redefinED roundup: School choice in Montana, parent trigger in Florida, tax credit defeat in Mississippi & more

Montana: House Republicans endorse three school choice bills – one to authorize charter schools, another to create a modest tax credit scholarship program and a third to create an education savings account program for students with disabilities (Independent Record). A day later, several defect on the charter school bill and it goes down – though maybe not permanently – on a 50-49 vote (Billings Gazette). The tax credit scholarship bill clears the Senate (The Missoulian).

Florida. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduces legislation to create a national tax credit scholarship program (redefinED). A parent trigger bill that was defeated last year in a dramatic tie vote is back this year (redefinED).

MondayRoundUp_magentaColorado: Two bills to expand private school choice through tax credits go down to defeat (Ed News Colorado). A student is in limbo after his mother withdraws him from a charter school to send him back to his zoned district school but the district says it’s too late (

Arizona: Charter schools would have to follow state purchasing laws and those that use management companies would have to post salary information under a bill filed in the wake of a newspaper investigation (Arizona Republic). Lawmakers nix a bill that would have required mailers be sent to parents informing them of school choice programs (Arizona Daily Sun).

New Mexico: Public schools, including charter schools, would be barred from contracting with private entities under a bill supported by critics who fear “a Trojan horse-type assault on the state to divert public education funds” (Santa Fe New Mexican).

Idaho: Lawmakers consider equitable funding for charter schools (Idaho Reporter).

Washington: The state public schools superintendent asks legislators to put charters under his watch, a move that conflicts with the new law voters recently approved that calls for a separate supervisory panel (King5).

California: The San Francisco school district triples the rent for charter schools, after charging less than other districts for years, prompting an outcry from some charters (San Francisco Chronicle).

Alaska: Senate President Charlie Huggins stirs up a ruckus when he pulls a bill a proposed constitutional amendment that could expand school choice away from the education committee (Alaska Dispatch).

Mississippi: Two bills to expand school choice via private school scholarships die in the state House (Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal).

Louisiana. A legal challenge to the state’s voucher program is headed for the state Supreme Court on March 19 (Associated Press). Vouchers are now available for the program’s second year despite uncertainty (New Orleans Times Picayune). More private schools want to participate in the program (Associated Press).

Tennessee: Republican lawmakers water down a bill to cap enrollment at struggling online-only schools and derail a Democratic bill to ban private companies from operating them (Associated Press). An “apparent grade fixing scandal” at Tennessee Virtual Academy is at issue, reports WATE-TV. More from the Knoxville News Sentinel. A proposed bill wending its way through the legislature would allow Nashville charter school operators to apply to the state to approve their charter applications instead of the local school board (Memphis Commercial Appeal). Also, Nashville public schools adopt a diversity plan that some officials hope will spread to charter schools to help avoid re-segregating the public school system (Tennessean). Voucher opponents raise the usual concerns about draining public school funds and cherry-picking students (Associated Press).

Kentucky: Black ministers in Louisville want 18 low-performing district schools in the city converted into charters (Louisville Courier-Journal).

Georgia: A parent trigger bill cruises through the House Education Committee (Atlanta Journal Constitution). A Republican lawmaker who supported the tax credit scholarship programs says he wants to make sure the scholarship are helping low-income kids, as intended (Atlanta Journal Constitution).

North Carolina: The number of charter applications has jumped significantly since lawmakers removed the cap, going from a few dozen in 2011 to 156 this year (WFAE 90.7).

Michigan: A Michigan State University study looks at which charter school authorizers have the highest performing schools (Detroit Free Press).

Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker proposes to expand the school voucher program to nine districts across the state (Associated Press). A new group forms to combat any attempts at creating a voucher for special needs children (Milwaukee Public Radio).  Milwaukee is among a dozen U.S. cities with more than 20 vacant schools, and school choice advocates say the district isn’t selling or leasing to viable educational providers (Wisconsin Reporter).

Illinois: Some aldermen in Chicago want a moratorium on charter schools because so many public school seats are available (Chicago Tribune).

Nebraska: A report from the Platte Institute for Economic Research spurs debate about charter schools and vouchers (Omaha World-Herald).

New Hampshire: Democrats in the Legislature are driving towards a repeal of the tax credit scholarship program that passed last year over Gov. John Lynch’s veto (New Hampshire Union Leader). A bill that lift restrictions on funding for new charter schools clears a key legislative committee (New Hampshire Union Leader).

Massachusetts: State Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester recommends approval of five new charter schools and expansion of 11 others (Boston Globe).

New Jersey: Battles over suburban charters are becoming common (NJ Spotlight).

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BY reimaginED staff