redefinED roundup: Vouchers in Indiana, virtual education in Florida, school choice in Connecticut and more

Indiana: Lawmakers expand state’s school voucher program to allow more children to be immediately eligible. (Associated Press). The legislature may forgive $12 million in loans to nine failing charter schools (Associated Press).

Washington, D.C. : Charter advocates make their annual plea to district officials for equitable funding (Washington Post). Malcolm E. “Mike” Peabody saw improving the city’s schools as a civil rights issue, which led him to found a powerful pro-charter advocacy group in 1996 called FOCUS -Friends of Choice in Urban Schools (Washington Post).

MondayRoundUp_magentaFlorida: Florida Virtual School is already taking a hit with enrollment as lawmakers debate bill that ultimately cuts funding to the program (redefinED). More from the Orlando Business Journal and the Associated Press. Gov. Rick Scott signs the Career and Professional Education Act, what some lawmakers call the most “transformational” education bill of the 2013 legislative session (Tallahassee Democrat). The parent trigger bill moves to the Senate floor, but likely will see more drama with last-minute changes (redefinED). And the parent trigger debate continues to churn controversy, with a video said to be from a mysterious grass-roots group that turns out to be Parent Revolution (Miami Herald).

Pennsylvania: The Philadelphia school district plans to open a virtual academy to lure back students and families (Education Week). If 21 charter schools get their wish – to add 15,000 new charter students in the next five years – the Philadelphia school district could be faced with losing millions in funding (NewsWorks). And now the district says it can’t expand charters due to a $300 million budget shortfall (CBS Philly). Mother of a son with autism plans to open the Pennsylvania Autism Charter School with a goal to eventually return students to regular classroom (Express-Times).

Illinois: Parents of charter school students have formed a new group, Charter Parents United, to advocate for more equality – especially concerning public school funding (Chicago Tribune). Gov. Pat Quinn has cut off state funding to the United Neighborhood Organization, the state’s largest charter school operator, due to allegations of corruption (CBS Chicago).

Tennessee: Applications to start new charters in Nashville are at their lowest in three years (The Tennessean). Virtual school enrollment cap passes the legislature, while charter school authorization commission is delayed (Associated Press).

North Carolina: Lawmakers turn to black families to build support for school vouchers (News & Record).

Texas: House leaders discuss a proposal to expand charter schools statewide (Associated Press). A poll by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice shows 66 percent of Texas voters support school vouchers (Fox 34 News).

South Carolina: Interest in charter schools spikes, with 40 groups asking the district about opening new charters (

Maine: Public schools Superintendent Todd LeRoy says it cost the district $500,000 to send students to charter schools, which is a top concern preparing for the next school year (Kennebec Journal).

Wisconsin: School voucher proponents criticized a new report that showed their students lagging behind those in traditional public schools on state tests, saying the findings were skewed (Associated Press). More from the Journal Sentinel. Gov. Scott Walker speaks to 350 students, parents and school choice advocates during rally for vouchers (Journal-Sentinel)

Massachusetts: Webster School Committee members discuss ways to promote the district schools as more students opt for a school choice program that lets them enroll elsewhere (Worcester Telegram & Gazette).

Ohio: Three local school districts pass resolutions against expanding school vouchers (The Athens News).

Iowa: StudentsFirst tries a radio spot in Des Moines to break a stalemate in the state’s education reform talks (

Washington: Spokane Public Schools could see 13 charters open in 2014-15 as applications begin to trickle in to the district (The Spokesman-Review).

Connecticut: Calling for more schools that work,  Hartford Superintendent Christina Kishimoto tells education leaders “we need to get beyond whether it’s charter or magnet or neighborhood… schools. We need to get back to, ‘Is this good for kids?'” (The Hartford Courant).

Georgia: Atlanta parents have started a petition to restore nearly $3 million in charter school funding (East Atlanta Patch).






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BY Sherri Ackerman

Sherri Ackerman is the former associate editor of redefinED. She is a former correspondent for the Tampa Bay Times and reporter for The Tampa Tribune, writing about everything from cops and courts to social services and education. She grew up in Indiana and moved to Tampa as a teenager, graduating from Brandon High School and, later, from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications/news editing. Sherri passed away in March 2016.