Six School Districts Have Reached at Least 40 Percent Enrollment Share
In some communities, the growth of charter public schools has been striking. For the first time, the enrollment share of public school students who attend charter public schools has reached more than 40 percent in Kansas City, Missouri and Gary, Indiana.
U.S. News & World Report, By Nina Rees, 11/17/15 When former Secretary Hillary Clinton said last week that most charter public schools don't take, or are quick to get rid of, the "hardest to teach" students, it caught many in the charter movement by surprise. Clinton has supported our work for two decades, recognizing the importance of providing public school choices to parents. Other charter defenders have rebutted Clinton's remarks, pointing out that charter schools have been a lifeline for students and parents in low-income communities – especially students of color, who are thriving in charter schools. And noted education researcher Robert Pondiscio pointed out that district-run schools in higher income areas have several avenues to avoid teaching the students they don't want to keep. But there hasn't been as much focus on why charter public schools help "hard to teach" students thrive. After all, as the latest report on charter school enrollment shows, charter public schools are most commonly found in urban neighborhoods with tough socioeconomic challenges. But instead of excuses, they're getting results. What are charter schools doing differently that's working?
The Huffington Post, By Shavar Jeffries, 11/17/15 President Obama's legacy of expanding educational opportunity and parental choice has been game-changing for children throughout our country, and in particular low-income children of color, who otherwise were consigned to schools that failed to ignite the flame of genius flickering inside them. In recent weeks, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has suggested she might backtrack on a signature feature of that legacy--expanded parental options to choose a high-quality public charter school--slowing the progress of schools that in too many communities in our nation are the primary bastions of hope for families of color seeking educational opportunities for their children. An anti-charter school stance tells communities of color throughout our country that the narrow interests of the status quo are more important than the educational interests of millions of children.
Los Angeles Times, By Zahira Torres, 11/17/15 Converting the nation’s second-largest school system into an all-charter district is a long-shot -- one that requires state approval and support from a majority of teachers. But members of the Los Angeles Unified Board of Education said they were exploring all options -- even those that are unlikely -- as the district contends with a charter school expansion plan spearheaded by the Broad Foundation. The plan seeks to enroll more than half the district’s students in charter schools over the next eight years. On Tuesday, a board committee reviewed a report that outlines the process for becoming an entirely charter school district. Board members said the goal was primarily to identify how the district could benefit from the same flexibility currently provided to charters. Charters are publicly funded, independently operated and free from some regulations that govern traditional schools. Most are non-union.
Los Angeles Times, By Howard Blume, 11/18/15 Backers of a plan to greatly expand successful charters and other high-quality public schools in the Los Angeles area have formed a nonprofit organization to move the effort forward, The Times has learned. The new organization, called Great Public Schools Now, is based in Los Angeles and will take the next steps in a plan that initially was spearheaded by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. A draft of that proposal, dated in June, called for raising $490 million to enroll half the students in the L.A. Unified School District over the next eight years. The nonprofit will be run by two executives from ExED, a local company that specializes in helping charter schools manage their business operations. Former banker William E.B. Siart will chair the governing board; Anita Landecker will serve as interim executive director.
(MA) The Salem Evening News, By Amanda Ostuni, 11/17/15 A rally scheduled for Wednesday morning in Boston Common is the latest in an ongoing statewide initiative to get Massachusetts lawmakers to raise the cap on charter schools and lift charter enrollment restrictions. Currently, the law, which was last changed in 2010, caps the number of charter schools allowed statewide at 120. The number of students enrolled at each school is limited to 9 percent of the students within the district the charter is located, or 18 percent of students if the district is one of the state's lowest performing school systems. The initiative to raise these numbers, which is supported by Gov. Charlie Baker, has caused a clear divide between legislators, politicians and educational leaders at the state and local levels. The North Shore is no exception. Nina Cullen-Hamzeh, the head of the Marblehead Community Charter Public School, supports a cap raise, and even planned to attend the rally with a teacher and some parents.
(WA) Seattle Post-Intelligencer, By Joel Connelly, 11/17/15 Students, parents and teachers from Washington’s charter schools will head down to Olympia on Thursday, seeking to buttonhole legislators gathered for a committee day and demand that they enact a “fix” that will keep open nine schools with an estimated 1,100 pupils. The state Supreme Court, in a decision just before Labor Day, ruled that charter schools don’t qualify as “common schools” and can’t receive public funding. The key issue, the court said, is that charter schools are controlled by their own boards and not by elected school boards. The Supreme Court has been asked to reconsider — four former state attorneys general have signed onto a brief — but the newly created Act Now for Washington Students isn’t waiting. It has set out to mobilize public support with a campaign of mail and TV advertising urging the legislature to fix what it calls a “legal glitch.” “The choice is simple. We are asking our leaders to put politics aside and give public charter schools — and our kids — a chance to thrive. Please don’t slam the door on our dreams,” said Roquesia Williams, a Tacoma parent with children in several of the charter schools.
(CA) The San Diego Union-Tribune, By Maureen Magee, 11/17/15 The Charter School of San Diego is among four recipients awarded the 2015 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, a top presidential honor for performance in the public and private sectors. Announced Tuesday by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, the winners were chosen for their “outstanding commitment to sustainable excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership.” The award recipients were selected from four different sectors. The Charter School of San Diego won in the education category for its ability to help students who despite enrolling “academically behind and at risk of never receiving a high school diploma, 94-98 percent of those enrolled have graduated from the Charter School of San Diego or successfully transitioned back to a traditional public school.” The Charter School of San Diego opened in 1994 as the city’s first charter, and serves students in grades seven through 12.
(CA) Los Angeles Daily News, By Sarah Favot, 11/17/15 Los Angeles Unified board members Tuesday discussed the possibility of transforming the nation’s second-largest school system into an all-charter district. While the move faces hurdles, including requiring support from half the district’s teachers and state approval, school board members said they want to learn more about the process. “The whole etymology of why I wanted to discuss that was (to) figure out some ways that we could get some of the benefits that our colleagues in the charter schools get, and that’s called waivers of many of, what I call, the superfluous rules that the state puts us under,” said board president Richard Vladovic, who requested Tuesday’s review.
(VA) Richmond Times-Dispatch, By Jim LeMunyon, 11/17/15 Charter schools are commonplace in America. There are more than 6,700 such schools in more than 40 states - on average, more than 160 in each state. But there are only nine in Virginia. Nationally, there was an increase of 281 charter schools in the last school year. In most other states the creation of charter schools has long been supported by bipartisan majorities of elected officials - but not in Virginia. Typically, charter schools employ innovative learning strategies, including modified curricula, aimed at a particular purpose. One such purpose is helping underperforming students achieve academic success. But imagine charter schools for special needs students, or schools with a focus in science and technology or the performing arts. In 2015, the General Assembly narrowly passed an amendment to the Virginia Constitution, led by Sen. Mark Obenshain and Del. Rob Bell, which would allow - not require - our state government to play a greater role in creating such schools. Every Democrat in the Virginia Senate voted no, as did all but three in the House of Delegates. With elections behind us, it’s time for Republicans and Democrats to forge bipartisan consensus on public policy initiatives to improve the lives of Virginians. The charter school amendment should be prominent among those initiatives.
New York Daily News, By Marcus Winters, 11/16/15 As research makes it clearer that urban charter schools are outperforming district counterparts, critics of modern education reform have refocused their aim on the type of student that charters serve. At a recent town hall event in South Carolina, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton became the latest public figure to complain that charter schools fail to serve the neediest students. According to Clinton, “Most charter schools — I don’t want to say every one — but most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don’t keep them.” As with any pervasive myth, there is a kernel of truth to the statement. Or at least the first half. On average, charter schools do enroll fewer difficult-to-educate students, such as those with disabilities or who speak English as a second language, than traditional public schools. The rest, however, is less solid. Anecdotes of underperforming students being pushed out of charter schools are common. The recent scandal of a principal in a prominent charter school having a “Got to Go” list of such students seemed to give teeth to the claim that charters systematically push out their most difficult students.