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redefinED roundup: vouchers in TN, ESAs and scholarships in FL, tax credit critics in KS & more

MondayRoundUp_magentaAlabama: Rep. Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, says the Alabama Accountability Act, which allows students in failing districts to transfer to private schools, is a failed experiment (Anniston Star). A lower court dismisses a suit filed by students to stop the state’s school choice program (Associated Press).

Alaska: A private school tax credit bill passes through the House (Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch).

Arizona: School districts are worried about education savings accounts expanding (Ahwatukee Foothill News). Applications for state voucher programs doubled over last year (Associated Press).

California: More students in southern California are switching to virtual schools (Daily Press). Two charter schools in LA are given permission to enter into negotiations with the school district to take over vacant school buildings (LA Times).

Connecticut: A group called Connecticut Voices for Children reports that school choice programs segregate special needs and English Language Learners (New Haven Register, Connecticut Mirror). However, that same report shows charter schools are far more likely to serve minority students.

D.C.: The district releases the full data on parental school choice lottery preferences (Washington Post). Mayor Vincent Gray outlines a new school boundary proposal that includes lottery-based open enrollment (Washington Post).

Delaware: Stacie Beck and Eleanor Craig, associate professors of economics at the University of Delaware, make the case for tax-credit scholarships (The News Journal).

Florida: A bill to expand Florida’s tax credit scholarship program and create education savings accounts for special-needs students  advances out of the House on a mostly party-line vote (Capital SoupOrlando SentinelWFSUSun SentinelFlorida CurrentredefinED). (The scholarship program is administered by Step Up For Students, which co-hosts this blog.) Earlier in the week, a House committee voted to strip the tax credit proposal of additional funding but the bill will still increase the income eligibility (Orlando SentinelPalm Beach PostTampa Bay TimesAssociated Press, News-JournalredefinED).

Florida leads the nation with the number of students receiving vouchers and tax-credit scholarships to attend private schools (WCTV). Jon East, a vice president at Step Up for Students, asks why the Florida PTA wants to stop low-income parents from choosing the best school for their child (Tampa Tribune, redefinED). A scholarship parent wants to know why the Florida PTA opposes her school choice (Orlando Sentinel). A private school principal says one-size-fits-all schools don’t work for all students (Sun Sentinel). The Tampa Bay Times editorial board says the state doesn’t need more vouchers. John Kirtley, chairman of Step Up For Students, notes the state teachers union spent $20 million over the last decade on political electioneering but feigns shock when school choice supporters spend considerably less (Orlando Sentinel, redefinED). A survey by Sunshine State News finds a majority of Floridians do not support taxpayer dollars funding scholarships for low-income students. Most private schools in the state’s tax-credit scholarship program are religious (News-Journal).

The Senate waters down a charter school bill, leaving only language that gives military commanders a bigger role in establishing charter schools on military bases (Tampa Bay Times, redefinED).

Georgia: Leon Galis, a columnist for the Athens Banner-Harold, says school choice doesn’t lead to real competition because public schools can’t provide religious education.

Illinois: Andrew Broy, president of the state Network of Charter Schools, and Lucy Reese of Charter Parents United, discuss charter schools on WGN 720 Radio. The Nobel Network of charter schools ends its policy of charging parents fees when students are sent to detention (Chicago Tribune). Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel isn’t worried about a report that says charter schools students perform the same as students in public schools (CBS Chicago). The Democrats for Education reform says charter schools should be held to the same standards of accountability as neighborhood schools (Sun Times). Scott Reeder from the Illinois Policy Institute says school choice options are good for children but bad for unions (Northwest Herald). The House passes a 3-year moratorium on virtual charter schools (Watchdog).

Kansas: Barbara Shelly, a columnist for the Kansas City Star, says the state is too broke to give 70 percent tax credits to corporations who help create scholarships for low-income students. Patrick Lowry, a columnist for the Hays Daily News, says the tax-credit scholarship program will drain money from poor school districts and increase inequality. Mike Hoeflich, a law professor at the University of Kansas, says the tax-credit scholarships will hurt public schools (Lawrence Journal-World). A former lawmaker says the voucher proposal put teachers to tears and will hurt education (Osage County Online).

Louisiana: Both the state and U.S. Department of Justice claim victory in the school voucher suit (Associated Press). The voucher program remains intact but now comes with federal monitoring (Times-Picayune, PoliticoFoundation for Excellence in Education). Attorney General Eric Holder denies the Department of Justice wanted to put an end to the program (Washington Examiner, Washington Free Beacon).

Maine: A bill to reduce virtual school funding advances (Bangor Daily News).

Missouri: Teacher union president Randi Weingarten says struggling public schools should be given extra resources, not have management handed over to private companies (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

Mississippi: The special needs education savings account bill will return next year, says lawmaker (Watchdog).

New Hampshire: A columnist argues that charter schools are built by propaganda and that the real problem in public education is student poverty (New Hampshire Gazette).

New Jersey: A music teacher says charter schools are only good schools because they select good students and discriminate against bad students (Daily Record). A court upholds the education commissioner’s decision to approve two blended learning charter schools (, Hechinger Report, PR Newswire).

New York: Cardinal Dolan sends letters to 70,000 families in his diocese to express his anger over the legislature’s failure to create the tax-credit scholarship program (New York Daily News, New York Daily News, CBS New York). Other Catholic bishops are also upset (Newsmax). Teachers and parents protest a charter school co-location law (Epoch Times). Success Academy charter schools enter into negotiations with Mayor Bill de Blasio over charter school co-locations (Chalkbeat).

North Carolina: Democrats running for an open seat spar over school choice (Charlotte Observer). The Buncombe County School Board passes a resolution opposing vouchers (Citizen Times). Lawmakers plan to appeal the lower court ruling on vouchers (WRAL).

Ohio: A bill to require voucher students to take and pass a reading exam before being promoted out of third grade advances (Columbus Dispatch, Bucyrus Telegraph). Democrats in the state legislature plan to introduce bills to require charter schools to open up their books to the state auditor (Akron Beacon Journal).

Pennsylvania: Charter schools respond to the threat from the state’s athletic association, which wanted to prohibit charter schools from offering the same sports as the local public school (The Inquirer).

Tennessee: A limited voucher program for students in the bottom 5 percent of schools heads to the full senate (Associated Press, The ChattanooganDNJ). There may not be enough private school seats to meet demand if a voucher program passes into law (The Tennessean). Greg Richmond, CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, talks about charter school growth in the Memphis area (Chalkbeat).

Wisconsin: Voucher students in Milwaukee post gains in reading and math (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Star TribuneWISN). Some school voucher students opted out of taking the state test in order to avoid the embarrassment of being singled out as a low-income student receiving a voucher (Leader-Telegram). A Beloit-area private schools sees its voucher applications rise from 102 to 132 over last year (Beloit Daily News). Racine-area private schools and school choice supporters approve of the new application regulations (Journal Times). Oshkosh-area private schools hope to see the statewide voucher program expand (The Northwestern). Gov. Scott Walker signs a bill which will require private schools to submit graduation and achievement data to the state for eventual inclusion in a public report card (Fond du Lac Reporter). Rep. Jessie Rodriguez says gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke is wrong about school choice (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

National: A bipartisan bill to help create more high-quality charter schools passes the U.S. House education committee (Education Week). Republicans and Democrats promote charter schools nationally (Roll Call). Democrats for Education Reform says New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has done more for charter schools than House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Democrats for Education Reform, Huffington PostEducation Week). Paul Rosenberg, an activist, says education reform is premised on lies and there never was a problem with K-12 education in the U.S. that more equitable spending wouldn’t solve (Salon). American Indian Public Charter High School again tops the Wasington Post list of the nation’s most challenging high schools, though the organization had three of its charters revoked (, Washington Post). Learning lessons from KIPP’s blended learning program (Getting Smart). Nina Rees, CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, says Illinois and New York are headed in opposite directions on how to effectively regulate and grow charter schools (US News and World Report). A dean emeritus from Rowan University wonders why charter schools exist in the first place and doesn’t understand how the idea of parents picking the school for their child ever caught on (Delaware Online). Kelly Wallace, an editor and online correspondent at CNN, says parents want the best education for their child but wonders why they are so judgmental about other parent’s choices.

World: Pope Francis singles out support for parental choice (at least within dictatorial nations) (Daily Caller).

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BY reimaginED staff