A big plus was netted for charter schools when the Supreme Court considered Cleveland's school choice program in late February. During the hearing, when the opponents' attorney attempted to make the case that children's choices are limited to religious schools, and that the program is therefore impermissible under the first amendment, several Supreme Court Justices inquired about charter schools in Ohio and the choices they afford parents. It appears that the Court just may think that by providing additional public school choices charter schools play a necessary role in any school choice program.
When an issue makes it onto Jeopardy!, it has clearly arrived! Such was the case last month when Alex Trebec asked under the heading Department of Education "This new program received a major increase in the education budget." The teen contestant answered correctly: "What are Charter Schools?"
Since the first charter school opened its doors a decade ago, charter schools continue to be the instrument of change by ushering in innovation and providing options to families and communities.
In Florida's Miami-Dade County that promise of flexibility is exactly what Mayor Alex Penelas has in mind as he begins a foray into the charter arena. Penelas sees charter schools as a way to both serve children and relieve a pressing overcrowding problem. So he is joining other Florida cities that have sought innovative solutions as the first Florida county to do so.
Single-sex education is growing in demand and popularity thanks to charter schools. Albany, New York's Brighter Choice Charter School for Girls and Brighter Choice Charter School for Boys are scheduled to open this fall as companion single-sex elementary schools. The schools will share a building and administrators but serve the sexes separately.
Researchers have found that single sex education can benefit both boys and girls for different reasons. But public law requires equal accommodations for both sexes, so the novel approach taken by the Albany charter school is worth watching.
New options are coming to two Indiana school districts as they join other reformers in embracing charter schools. The districts have approved charter applications for two operating programs as charter school conversations. Those two join four approved by Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson and seven that have just been selected by Ball State University.
While charter schools have created new opportunities for countless families, they have also become the target of many whose traditional lock on public education has long stymied any attempt at real reform. Just a few examples say it all.
The headline covering Minnesota developments was all that need be said about the situation there: "Teachers Union Steps Up Attack on Charter Schools." The combined forces of the NEA and AFT are working to cap the number of charter schools and restrict their sponsorship to just local school boards.
The limits in the Illinois law that only permit 15 schools in Chicago, and 30 more around the state are still apparently not enough for some. Driven by union opposition, a bill is pending that would require certified teachers in charter schools- this comes even though the Prairie State has frequently been in the news for skills lacking among certified teachers.
Pennsylvania is the scene of a cyber-charter schools battle. More than a hundred school districts have spent over a million dollars to argue that TEACH - The Einstein Academy Charter School is a drain on their dollars. In the legislature , a moratorium on charter schools is pending, as is a bill that would require cybers to be funded by an emergency liquor tax. Meanwhile, the districts that have students attending the cyber-charter school have either delayed or outright failed to pay for those students, causing financial hardship at the schools.
Despite the hundreds of thousands of children who are enrolled in charter schools, high parental satisfaction and a growing number of studies that show charter schools are working and helping children achieve, opposition remains high. The war on charter schools is not new, but the intent of unions and their allies, and their tactics have been revealed in the Education Intelligence Agency's latest research report entitled Due & Forfeit: The Absorption of Charter Schools. As EIA explains: "Drawing on three sets of internal union documents, this 14-page report details the latest strategy formulated by NEA and its allies for dealing with charter schools. Even better, the report provides simple techniques to allow charter school operators and supporters to keep their schools out of the regular public school 'box.' Go to http://members.aol.com/educationintel/ to get your copy!
The Center for Education Reform