redefinED roundup: Olympians and virtual schools, DC and CA charters shortchanged and more news

MondayRoundUp_magentaAlabama: The Institute for Justice, a national civil rights law firm, says vouchers are constitutional in the state (

Alaska: School choice opponents voice their concerns at a public hearing over a constitutional amendment to allow public funding of private schools (Anchorage Daily News, Nonprofit Quarterly). The proposed constitutional change passes the House Education Committee but the amendment faces a tough road ahead (Anchorage Daily News). There are 27 charter schools in the state with no cap on how many schools may operate (Alaska Dispatch).

Arizona: The state has many school choice programs (Camp Verde Bugle). A state court rules the Department of Education cannot recoup $5.9 million in over-payments to charter schools due to a change in teacher performance pay because it didn’t notify the schools of the rule change (Arizona Republic). Charter school operators plan to open 25 new charter schools in Phoenix (Arizona Republic).

California: Parent trigger elicits emotions from parents on both sides (Hechinger Report). The superintendent of LA Unified says every “student has the right to a choice of a highly effective school” (Reason Magazine). San Diego school board members are attempting to exclude some charter schools from receiving bond money approved by city voters (Fox 5 San Diego).

D.C.: A new study reveals area charter schools are being shortchanged on student funding compared with district schools (Washington Post).

Florida: School choice is growing by leaps and bounds (Sunshine State News). The Palm Beach Post editorial board says giving students public school choice could reduce the disadvantages faced by low-income students. After 17 years as president and CEO of Florida Virtual School, Julie Young announces her retirement (redefinEDOrlando Business Journal). Gov. Rick Scott proposes allowing charter schools access to construction funds if they serve students within attendance zones of low-performing public schools (Tallahassee Democrat).

Georgia: A lawmaker wishes to expand the tax credit scholarship program with a $100 million cap (GPB News).

Illinois: Nobel charter schools name thee schools after donors who give $1 million or more, but the donors do not decide curriculum or which teachers to hire (Chicago Sun Times).

Indiana: The Lafayette Journal & Courier editorial board argues that private schools should continue to take the state test in order to create a fair comparison with public schools. Since vouchers can be worth no more than 90 percent of per-pupil state funding to local school districts, vouchers save the state money (Indianapolis Daily Star). Five voucher schools in the state say they teach intelligent design or creationism (Journal-Gazette). The Star Press editorial board worries that allowing students to use vouchers without ever attending public school creates two classes of education.

Louisiana: State and federal officials say they are close to reaching an agreement, but they have one week to file a joint plan regarding the monitoring of racial segregation in the state’s voucher program (Times-Picayune). Students at a New Orleans charter school protest against school policies (The Atlantic). A portion of East Baton Rouge Parish wishes to secede from the lower-income areas of the school district  (Bloomberg).

Maine: Supporters of a proposed virtual charter school defend K12, Inc.’s reputation (Press Herald).

Mississippi: State lawmakers propose an education savings account program for special needs students, similar to the program in Arizona (Hattiesburg American). Special needs students in the state have a lot to gain from ESAs (

New Jersey: A Jewish synagogue celebrates school choice week, noting the importance of school choice to the Jewish community (North Jersey).

New York: Parents discuss why they want school choice for their child (MetroWNY). Charter school supporters head to New York City to fight against the mayor’s proposed $210 million cut to charter schools (Education Week,  National Review). A new study finds school choice increases property values in New York City (Heartland). Parents in the Bronx plan to fight de Blasio’s proposed cuts to charter schools (New York Post). Lt. Gov. Robert McGuffy says charter schools in the state have the support of the governor’s office (New York Post).

North Carolina: The Lee County Commission votes to support a resolution condemning the local school board for joining the anti-voucher lawsuit (Sanford Herald). More than 1,400 families applied for vouchers within just three days of the applications opening to the public (WRAL). A school board member in Asheville says vouchers for low-income kids will hurt low-income kids in public schools (News & Observer). More school boards vote to join the anti-voucher lawsuit (Sylva Herald, Carolina Coast). The Winston-Salem Chronicle editorial board believes the local district is abandoning public schools by not joining the anti-voucher lawsuit. The state school board is shutting down two charter schools for low academic performance (News & Record). Charter school enrollment grows as more charter schools come to Durham (Duke Chronicle). A former New York Times editorial writer and local education professor say Republicans are out to destroy public schools with school choice (News & Observer). Vouchers make education focus on students (Mt Airy News).

Ohio: The state will now allow students who will be assigned to low-performing schools to receive a scholarship to attend private schools. The changes in law mean the students will not have to first attend the failing school for a year before becoming eligible for the scholarship (Watchdog).

Oklahoma: A majority of state residents support education savings accounts for special needs children (Tulsa World).

Oregon: The Oregon Virtual Schools Public Alliance draws hundreds to the state capital in support of School Choice Week (The Statesman Journal).

Pennsylvania: Charter schools in Philadelphia say they do, in fact, receive less money than district schools (The Notebook). School district staff in Pittsburgh urge the board to reject three new charter school applications (Post Gazette).

South Carolina: Gov. Nikki Haley’s education plan increases spending for education but lacks support for school choice (The Times and Democrat, Fitsnews). A state senator says he’s putting the brakes on every bill that comes through the finance committee unless the state expands school choice (Fitsnews).

Tennessee: School choice supporters make donations to state legislators backing proposed voucher programs (The Tennessean). State Republicans disagree on vouchers and  how expansive the program should be (Nashville Post).

Washington: Will the state’s cautious approach to charter schools lead to better schools making a bigger impact on students (Seattle Times)?

Wisconsin: Jennifer Shilling, a state legislator, still wants private schools to follow the exact same rules and regulations as public schools (The Cap TimesLaCrosse Tribune). A law student at the University of Wisconsin says the state legislature should eliminate all vouchers, even vouchers for low-income students (Badger Herald). Public and private school educators say there isn’t enough demand to justify a voucher for special needs students in the state, but based on the description of the bill, the lack of the demand may actually be due to poor bill design (Stevens Point Journal). Republicans disagree on rule changes to the private and charter school accountability law (Wisconsin State Journal, Leader Telegram).

Nation: Legislatures in several states see proposals for new voucher programs (Education Week). President Obama isn’t entirely honest about education and education reform (Wall Street Journal). Kevin P. Chavous from the American Federation for Children says education reform breaks the status quo in education (Huffington Post). To increase private school performance, Andy Smarick from the Fordham Institute argues in favor of private school management organizations and private school authorizers which set contractual performance obligations for approved private schools (Education Next). Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), team up to discuss school choice as a civil right (Huffington Post). Rep. Lee also discusses her support of school choice and charter schools on MSNBC. The Walton Family Foundation plans $25 million in start-up investments for 112 new charter schools (Education Week). Education experts at the Reason Foundation in California discuss school choice and student-based funding models (Reason Magazine). A federal school choice bill will allow states to offer $2,100 scholarships to low-income families (The DC Register). Public schools aren’t open to everyone and anyone, writes columnist Mathew Yglesias (Slate). How’s this for an idea: use virtual schools for snow days (New York Times). Columnist Jonathan Chait wonders if traditional public school defenders might be the true conservatives (New York  Magazine). President Obama doesn’t think vouchers do very much, but he’s wrong (Wall Street Journal, Cato Institute, redefinED). A new study from Mathematica Policy Research found charter school students in Florida and Chicago were 10 percent more likely to attend college and made 13 percent more money per year than their public school peers (Bloomberg). The Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities fund raised $550 million to help charter schools nationwide (Las Vegas Review-Journal). Future Olympians use virtual schools to get an education while they train (Graham Leader).

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BY reimaginED staff