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WA Charter School Update: Motion for Reconsideration Deadline Extended to October 23

September 21, 2015
from the Washington State Charter Schools Association:

State Supreme Court Grants WA Charters Additional Time to File Motion for Reconsideration

Last Friday, the State Supreme Court granted a request by the Washington State Charter Schools Association (WA Charters) to extend the deadline to file a Motion for Reconsideration to October 23. This additional time gives WA Charters and our member public charter schools an opportunity to thoroughly explore the Court’s decision and the full range of its legal implications.

For example, the minority opinion argues that the same glitch the Court says disqualifies public charter schools from receiving public funding could also de-fund Running Start, tribal compact schools, schools for the deaf and blind, and any other public school program that isn’t directly supervised by an elected board. We requested more time to dive deeper into the ruling and its implications, and the Court has agreed.

In the meantime, all nine public charter schools remain open and continue to serve, engage, and inspire around 1,300 students across the state. Deanne Hilburn, whose sixth grade son Austin is attending Excel Public Charter School in Kent, said she is “so frustrated and angry” that this new and excellent school option could be taken away from her son. At Excel, Austin is thriving and more excited about learning than his mom can ever remember.

WA Charters will spend the next month preparing a Motion for Reconsideration and examining every possible option available to us to keep these public charter schools open for children like Austin for the remainder of the school year, and ensure parents and communities have high-quality public charter school options well into the future.


Show your support for charter schools on social media with the hashtag #saveWACharterSchools!

FROM THE DESK OF… Jeanne Allen, Senior Fellow: Recommendations on the GOP Presidential Debate

In the hands of some very seasoned campaign advisors, most presidential candidates take a safe approach to debates. With a relatively short time to get your talking points out, numerous issues to cover and lots of competitors working hard to hog the stage, they are advised to stay focused. But the measure of a candidate is what they do – and say – when programming is impossible. Who these people are and how they’d do as our president is best measured by dealing with issues that every one of us can relate to, the most communal of issues. That’s why I’m hoping that the candidates find opportunities across every issue to demonstrate their understanding that education is the great equalizer, and its connection to the economy and our international competitiveness, our peace, our safety at home and abroad is all connected to how well we educate our youth and our adults. Education is a big field, of course, so I’ll be looking for the guy or gal who is able to talk about education in the context of the most important current events we face today in improving and revolutionizing our schools. In my book, the candidate who touches well on the following three most important themes will win my vote.

Number One: Celebrate charter schools

Charter schools provide choice and diversity to parents and teachers, and challenge the status quo to do better. They are held accountable by performance contracts and in states where charters are largely independent from state and local bureaucracies they thrive. Charter schools are the reason we talk about standards today, have performance pay and teacher quality on the table and have closed some achievement gaps. Charters have helped breathe new life into cities like Washington, D.C. and New Orleans (just two out of

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Answering the call…

The nation will never forget watching the levees break, the fear and pain on the faces of the people trapped, the destruction, countless lives lost too soon. Ten years ago to the date, a storm, an act of God, broke down almost every system and structure that was supposed to keep the great people of New Orleans safe.

There is no question that those systems and structures were severely flawed and broken before the storm. But one in particular – the traditional public schools – literally had tens of thousands of students falling through the cracks. Before the storm, every effort to bring substantive reform to education was fought and defeated by special interests. At the time, CER was intricately involved with the dozen or so folks locally trying to bring about substantive change.

When news of Hurricane Katrina hit, we were all glued to our televisions in horror, outraged that Americans were suffering because of it. There’s a lot of speculation as to the reasons why – flawed government, brutally failed efforts to evacuate – the list goes on.

On August 29, 2005 I made a phone call. What about the hundreds of families of the dozen or so charter schools we personally knew and worked with – were they safe? Dr. James (Jim) Geiser, the former director of Louisiana Charter School Association, now Senior Program Consultant at University of Georgia, answered the call!

Jim and several charter leaders and families made it to Baton Rouge. If my memory serves me right, a charter operator in Louisiana’s state capital gave them refuge.

I’ll never forget Jim’s words, “It’s all gone… You can’t even imagine the destruction. We’re desperately trying to find students and their families to make sure they are safe.”

I could hear the pain in his voice while he was multitasking to

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Karl Dean: Never enough great schools in Nashville

by Karl Dean
The Tennessean
August 24, 2015

“When is enough enough?”

That question was posed during the Metro school board’s meeting Tuesday night before the board voted to deny KIPP Nashville’s charter applications – applications that were recommended for approval by the district’s charter review committee.

It’s a question worth considering.

When will we have enough KIPP in Nashville? When will we have enough of the tireless efforts of Randy Dowell and his devoted team of school leaders, teachers and staff members? When will we have enough schools in our city successfully getting our youngest citizens to and through college?

KIPP has been part of the fabric of Nashville for more than a decade, changing the lives of some of Nashville’s most at-risk students. Kids like LaTrya Gordon, who attended seven other public schools before finding the academic environment she needed at KIPP Nashville, where she thrived.

As is true for all KIPP students, KIPP’s commitment to LaTrya didn’t end with eighth grade. During high school, her former KIPP teachers helped her navigate challenging housing circumstances so she could support her family.

Now a rising junior at Belmont University, LaTrya drives her brother to first grade at KIPP Kirkpatrick before interning at KIPP Academy Nashville, where she dedicates her time to helping the next generation of KIPP students succeed.

LaTrya’s story is not an anomaly. Just a few months ago, Gov. Bill Haslam recognized KIPP Academy Nashville as a Reward School for once again being in the top 5 percent in growth in the state.

Their scholars posted the school’s best reading and science results ever. KIPP Nashville Collegiate High School’s students posted growth scores in English and Algebra last year that were in the top 4 percent in the state.

And all of this happened in academic environments that can only be described by anyone who has

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Philanthropy makes up small portion of D.C. charter schools budget

By Moriah Costa
August 17, 2015

Only six percent of funding for D.C. charter schools comes from private contributions, disproving claims that significant philanthropic contributions gives charter schools an advantage over traditional public schools.

A report released by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute earlier this month found the majority of funding for charter schools comes from the D.C. government. The report is in line with other studies, including a 2011 analysis from the University of Arkansas that found nationally, traditional public schools often receive more money on average than charter schools.

“I think it’s one thing about where people say the funds come from and it’s another thing to look where the actual money comes from, so I don’t think this is all that surprising if we looked across in other states,” said Alison Consoletti Zgainer, executive vice president of the Center for Education Reform. “I think it’s just the rhetoric of charter schools being supported by philanthropy is louder than what the reality is.”

Zgainer said a 2010 survey her organization conducted found that only 8 percent of funding for charter schools came from private philanthropy. The findings were not published.

The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute did not respond to a request for comment.

About 44 percent of D.C. students are enrolled in a charter school. Both charter schools and traditional public schools receive funding per student. The report found that charter schools spent an average of $14,639 per student in fiscal year 2014. That’s in line with district schools, which received an average of $14,497 per student. Charter schools also receive an additional $3,000 per student for facilities, while district schools receive long-term building funds from the D.C. capital budget.

Of the 60 charter schools, 21 were high-performing financially and seven were deemed low and inadequate. Eighteen schools were operating at a deficit,

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Comparing Traditional and Public Charter Schools

There are many aspects of schools to compare or how one school is different from another. I recently conducted a survey about how traditional public and public charter school students and staff feel about all aspects of their school. The purpose of the survey was to analyze the opinions in both schools. The results showed different trends in the relationship between students and staff of traditional public schools and public charter schools.

In traditional public schools students tended to be closer to their teachers. Most teachers who were working at regular public schools had been working there for at least 5 years or more, which would help build relationships with students. The survey also reveals that students at traditional public schools are taking rigorous classes but not more than public charter schools. In public charter schools, students tend not to be as close the teachers. César Chávez Public Charter School hires new teachers almost every year, so it would be evident that students aren’t as close because of the changes made every year.

Even though there are many differences, students in both schools didn’t give a correct definition of a public charter school. The charter school students were closer to the definition of course, but still not quite correct. The students in each school also agreed that their school was better than the other. But who wouldn’t say their school isn’t better; it’s ok to be biased sometimes.

As I wrapped up my survey, I began to look at what the public charter school and traditional public school teachers said about the schools. All the teachers said almost the same thing, the school is good overall but attitude and behavior need to improve in some areas.

The survey was a success and I got great results. It was very interesting sending surveys online

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Online Charter Schools Closing Achievement Gap for Low-Income Students

K12 Inc., America’s leading provider of K-12 online school programs, released a new report showing three of its largest managed online charter schools — Texas Virtual Academy (TXVA), Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA), and Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) — are making progress on closing the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged and not disadvantaged students.

The full report can be found here.

“For the 2013-2014 school year, K12 reported that its network of schools enrolled a higher percentage of economically disadvantaged students than the national average,” said Dr. Margaret Jorgensen, K12 Chief Academic Officer. “K12-managed schools are working to close the achievement gap, and in this report we look at three cases where schools are closing the gap between students eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch and those not eligible. In other instances, we observed that students who were eligible for either free or reduced price lunch are achieving higher percentages at or above proficiency on state tests, while others who were not eligible for subsidized meals were making even greater gains in proficiency.”

“Our commitment at K12 is to serve all students, regardless of their academic or socioeconomic circumstance,” said Mary Gifford, Senior Vice President of Education and Policy. “We recognize that many of the schools we serve have a higher population who come from low-income households than the national average.  We are pleased that the instructional programs and wrap around family support services we are providing at these schools are demonstrating positive results.”

Texas Virtual Academy: In Reading, comparing TXVA students enrolled 3 years or more to those enrolled less than 1 year, proficiency percentages increased with longer enrollment for Free Lunch Eligible students by 20 percentage points, for Reduce-Price Lunch by 18 percentage points, and for Not Eligible by 15 percentage points. Notable at TXVA is the

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EdReformU™ Second Semester Now in Session

Foundational Charter School History Program Launched This Week

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
June 16, 2015

Thirty students from throughout the U.S. and a diverse array of backgrounds and organizations have been selected to join the first History of Charter Schools course, an advanced program created to help students achieve knowledge of the genesis of charter school laws, how the varying policies were first enacted and the impact of one state upon another and on communities within and across state lines. Students will acquire an understanding of the vast and unique political atmosphere of charter school policy, and be prepared to accomplish the creation of maximally effective charter school laws.

EdReformU™ operates much like a MOOC, using the QLearn Mobile technology platform created by Qualcomm for the nation’s leading universities, but provides opportunity for live collaboration and interaction with professors. It is led by CER Founder and president emeritus Jeanne Allen, who currently serves as Senior Fellow and Dean of EdReformU™. Classes are hosted as well by adjuncts of education reform.

“By using history as a guide, the possibilities to accelerate the pace of education reform, particularly charter schools, are endless,” said Allen.

The History of Charter Schools is a particularly important course. Despite the more than 20 years success of charter school laws as the first fundamental structural change made in the operations of public education since the creation of the common school, charter school policy suffers from legislative misunderstanding and implementation confusion.

The mission of EdReformU™ is to inform, educate and activate students in the history of the education reform movement. Participants will learn from the context of those early education reform experiences, which actually repeat themselves year after year, often unbeknownst to those involved.

This course follows the foundational education reform course, The Decline and Fall of U.S. Education,

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Lawsuit aims to block charter school from co-locating

by Carl Campanile
New York Post
June 15, 2015

The war against the Success Academy charter schools network of Eva Moskowitz continues with a vengeance.

A Manhattan federal suit filed Friday aims to block Bronx Success Academy 3 from co-locating at an under-used building at 1000 Teller Ave. shared by four other small schools.

The suit claims allowing Bronx SA3 into the building will violate the rights of special education students under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act. About a quarter of the students are identified as having special needs and have individualized education plans, according to plaintiffs’ lawyer, Arthur Schwartz.

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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.”

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