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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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“Charter schools have made these last three years the best of my life”

Meet the Richards family from Framingham, Massachusetts. They are just one of thousands of families across the Bay State who have had their lives forever changed thanks to the excellent education they received at their local charter school – Christa McCullough Charter School.

“Charter schools have made the last three years the best of my life,” says one of the Richards, who with a 23-page IEP, who feels more at home in his charter school than any other previous learning environment.

Help share this story to show why it’s imperative to expand learning opportunities for more students, in Massachusetts and beyond:

 

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“Mommy, They Get Me.” A Massachusetts Mother is Overwhelmed By Her Son’s Charter School

As Massachusetts voters consider expanding opportunity through public charter schools on November 8, charter school parent Laura Richards explains how charter schools in Massachusetts have helped her son in ways she never imagined possible.

Her inspiring story:

Share Laura’s story to help cut through the noise and fearmongering from teacher’s unions and other protectors of the status quo, so that voters in Massachusetts and beyond know exactly how powerful choice and opportunity can be before they head to the polls.

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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

    Read More …

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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

Read More …

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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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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.

dunnberniecnn

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

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