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redefinED roundup: FL becomes second state with ESAs, MO considers private options, charter school funding studied


Arizona: The Tucson Diocese School Board says parents can be trusted to decide on the education for their own children (Arizona Daily Star). Gov. Jan Brewer signs a bill to expedite the approval process for parents seeking Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (Associated Press). The state superintendent of public instruction will increase scholarship amounts to 90 percent of the funding for charter schools after the state legislature declines to clarify the voucher funding limits (Capitol Media Service). The Jewish Tuition Organization raises $2.9 million to fund scholarships for seven Jewish day schools in the state (Jewish News).

Colorado: The Coloradan chronicles the six charter schools of Fort Collins.

Connecticut: Charter schools in the state receive about $3,000 less per pupil (New Haven Register). Education leaders in Bridgeport and Stamford consider taking legal action to stop more charter schools from opening in the cities (Connecticut PostAssociated Press). Education reform groups representing many different interests, including charter schools and school choice, work to shape education policy in the state (Middletown Press News).

Florida:  A bill to expand the tax-credit scholarship program and create an education savings accounts program stalls on Thursday (Associated PressPolitifix) but passes out of the Senate and House the next day (Associated PressredefinEDTampa Bay Times, WFSU, Florida Current, News Service of Florida, South Florida CBS 6Miami State Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, an opponent of the scholarship expansion, accuses Step Up For Students of bribery but refuses to offer proof and apologizes for his comments (Palm Beach PostOrlando Sentinel). (Step Up administers the program and co-hosts this blog.) Opponents rallied to try and defeat the bill (Orlando Sentinel).

A lot of back-and-forth on whether tax credit scholarships are good for English language learners (VoxxiTampa Bay Times). Kate Wallace with the Foundation for Florida’s Future says school choice helps students and is only a threat to adults worried about keeping their jobs (Context Florida). Educators in both public and private schools say school choice is beneficial to students (redefinED). Valerie Strauss argues “accountability” means everyone should follow the exact same rules, regulations, curriculum and take the same exact tests (Washington Post). John Romano, a columnist for the Tampa Bay Times, calls lawmakers hypocrites for not requiring private schools to follow the same accountability rules as public schools.

The state legislature cuts charter school capital funding support from $91 million to $75 million (Tampa Bay Tribune, redefinED). Charter schools receive less money than traditional district schools (State Impact). The Florida League of Women Voters discuss its study on charter schools on WJCT radio. A school district explores allowing students access to other public schools through open enrollment (Ocala Star Banner).

Indiana: Private schools participating in the state’s voucher program are running out of open seats (Associated Press).

Kansas: Gov. Sam Brownback signs the state’s first private tax-credit scholarship program into law (Heritage Foundation).

Louisiana: Over 1,500 students have agreed to attend one of three new charter schools opening in Lafayette Parish this coming fall (The Advocate). A bill to require Lafayette Parish to provide free busing to charter school students is pulled from consideration (The Advocate).

Maine: Alan Caron, president of Envision Maine, says charter schools can be laboratories for improving public education (Kennebec Journal).

Missouri: Public support for private school choice grows but legislative action to implement a voucher or tax-credit program fails each year (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Kansas City Star). The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board says voucher supporters have a selfish motive.

New Hampshire: The Concord Monitor says tax-credit scholarships are just a trick designed to skirt the state’s constitutional prohibition on funding religious schools.

New Mexico: In Albuquerque, 13 charter schools modified the state’s teacher evaluations by using teacher input in how to shape the evaluations (Albuquerque Journal).

New York: New York City council members look to revive the fight with charter schools (New York Post). A record number of students apply for open charter school seats in New York City (New York Times) requiring charters to turn away 50,000 applicants (Chalkbeat). Charter schools in Rochester want to work with and help the local district, but district leaders only view charters as a threat (Rochester Homepage). A local teacher union executive says charter schools are leeches that rob districts of funds and hurt the students who remain in public schools (Star Gazette). The Buffalo Teachers Federation issues a report on charter schools with “little comparative, average data between Buffalo charters, as a whole and Buffalo Public Schools,” says the Buffalo News. Columnist William McGurn says New York is failing black students by limiting educational options (New York Post).

North Carolina: A new bill will allow public school choice in the state (News & Observer, Times News). The Charlotte Observer editorial board believes conservatives want open enrollment in order to weaken public schools.

Ohio: A panel says charter schools aren’t accountable to the public (The Vindicator).

Oklahoma: A new charter school opening in downtown Oklahoma City will pay new teachers 20 percent more than district teachers (The Oklahoman).

Pennsylvania: A bill to adjust payments to schools for special needs students has a hold harmless provision for district schools but not charter schools is modified to allow charter schools will now give charter schools six years to adjust to the new formula (Patriot News).

Wisconsin: A paper for the Economic Policy Institute criticizes charter schools (Education Week). The U.S. Department of Justice seeks to enforce the ADA on private schools participating in voucher programs in the state (Watchdog). A new Catholic school is set to open with a classical curriculum, making it the only such Catholic school in Green Bay (Green Bay Press Gazette).

Nation: A new report from the Friedman Foundation takes a look at what happens when Catholic schools close and re-open as secular charter schools (redefinED).  A new report from the University of Arkansas finds the disparity between traditional public school and charter school funding grows (U.S. News and World Report, Education WeekredefinED,, Huffington Post). The Walton Family Foundation supports charter schools and voucher programs (Times-Picayune). Howard Dean supports charter schools and Teach for America (This Week in Education). The New  York Times exposes its own “left-wing bias” against education reform, says Reason Magazine. Columnist Thomas Sowell says the Walton family is being unfairly attacked for supporting the education of low-income students (Washington Examiner). Mike McShane says public schools still struggle with science education and you can’t blame vouchers and school choice for that (Tallahassee Democrat).

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BY reimaginED staff