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redefinED roundup: DOJ anti school choice suit stumbles, charters threatened in PA and more

MondayRoundUp_magentaArizona: The Friedman Foundation profiles the parents utilizing the new Education Scholarship Account (ESA) program (Center for Education Reform). What is the difference between a district school and a charter school? A school district official explains (Daily Courier).

Colorado: Amendment 66 will increase taxes and add $950 million in funding to public education but also bring charter school funding nearly up to par with the traditional district school (New York Times, Durango Herald). Krista Kafer, the director of Colorado’s Future Project, says spending more money on education isn’t enough and the state needs innovation like school choice (Denver Post). Jeb Bush and Michael Bloomberg make big donations to the Denver and Douglas County school board races to support school choice candidates (Denver Post).

Connecticut: School officials in Hartford recommend the low achieving Clark Elementary School be converted into an Achievement First charter school (Hartford Courant).

D.C.: Romona Edelin, executive director of the D.C. Association of Chartered Public Schools, believes charter schools have revived public education in the District (

Florida: Gov. Rick Scott honors a private school teacher working at a Jewish school that serves 160 students from the tax-credit scholarship program (Sun Sentinel). Florida Virtual School has seen declining enrollments but its district-run franchises are seeing growth (redefinED). The Orange County School District is investigating a charter school which threatened to expel students if they failed the FCAT (Miami Herald).

Georgia: The new charter school commission approves one application and denies seven during its first meeting (Atlanta NPR, Forsyth News). The Georgia Charter School Association says that charter schools in the state are doing slightly better than traditional schools on most standardized tests (WABE 90.1 FM).

Idaho: Rural school teachers are turning to blending learning to supplement their instruction (Education Week).

Louisiana: The court hears the U.S. Department of Justice’s arguments on why parents should not be allowed to intervene in the DOJ’s anti-voucher case (Associated Press). The court ordered the DOJ to turn over documents related to segregation court orders over the last 40 years but the DOJ says the request is too burdensome and requests a delay (Times Picayune). The DOJ is trying to end a voucher program that helps minorities and reduces segregation (City Journal). Charter schools operating as “alternative schools” serve a very different student population and the state is still trying to figure out how to assess their effectiveness (The Advocate).

Maine: The state’s first two charter schools receive high marks after their first complete year of operation (Bangor Daily News).

Massachusetts: Boston-area parents have different reasons for spending extra money to send their kids to Catholic schools (Georgetown Record). The state will be taking over four struggling public schools to increase academic performance (Boston Globe).

Minnesota: Charter schools in St. Paul saw enrollment grow by almost 1,000 students this year (Star Tribune).

Missouri: Efforts to start a new charter school in the River Gardens School district were thwarted when the school board cancelled the scheduled November meeting. State law requires new charter school applications to be approved by December, 1st (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

Montana: Greg Gianforte, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, started a private scholarship fund for low- to moderate-income families in the state (Daily Inter Lake).

North Carolina: A retired highway patrol officer is running for the state Legislature as an anti- school choice Republican (Hendersonville Lightning).

New Jersey: The majority of urban schools with 100 percent graduation rates are charter schools (The Trentonian). Too many students want public school choice so the state will be “managing” the issue by capping growth at 5 percent for the 2014-15 school year (Courier Post). Some educators worry that this “management” of growth signals the state will be turning it’s back on public school choice ( Five key facts about newly elected U.S. Cory Booker (Education Week). A new study from Rutgers University says 26 percent of black students and 13 percent of Latino students in the state attend “apartheid” public schools (Heartland Institute).

New York: A new study shows Harlem’s high-achieving charter schools reduce teenage pregnancy 12 percent and male incarceration rates by 4.3 percent (NBER, Forbes, Wall Street Journal). From one progressive to another, a Los Angeles charter school principal writes an open letter to NYC mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio (Huffington Post). In response  to de Blasio’s pitch to charge rich charter schools rent, A NYC charter school principal writes “charter schools aren’t rich” (New York Post). More than 50,000 students are on wait lists for charter schools and that list is expected to grow by another 30,000 over the next four years (Crain’s New York). Boys and Girls High School in NYC has 80 unused classrooms (nearly 70 percent of the school is unused), but the principal has threatened to quit if a second charter school is allowed to collocate in the unused space (DNAinfo New York).

Oklahoma: A group is suing to stop the state’s voucher program for special needs students on “separation of church and state” grounds but the state helps fund other religious programs, including the employer of one of the plaintiffs seeking to stop the voucher program (Tulsa World).

Ohio: Columbus-area public schools are seeking a tax hike and the district is willing to share the spoils with high-achieving charters so long as the school isn’t for-profit (Columbus Dispatch).

Pennsylvania: The school district in Philadelphia is threatening to revoke charters unless charter schools agree to enrollment caps and agree not to ask the state for more per-pupil funds (The Inquirer). Charter school advocates tell Pennsylvania schools, if you want to keep your students, listen to your parents (Pennsylvania Independent).

South Carolina: Support for school choice is growing with 45.2 percent of voters favorable and only 41.8 percent against (The State).

Rhode Island: A majority of Democrats in the state support school vouchers, says a new survey by the Friedman Foundation (USNewswire).

Tennessee: School Choice NOW kicks off its campaign to get the state legislature to approve a voucher program (WBIR TV 10).

Texas: Jeff Judson, a board member of the Heartland Institute, says school choice in Texas is a matter of civil liberties (Heartland Institute).

Virginia: Robert Sarvis, the libertarian candidate for governor, wants free school choice for all children (WTVR CBS 6).

Washington: Five different groups seek approval to start charter schools in Yakima (Yakima Herald Republic).

Wisconsin: 79 percent of students in the expanded voucher program did not attend a public school prior to using a voucher (Journal Sentinel, Associated Press, Education Week). Voucher supporters say the reason so many private school students got vouchers was due to the short time frame available to advertise the option to public school students (Watchdog). The controversial sale of Malcolm X Academy to a private developer is on hold for now (Journal Sentinel). The Journal Times editorial board argues that allowing school operators to start accepting students before they have a building needs to be changed (Journal Times). A mew poll finds 50.5 percent of residents favored the expansion of vouchers while 44 percent opposed (Journal Sentinel).

National: Wendy Kopp, cxecutive director of Teach For America, asks if American schools really do need reform (The Atlantic). Education issues take center stage in election campaigns in Virginia and New Jersey (Education Week). Over 3,600 schools are prepared to participate in School Choice Week in 2014 (Miami Herald). Matthew Lynch, author of “The Call to Teach,” asks if school choice is an anti-public school sentiment (Huffington Post).

World: Gabriel Heller Sahlgren of the Institute of Economic Affairs argues for school choice in England (The Spectator).

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BY reimaginED staff