heralded by each Administration since the first charter school opened in 1992.

In his inaugural proclamation of NCSW in 2000, President Clinton declared that charter schools “are helping us to meet many of our Nation’s most important education goals.”

 

Today, in President Trump’s 2017 Presidential Proclamation, President Trump called upon us all to embrace the choice that charters represent for so many. “By expanding school choice and providing more educational opportunities for every American family, we can help make sure that every child has an equal shot at achieving the American Dream. More choices for our students will make our schools better for everybody.”

Indeed, such choice affords families and educators the opportunity to voluntarily seek the schools that best meet their vision of education. Charter schools succeed when they have independence, flexibility, and freedom to innovate. It is essential we preserve and advance these core principles.

Here’s just but one of thousands of examples of how

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National Charter Schools Week 2017

National Charter Schools Week is April 30 – May 6!

To celebrate National Charter Schools Week 2017, The Center for Education Reform is shining a spotlight on positive outcomes our nation’s charter schools are achieving for our children.

Each day we’ll be posting more features that highlight how charter schools are making a positive impact and improving American education – check back here daily!

May 1 – Salute to Charters

May 2 – Choice

May 3 – Flexibility

May 4 – Innovation

GET INVOLVED

For the movement to grow and meet the demand of parents in need of education alternatives, it’s essential to showcase the hard work charter school leaders and educators are doing day in and day out. Help celebrate #CharterSchoolsWeek by signing and sharing the pledge to support public charter schools!

 

FACTS & INFORMATION

Fast Facts on Charter Schools Today (for more information on Charter Schools, visit the Charter School Facts & FAQs page)

  • Demand for charter schools remains strong, with over 1 million students on charter school wait lists around the nation.
  • Independent charter authorizers play an essential role in the health of the charter school movement. An authorizer other than a local school board has granted over 60 percent of charters across the country.
  • Charters serve a more disadvantaged student population compared to traditional public schools, including more low-income and minority students. Sixty-one percent of charter schools serve a student population where over 60 percent qualify for the federal Free or Reduced Lunch Program due to their family’s low income.
  • Charter schools receive 36 percent less revenue per student on average than traditional public schools, and, unlike other public schools, most do not receive facilities funds.

 

Check out more impactful stories on charter schools: 

Blog #1: An “Academic Dynasty”
Blog #2: Engaging the Next Generation

Read More …

An Important Message about Dr. King and Charter Schools

This article shines a light on the depth — and longevity of support — for charter schools in the African-American community. The story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s closest aide and chief of staff, Dr. Wyatt T. Walker, is not only enlightening, but something few know. It is in that spirit that we are pleased to share this with you.

Charter Schools.

“In a sense it was the next battle field…the schools were so bad that most of the young people were crippled educationally… that’s how I turned my attention to charter schools…”

Would Martin Luther King, Jr. have supported charter schools? “Oh yes,” said Dr. Walker! “Without a doubt…”

The mission of the Center for Education Reform is to expand educational opportunities that lead to improved economic outcomes for all Americans, particularly our youth, ensuring that the conditions are ripe for innovation, freedom and flexibility through U.S.

Help us do just that – ensure that the conditions for educational opportunity exist for each and every child in this great nation.

This article, along with an inspirational video clip on Dr. Walker and his involvement with charter schools can be found at this link: http://www.realclearlife.com/history/would-martin-luther-king-have-supported-charter-schools/.

Thank you for taking time to read it, to view the video and to share, as no American should be lacking in this critical knowledge about how much the earliest civil rights leaders in this nation embraced educational opportunity for all students.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts, reactions, or questions. Please contact us anytime to further this important discussion.

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On the 8th Day of Christmas CER Gave to Me…

Charter Schools Leading!

(7th) Opportunity Scholars Expanding
(6th) Parent Power Growing
(5th) State Policy Changing
(4th) Reformie Ladies Lunching

(3rd) A Global Hub for Technology
(2nd) Model Legislation
And a Nominee for Opportunity!

 

The 8th in our 12-ish days of Christmas series, intended to bring gifts to education reformers everywhere!

Charter schools are no longer a marginal experiment in US education.

Charter schools were started as a bipartisan effort to give schools more freedom and flexibility to meet results currently not being attained by district schools. As Ember Reichgott Junge, former Minnesota state senator and author of the first charter school bill in the nation, explains, “Chartering trades regulation for results, bureaucracy for accountability.”

Today, there are more than 6,700 charters enrolling nearly three million children in 43 states and Washington DC, leading the way in outcomes for children. There are arts-based charter schools, online charter schools, charter schools focused on STEAM and STEM curriculums, charter schools focused on the classics, and much more. 

The beauty of charter schools is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” model, and parents and children are free to determine if a school is a good fit – a sharp contrast to the district model.

As a student from Natomas Charter School – the winner in our Back Off My Charter video contest – told HBO comedian John Oliver, “The world realizes that education is an archaic model that needs updating – that’s why we have charter schools. We experiment, challenge and create – we pioneer change in hopes that other traditional schools will follow suit.”

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