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McCarthy to Oliver: Make It Right

A Letter to John Oliver from Appletree Charter Schools Founder Jack McCarthy:

I’m a fan of the show and I thought your report on charter schools was devastating. It would also be reasonable for your team to report on the ineptitude, corruption and self-dealing that takes place in public schools that operate under the district governance and finance model. That is, after all, what led to the creation of charter schools in the first place.

Jack-McCarthy-AppleTreeYou may not be aware — in this year of grotesque, daily, pathological lying at the highest levels of our political discourse — how your report is being used as a cudgel against thousands of courageous, mission-driven educators dedicated to improving the lives and outcomes of our most disadvantaged children. Their work is hard enough. It doesn’t have to be disparaged further in such a ham-handed, easily-manipulated fashion.

Have your staff explore how your report is being used in a nation-wide war against charter schools. If this is what you intended, then I’m not a fan any longer. If this is not what you intended, make it right.

I hope you will take the opportunity to examine the ineptitude, corruption and self-dealing of some of the leaders of the AFT and NEA.

In Washington, DC, several years ago, the leader of the Washington Teachers Union was sent to jail for stealing members’ dues, as detailed in this Washington Post report. There is a robust amount of material to work with. Don’t limit it to charters because most are making a tremendous difference in the lives of children. The ones that don’t, close. And that’s a good thing.

Sincerely,
Jack McCarthy
President and CEO of Appletree Early Learning Public Charter School

Jack McCarthy is a pioneer in the charter school

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Newswire: August 23, 2016 — An Open Letter to Charter Schools Regarding John Oliver’s Parody

An open letter to charter schools, your staffs and your parents, and, most importantly, your students –

This weekend the late night British comedian John Oliver parodied charter schools, poking fun at politicians and celebrities who support them, serving up misstatements and lies about their success & drawing from anti-charter sentiment that is all too prevalent today.

Highly credible researchers and organizations have dismissed his poor taste as just the rantings of a comedian, as satire, which is “his job.” But tens of thousands that find their employment in the organizations you challenge gloated, tweeted and sent their combined millions of members to view and further promote.

Worse, highly credible news sources, including TIME Magazine, the Washington Post, and popular rags like Rolling Stone, carried and repeated the Oliver jokes on charters.

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The problem is, it’s no joke what you do every day, and it’s no laughing matter that people who have never experienced bad education think it’s funny to mock those who desperately need a good education for themselves.

The response from the teachers union and others who are currently engaged in a WAR on charter schools is nothing short of coronation for John Oliver. In Massachusetts, hundreds of anti-charter forces working to prevent the more than 32,000 students on waiting lists to achieve their dreams cackled over social media all night and day about the parody, trying to intimidate voters who might otherwise want to vote to lift their charter cap.

You know what it’s like to be in your community and be criticized for doing the hard work it takes to demonstrate results year after year under a microscope, with higher standards and fewer resources than other public schools.

You know what it’s like to teach children who come into your

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“For Too Many Families, The Skies Have Not Cleared”: Massachusetts’ Time To Shine for Education Opportunity

On Thursday, July 14th, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker stood in front of the  State House among families, students, legislators, and residents to advocate for the importance of expanding educational opportunities for children.

Students and their families — likely some of the more than 32,000 on charter school wait lists — echoed throughout the downpour of rain as they chanted, “lift the cap!” in support of lifting current limitations — or a “cap” — on charter schools in the Bay State. Currently, there are limits on the number of charter schools allowed to open in Massachusetts, the number of students allowed, and funding limitations.

Recently, Question 2 was added to November’s election ballot as a way to give residents a voice in whether authorizing either the approval of up to twelve new charter schools or the expansion of student enrollment in existing charter schools would provide more opportunities for students to succeed academically.

During the rainy rally, Governor Baker stated that “for too many families and too many kids, the skies have not cleared, the sun has not shined…too many do not get the chance and opportunity to go to the school of their choice and to have the chance to fulfill their dream that most kids and their families do in the Commonwealth.”

As Governor Baker and the families behind him rallied for greater education opportunity through charter schools, the skies cleared and the sun began to shine possibly signifying that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is ready for a bright change of opportunities.

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Seeking Innovative Solutions to The Challenge of Adult Literacy

By Liza McFadden

My great-grandparents emigrated from Westport, Ireland and I’ve traveled to see the home they left. In the summer it’s a charming, whitewashed building with a picturesque view of the harbor that belies the hunger and hardship that motivated its residents to seek a better life across the ocean.

I’m reminded of this image daily in my work as a literacy advocate. Not too long ago, myself and Doro Bush Koch, Honorary Chair of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, visited families in our Rockville, Maryland program, most of whom had come to America seeking relief from dire poverty in Guatemala. One mother cried when sharing with us that due to funding constraints, she would have to leave the program when her son turned four and went to preschool.

Despite our knowledge that a mother’s educational level is the number one determinant of a child’s likelihood to graduate from high school, we’re going backwards. Enrollment in adult literacy and English Language Learning programs has declined by 27% since 2001. The recession steamrolled dreams: in Los Angeles alone there was a decline of over 800,000 students served from 2008 to 2013, and local adult literacy waiting lists are in the thousands.

I believe in order to address these problems, it is time to consider all options that increase access and opportunity. Why aren’t innovative education reform models found in the K-12 system more prevalent in adult education? I believe we could benefit from studying both successful and emerging implementations of these models. For example:

  • Sonia Gutierrez,who is considered both a Hispanic rights activist and literacy leader, championed the rights of adult literacy students, and in 1998 the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School was awarded the first adult charter school in Washington, D.C.
  • Briya Public Charter School in

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A Call to Action for Renewed Focus on REAL Education Reform

by Steven Guttentag, President of Connections Education

On Wednesday June 15th, I attended a lunch at the National Press Club at the invitation of Jeanne Allen, founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform, and a long-time, tireless and effective supporter of choice and charters. At this event, Jeanne unveiled The New Opportunity Agenda, a manifesto for renewed energy, strategy and action around education innovation and opportunity.

In a nutshell, Jeanne and the panel argued that the progress made over the last 25 years around creating educational choices for all parents (not just the privileged few who can afford private schools) and the development of new educational models, practices and pedagogy, is starting to wane. In some cases, it seems to be even going backwards. She provided a wake- up call to education reformers and asked all of us, across the ideological spectrum, to find common ground around the “twin values of opportunity and upward mobility.”

As someone who has been on the front lines of education reform my entire career, first as a teacher in the District of Columbia Public Schools, then as an administrator in the School District of Philadelphia and now as a co-founder and president of Connections Education, a company supporting K-12 online and blended learning in schools and school systems across the country for 15 years, this was a message for which I had been waiting. Attempting to innovate within our public education system is a constant battle to fit a square peg into a round hole—to justify, to explain, to try to comply with antiquated rules and regulations.

Joining Jeanne at the front of the room in support of this change agenda was John Engler, Former Governor of Michigan, David Levin, President and CEO of McGraw-Hill Education, and Donald Hense, Chair and

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Eight Important Tweets on The Future of Adult Literacy

Thirty-six million Americans can’t read.

Low-literacy skills are directly linked to higher unemployment, less earned income and poor health. The result is a lack of social mobility and greater inequality for millions of families.

On June 8, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy convened entrepreneurs, investors, technology leaders, futurists, visionaries, policy makers, and NGO’s to envision transformational ideas for the next 25 years of literacy.

Here are eight important ideas captured under the event’s #AdultEdu hashtag about the bold ideas and innovative thinking that can help alleviate our nation’s literacy crisis:

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 8, 2016

CONTACT:

Josiane Martinez
josiane@discoverasg.com
857-­‐222-­‐0800

Eileen O’Connor
eileen@keyserpublicstrategies.com
617-­‐806-­‐6999

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.

CLICK HERE TO READ LETTER FROM COALITION

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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