redefinED roundup: private school testing in Fla., ESA’s in Miss., virtual school in Maine & more


Alaska: Not all Republicans agree on changing the constitution to allow private school vouchers for students to attend religious schools (Anchorage Daily News, Education Week). Could private schools discriminate based on religious beliefs if they accept public funds (Anchorage Daily News)? The editorial board of the Anchorage Daily News argues that the constitutional amendment to allow public funding of private schools should be vetted in the state’s education committee.

Arizona: A proposed bill in the state legislature will allow students eligible for free- and reduced-price lunch access to Empowerment Scholarship Accounts and increase the household income cap by 15 percent per year (East Valley Tribune, Arizona Daily Sun). Opponents of school choice are upset that the state superintendent is making low-income parents aware of all of their educational options, including the right to attend a private school (Arizona Republic, Washington PostTucson Weekly, Tucson Weekly).

Arkansas: Americans United for the Separation of Church and State complains about two charter schools teaching creationism in biology class (Arkansas Times).

California: The superintendent of LA public schools speaks favorably of school choice (Joanne Jacobs). The state leads the nation in charter school growth and enrollment (Contra Costa Times). The school district in San Diego makes requirements for charter schools more difficult if the charters want access to public construction dollars approved by voters (The Voice of San Diego). A city employee who vandalized a public school, which was being taken over by a charter school, may lose her job (Hechinger Report).

Connecticut: Public support grows for a new charter school in Bridgeport (Connecticut Post).

Florida: After failing to get a public middle school built in the neighborhood, parents in Woodville now support a proposed charter middle school (Tallahassee Democrat). Some members of the Florida legislature want to add a FCAT testing requirement to school choice students (Orlando Sentinel). The state saw the 4th highest growth in charter school enrollment nationwide (Palm Beach Post). School choice and civil rights takes center stage at a debate on education (South Florida Times). The Palm Beach Post editorial board favors requiring charter schools to post a $250,000 bond in case they close or are shut down. U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) visits a private school serving low-income tax-credit scholarship students to talk about school choice (redefinED, Tampa Bay TimesTampa TribuneCreative Loafing). Potential changes to the state’s tax-credit program may be coming, including partial scholarships and sales tax credits (Tampa Bay Times). The state’s tax credit scholarship program provides opportunities to disadvantaged students in the state (WEAR TV).

Idaho: Lawmakers revive a bill to create a $10 million tax credit scholarship program (Idaho State Journal).

Indiana: With school choice firmly a part of public education, school choice groups talk about education quality at the state capitol (WIBC). Parental choice increases parental satisfaction (National Review). A survey of parents finds many choose private schools for better academics and a religious environment (Chalkbeat).

Kansas: Speakers at a small rally at the state capitol ask lawmakers to give parents more choices in education (Associated Press).

Louisiana: Charter schools in the state try to inform parents of their options (The Advocate). Private school enrollment drops 5 percent thanks to competition from charter schools (Times-Picayune). The state is close to reaching an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice on how to monitor the voucher program to protect court-mandated desegregation (Times-Picayune). Gov. Mike Pence pleads with the state legislature to pass a pre-k voucher program (Indianapolis Star). The News-Sentinel editorial board opposes the pre-k voucher program.

Maine: Florida runs a state-wide virtual school but apparently the Maine Department of Education’s technology expert hasn’t heard about it because he claims the technology to do a statewide virtual school doesn’t exist yet (Bangor Daily News). State legislators support creating a moratorium on approving new virtual schools (Bangor Daily News). The Press Herald editorial board opposes for-profit virtual schools.

Massachusetts: The state’s education commissioner is recommending approval of two new charter schools, including one new virtual school (Boston Herald, Wicked Local).

Minnesota: Progressive pundit Michael Diedrich believes school choice weakens public schools (Daily Planet). The editorial board for the Star Tribune says charter school authorizers should have the power to shut down poor performing charter schools. A proposed bill to allow charter school authorizers to close down low-performing schools may not take into account all the benefits a charter school might bring (Mankatow Free Press).

Mississippi: The state house passes an education savings accounts program modeled after the a similar program in Arizona (National Review, Yall Politics, Hattiesburg AmericanJay P. Greene). The state has had a charter school law since 2010 but zero charters have opened in the state (Huffington Post).

Nebraska: This state is one of the few that doesn’t allow charter schools, but one lawmaker wants to change that (WRAL).

New York: Charter schools are doing a great job in New York City but Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to kill them off (The Economist).

North Carolina: The former state superintendent of public instruction explains why they are suing the state to stop vouchers (News & Observer). Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, says the status quo in education must be changed (News & Observer). More districts  join the lawsuit to stop vouchers (The Business Journal, News & Record). The Daily Advance editorial board supports the anti-voucher lawsuit.

Ohio: Not many charter schools are participating in Cleveland’s school choice website, which will provide parents information about district and charter schools in the city (The Plain Dealer).

Pennsylvania: Rep. Joe Emrick and Rep. Mike Reese propose new accountability and funding regulations for charter schools (The Mercury Columns). Philadelphia is considering an open universal enrollment model where parents can complete one application for multiple schools (Huffington Post).

Rhode Island: A Jewish Day school shows its support for school choice at the state capitol (The Jewish  Voice).

Tennessee: School choice puts the focus on students (Knoxville News). Memphis area charter schools look to lease empty school buildings (WREG TV). A proposed school choice bill will allow low-income students to recieve vouchers so long as they are assigned to the bottom 10 percent of public schools (The Tennessean).

Texas: The state moves to shut down three low-performing Houston-area charter schools (Houston Chronicle).

Washington: The Gates Foundation awards $4.2 million to the state’s charter school association (Chronicle of Social Change).

Wisconsin: Efforts to increase regulations on private schools participating in the state’s voucher program may not make it out of committee (Appleton Post Crescent). A Republican bill would grade private schools A-F (WUWM). School choice supporters hold a town hall meeting in Eau Claire (Leader Telegram).

Nation: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) wants to create 11 million private school scholarships worth $2,100 a piece (National Review). There is no perfect school but a school can become the perfect fit for you (Education Next). Voters in six states favor expanding school choice (Hawaii Reporter). Anti school choice pundit Jeff Bryant provides an overview of state and federal school choice legislation (Washington Post). Republicans and Democrats at the Federal level may reach common ground on promoting charter schools (The Hill). Magnet schools make a comeback in big cities (New York Times).

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BY reimaginED staff