Charters & Choice

Overview

Charters & Choice

Over the past two decades, charter schools have emerged as the fastest growing form of school choice, outpacing other alternatives such as vouchers, magnet schools, and homeschooling. Charters have also become a touchstone for how people feel about a host of related issues: job protections for teachers, the role of elected school boards and teachers unions, and the privatization of schools. The materials compiled in this Topics section examine the ways charter schools and other school choice options play out in the education process.

Over the past two decades, charter schools have emerged as the fastest growing form of school choice, outpacing other alternatives such as vouchers, magnet schools, and homeschooling. Charters have also become a touchstone for how people feel about a host of related issues: job protections for teachers, the role of elected school boards and teachers unions, and the privatization of schools. The materials compiled in this Topics section examine the ways charter schools and other school choice options play out in the education process.

Charter schools are publicly funded but run by independent boards. Usually, their teachers are not unionized and the operators do not have to adhere to all of same government regulations as district schools. Critics of charter schools argue they represent an attack on the public education system, erode the power of school boards and teachers unions, and can drain traditional schools of resources and more motivated families. Supporters say charter schools’ relative freedom from traditional strictures allows them to “innovate” by lengthening the school day or experimenting with the curriculum, for example. Supporters also maintain charters provide families, particularly poor ones, with more options and, at their best, spur the rest of the public system to improve.

Historical Developments

The nation’s first modern charter school opened in 1992 in St. Paul, Minn., after that state became the first to pass legislation paving the way for the quasi-public, quasi-private schools. At the time of their inception, charter schools attracted politically diverse supporters with very different motivations. Some, including former American Federation of Teachers President Albert Shanker, hoped the schools might empower teachers to come together around a shared vision. Others, including William Bennett, the secretary of education under President Ronald Reagan, hoped charters would create an educational “marketplace” and challenge the government’s virtual monopoly on running schools. Those same tensions over the purpose of charters persist today.

Charter schools have grown rapidly in number since 1992, as most states have adopted legislation allowing for their creation. Charters proliferated in the wake of several unsuccessful efforts to create or expand school voucher programs—which direct public funds to private schools —in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Many state lawmakers, particularly Republicans, saw charters as a more politically viable means of introducing choice and competition into the public education sphere. In 2010, several states lifted their caps on the number of charter schools to compete more aggressively for a share of the $4.35 billion offered through the federal Race to the Top fund; U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan decided that states without restrictions on charter school growth would be favored in the application process. By 2011, only 10 states did not have some form of charter school law in place, and the number of students attending the independently run schools topped two million—up from 1.1 million five years earlier.

Charter school laws vary considerably among states. They differ in terms of who can approve and start a charter school, the length of the contract, and whether the teachers can belong to unions. About 12 percent of charter schools nationally were unionized as of 2010. Typically, state laws will spell out who can authorize charter schools: Most often state departments of education and local school boards serve as authorizers, although in some states universities, nonprofits, community groups and other governmental entities can as well. An independent charter board usually signs a contract—or “charter”—with the authorizer detailing the school’s plan and the performance goals it agrees to live up to over a set time frame.

Current Issues

In recent years, much of the debate over charter schools has focused on their performance, which most researchers concur is not significantly better or worse than traditional public schools, on average. One significantly comprehensive multi-state study found that 17 percent of charter schools outperformed traditional schools in reading and math on state achievement tests; 37 percent performed worse; and the rest, nearly half, performed about the same. That finding has hardly put the debate about charter schools to rest, however. Critics pointedly note that charter schools have failed to transform public education and continue to draw outsized attention and private funding given what they see as mediocre results. But charter supporters home in on the hundreds of charter schools that are outperforming their traditional counterparts, arguing that it’s these outliers whose work and approach should — and can — be replicated.

Charter schools’ education philosophy, curriculum, popularity, and funding vary just as much as their results. Some charters are highly structured, while others have adopted progressive educational approaches, including Montessori and project-based learning. Some have waiting lists of hundreds of students, while others struggle to fill their seats. And some receive millions of dollars from private donors or foundations, while others spend less per pupil than traditional schools.

About 30 percent of charter schools are overseen by charter management organizations (CMOs) or education management organizations (EMOs): groups that run multiple schools, sometimes in a single geographic area and other times across different cities or states. EMOs manage a set of schools, usually imposing curriculum choices from the top down. EMOs do not always manage just charter schools, and they are more likely to be for-profit than CMOs.

Charter management organizations tend to function less like businesses than EMOs; CMO schools are united more by a shared educational philosophy than a particular business structure. When a CMO runs multiple schools in the same city or geographic area, the schools typically share “central office” or “back office” services, however. A majority of the nation’s charter schools — about 70 percent — are unaffiliated with management organizations. But CMO-led schools are growing at a faster rate than other types of charter schools, and many people consider them to be the future of the charter school movement, particularly in cities. A string of recent reports put out by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington scrutinized the sustainability of charter management organizations, which often rely on private funding sources and require their staffs to work longer school days. The Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) is one of the best known CMOs; in early 2012, it operated 109 schools in 20 states.

The charter school movement also faces increasing scrutiny over whether authorizers have been aggressive enough in closing poor and mediocre charter schools, particularly because the premise of charters is that they trade greater autonomy for greater accountability. About 15 percent of charter schools have been forced to close, according to one charter advocacy organization.

Finally, in a few cities, charter schools are expanding so significantly they could take over the entire system within a few years. In New Orleans and Youngstown, Ohio, more than half of the city public schoolchildren attend charters; in three other cities, more than a third do so. For anti-charter activists, such rapid growth raises concerns about privatization and the wholesale displacement of elected school boards and teachers unions. Meanwhile, advocates hope the long-term results in cities like New Orleans and Youngstown will prove charters can effectively educate urban schoolchildren at scale.

Other Types of Choice

Voucher programs let families send their children to private schools using government-funded tuition vouchers. Usually, voucher programs are limited to low-income families or students with special needs. The first modern voucher program started in Milwaukee in 1990. A coalition of African-American Democrats in the city and conservative leaders at the state level fought for the program. Voucher debates often produce unlikely political coalitions: Backers who see school choice for poor families as a social justice issue are often joined by those who favor a market-oriented approach to education. There are currently several voucher programs across the country, including in the District of Columbia, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin. As with charter schools, the research on vouchers is very mixed. The limited data that exist suggest the academic impact of vouchers is negligible.

Tuition tax credits provide tax incentives for contributions to organizations that provide privately funded scholarships for students who want to attend private schools. In other forms, voucher-like tax credits offer parents who choose private schools some return on their costs. About a dozen states have some form of private school tax-credit program, including Arizona, Florida, and Iowa. Such programs have sometimes been described as “backdoor vouchers” because they create a more indirect mechanism for public money to subsidize private schools. Unlike vouchers, they are usually not limited to low-income or disabled students. Like charters, tax credit programs proliferated in the late 1990s and early 2000s as school choice backers discovered they were more politically palatable than vouchers.

Magnet schools usually have a specific theme or curricular focus, like the arts or technology, and draw students from throughout a city or geographic region. Magnets originated in the 1970s as part of voluntary and mandatory desegregation efforts across the country. The theory was that magnets would be able to attract diverse student bodies more easily than most neighborhood schools. In some cities magnets have selective admissions, meaning students have to audition or take a test to get in; in others they are open to all regardless of ability. Magnets declined in political popularity after the 1980s, when many states and cities started to dismantle school desegregation programs and charter schools began to flourish. Although their growth has stalled, magnet schools still exist in about 30 states and enroll about two million students, approximately the same number as charter schools.

Additional forms of school choice include home schooling, virtual schools, and interdistrict transfer programs.

Latest News

John Oliver on Charter Schools’ Corruption and Inefficiency

Charter schools are the one thing that just about everyone, regardless of political ideology, can agree on: These taxpayer-funded, privately run schools have been praised by President Obama, Donald Trump, George W. Bush, Bernie Sanders—heck, even Pitbull is a fan. But John Oliver is not on board. The Last Week Tonight host spent most of Sunday night’s show breaking down all the ways that the charter school system, while admirable in principle, can and does go terribly wrong.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Latinos, Standardized Tests and the Opt-Out Movement

Karen Falla of Univisión Dallas, left, moderated a discussion on standardized testing and the opt-out movement with panelists Peggy McLeod of National Council of La Raza, José Palma of the University of Minnesota, and Ruth Rodriguez of United Opt Out National (not pictured). Source: Leticia Espinosa/ Hoy

While the number of parents who opt out of having their kids take their states’ standardized tests has grown nationally, much of this movement appears to be made up of white, wealthier families. Latinos and other minorities seem to be less inclined to avoid standardized testing.

That should not be the case, said Ruth Rodriguez, an administrator with United Opt Out National.

Member Stories

August 12-18
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

Who oversees a sexual assault charge on college campuses? There’s no set rule, and in some cases sports boosters adjudicate cases concerning student-athletes, reports Jake New for Inside Higher Ed.

After their son died of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, this couple began asking questions about the cancer risk students who play on artificial turf face. The culprit may be the shredded tire bits deposited between the turf’s fake blades of grass, writes Debbie Cafazzo for The News Tribune.

Latest News

Can State Receivership Save a Failing Boston School?

The Dever Elementary School in Dorchester has cycled through five principals over the past two school years and is seeking another one. Discipline is a constant problem. Some teachers are fleeing, and many students don’t show up. Most who do perform poorly. This is not what was supposed to unfold when the state stepped in and took over the school in 2014.

Latest News

In Charter School Fight, Who Speaks for Communities of Color?

At the NAACP’s national convention last month in Cincinnati, the gathering of more than 2,000 delegates approved a resolution calling for a moratorium on charter schools, equating them with “the privatization” of the traditional public education system.

Days later, more than 50 African-American and social justice advocacy groups, including the Black Lives Matter network, unveiled a new policy agenda that also called for a moratorium on charter schools, arguing they represent a “systematic attack” on communities of color.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

‘Following the Money’: Reporter Shares Tips from Charter School Finance Investigation

Dan Mihalopoulos of the Chicago Sun-Times speaks at EWA's 2016 Spanish-language media convening about his investigation into the finances of Chicago's UNO charter school network. Source: Michael Marriott/ EWA

Charter schools have grown at a rapid rate over the past 20 years as parents, activist groups, lawmakers and others look for alternatives to the traditional public schools.

Supporters say charters can offer the freedom to be more creative in the curriculum they provide to support a wider range of needs for students.

Member Stories

July 28 – August 4
What we're reading by EWA members this past week

“At USC, the Warrior-Scholar Project aims to help veterans … hone academic and social skills that may be lacking or forgotten, dissuading many from considering a top-tier school,” writes Rosanna Xia of the Los Angeles Times

“Over 1 in 5 of California’s charter schools have restrictive admissions requirements or other exclusionary practices that keep out many students with the greatest academic needs,” reports Louis Freedberg of EdSource.

Latest News

How the Relationship Between L.A. Unified and Charter Schools Is ‘Like a Middle School Dance’

For years, parents in the nation’s second largest school district have faced disarray when trying to find the best place for their kids to learn.

There are about 10 types of public schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, many with their own admissions processes and schedules.

To address that problem, the school district has discussed creating a “unified enrollment system,” a one-stop-shopping experience for choosing between district schools.

Latest News

Beyond ‘Mad Men’: More Public Schools Advertise To Survive

The newest era of advertising may live within your public school district.

Families can choose where to go to school — private, charter or public school. The aim behind providing this choice? Proponents say it will force all schools to better themselves. Whether it has done that remains controversial. But it has given birth to a new reality for public schools: with education competition, comes the need for education marketing.

Member Stories

July 15 – July 21
What we're reading by EWA members these past two weeks

Larry Gordon of EdSource surveys the growing trend of universities opening satellite campuses in downtown centers, making completing degrees easier for adult learners in urban settings.

A charter school in East Oakland is offering an ambitious mix of rigorous summer academics mixed with art and play – a service typically reserved for middle-class parents willing to pay $300 a week for such programs. Sharon Noguchi of the San Jose Mercury News has more.

Latest News

Voucher Supporters, Foes Disagree On Financial Impact

A new report says Indiana’s school voucher program ran up a $53.2 million deficit, but backers of the program say it actually represents a net savings to taxpayers.

The program’s deficit grew from about $40 million from one year earlier, according to the report issued Monday by the Indiana Department of Education, run by Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, a Democrat who opposes vouchers. The program grew 12 percent during the school year to 32,686 students.

Latest News

Republicans and Education — Where They’ve Been and Where They’re Going

Last week, the Republican Platform Committee began to discuss what it thinks should be included in the “Great Families, Education, Health Care, and Criminal Justice” section of its 2016 Platform. Current points of agreement include the ideas that students are more likely to achieve academically if their parents are married heterosexuals, student data should be more private, and merit pay should be granted to high-performing teachers.

Latest News

Map: LA Unified Magnet Schools In Demand, but Slow to Expand

Los Angeles Unified’s magnet programs — with their free busing across the city, attractive curriculum themes and often-strong test scores — have long been among the district’s most highly-coveted schooling options. Though they began in 1977 as the heart of the district’s court-ordered desegregation program, they’ve taken on even broader appeal; Superintendent Michelle King has called them “flagship programs” for LAUSD and says the schools will play a key role in her plan to combat shrinking enrollment.

But magnet applicants face long odds and long waitlists.

Member Stories

July 7-14
Some of our favorite stories by EWA members this week

Holly Hacker of The Dallas Morning News takes readers inside the aftermath at El Centro College — what had been considered ”one of the safest places in downtown” — where a sniper carried out the deadly attack on police officers last week.

 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Boston Charter Aims to Innovate, Extend Reach

English teacher Caroline Bartlett began her work with Match Public Charter School as a tutor, and was hired out of the organization's training corps. (Photo credit: Match Public Charter School)

In early May at Match Public Charter School in Boston, 18 freshmen are preparing to discuss themes from “Lord of the Flies.” Their English teacher is Ashley Davis, a 26-year-old native of Cincinnati who’s in her second year of teaching, but acts like a veteran.

Davis will soon have her students explaining the biblical allusions in the 1954 novel and debating whether mankind is naturally good or evil.

Latest News

50 Years Ago, One Report Introduced Americans to the Black-White Achievement Gap. Here’s What We’ve Learned Since.

Over the last 50 years, the Coleman report has become its own institution. It has been scrutinized, corroborated, covered up, used to make social policy, and, ultimately, dramatically improved upon.

Here, we tell the story of the Coleman report and the important, fascinating, and still evolving school of research it has spawned. It is a story about how scholars have tried to unravel the tangled relationships between race, income, school, and children’s academic and life outcomes. And it is about the surprising conclusions they’ve reached.

Webinar

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

For education reporters, coming up with fresh ideas for back-to-school stories is an annual ritual. And if you’re balancing the K-12 and higher education beats, it can be an even bigger challenge.

Latest News

Cloning Great Schools Is Latest In Long Line Of L.A. Reform Plans

The latest reformers intent on improving Los Angeles schools are confident that they have it right. 

The trick, they say, is not to get shoehorned by theories or politics. Instead, simply find a good school and make another one just like it.

Then repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

Until 160,000 Los Angeles students in bad schools get into excellent ones. … 

Seminar

Covering Charters Schools at the 25-Year Mark
Location Announcing Soon • December 2016

Pixabay/Alain Audet

Barely a day goes by that charter schools aren’t in the news somewhere. A quarter century after the first state law allowing charters was enacted, the sector has expanded to serve upwards of 2.5 million students in 43 states. With this growth has come increased attention —  and intense scrutiny.

Latest News

Group Collects 20,000 Signatures to Get Charter Schools Expansion on Ballot

Great Schools Massachusetts, the business-backed group behind a ballot initiative to expand charter schools, yesterday delivered more than 20,000 signatures to the secretary of state’s office in support of a ballot question to expand access to public charter schools in Massachusetts — more than twice the amount required of the certification process.

“Along with numerous public polls, this is further evidence of the strong support from voters in the commonwealth to expand access to high quality public charter schools,” said GSM spokeswoman Eileen O’Connor.

Latest News

Where Integration Works: How One Indianapolis Private School Is Bringing Kids Together

When Aundre Hogue and his wife started looking for a school for their children, they wanted a place that was more than just diverse. The idea was to find a school not only with kids from different backgrounds but one where they felt a true connection to one another.

It’s a rarity in a country where even the most diverse schools are often socially divided, with white children sitting on one side of the cafeteria and black children sitting on the other.

Seminar

The U.S. Elections & Education: Part 1
Washington, D.C. • August 30, 2016

Now that the White House race has narrowed to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, how is education playing out as an issue in the campaign? Will it prove an important fault line between the Democratic and Republican candidates? Will Trump offer any details to contrast with Clinton’s extensive set of proposals from early childhood to higher education? What are the potential implications for schools and colleges depending on who wins the White House? Also, what other races this fall should be on the radar of journalists, whether elections for Congress, state legislatures, or governor?

Latest News

Hillary Clinton to NEA: If I Win, Educators Will Have a Partner in White House

Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, told the National Education Association Tuesday that, if elected, she would be educators’ ”partner in the White House,” invest in teacher training and wraparound services, and have their back when “union busting governors” or “hostile legislatures” try to take away their collective bargaining rights.

Clinton thanked the 3 million-member NEA, which is holding its annual convention here, for sticking by her in the surprisingly fierce primary against Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Latest News

Union Cheers Clinton for Stance on Testing and Pay, Boos Charter Embrace

Hillary Clinton delivered plenty of applause lines Tuesday in a speech to the nation’s largest teachers’ union at a gathering in Washington, calling for less standardized testing, more support for vulnerable children and more respect and pay for public school educators.

But Clinton also signaled her willingness to challenge union orthodoxy on the lightning rod issue of charter schools, saying that there are some successful charter schools whose approaches should be studied and replicated.

Latest News

Clinton’s Charter School Comments Prompt Boos at Teachers’ Union Event

Hillary Clinton on Tuesday said traditional public schools and charter schools should share ideas — a remark met with boos by delegates from the National Education Association’s representative assembly.

To the thousands of teachers gathered at the labor union’s annual conference, Clinton said “when schools get it right, whether they are traditional public schools or public charter schools, let’s figure out what’s working … and share it with schools across America.”

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Teachers’ Union Applauds Clinton Address, Except on Charters

Hillary Clinton shares her views and agenda for education in a July 5 speech to delegates for the National Education Association.
Photo credit: @KristenRec

Hillary Clinton vowed to be a partner with educators if she wins the White House, during a speech today to the nation’s largest teachers’ union. Clinton drew enthusiastic applause from National Education Association members for most of the address, including her calls to make preschool universally available, boost teacher pay, and ease the burden of paying for higher education.

But the presumptive Democratic nominee got a far more muted response, and even some jeers, when she made a positive plug — albeit very briefly — for charter schools.

Latest News

Investigation: Public School Residency Fraud Rampant in DC

Many of the 88,000 kids in the District of Columbia’s public and charter schools actually live in Maryland, with parents enrolling them illegally, an investigation from The Daily Caller News Foundation found.

Latest News

Teachers Union and Hedge Funds War Over Pension Billions

Some pension funds have withdrawn money from hedge-fund managers criticized by the teachers union. And some hedge-fund managers stopped making donations to advocacy groups targeted by Ms. Weingarten. Hedge funds, reluctant to buckle to the pressure, say Ms. Weingarten is doing a disservice to the teachers she represents, because funds should aim solely to earn the highest possible return on their assets. The personal beliefs or donations of hedge-fund managers, they argue, shouldn’t be a factor in that decision. At least one manager, Mr.

Latest News

Teachers Union and Hedge Funds War Over Pension Billions

Daniel Loeb, Paul Singer and dozens of other hedge-fund managers have poured millions of dollars into promoting charter schools in New York City and into groups that want to revamp pension plans for government workers, including teachers.

Original article

Latest News

John King Asks Charters To Lead In Rethinking Student Discipline

As innovators in the classroom, the nation’s education leader called on charter schools to rethink student discipline so more kids remain in the classroom and have the opportunity to learn.

U.S. Secretary of Education John King, who spoke Tuesday at the National Charter School Conference in Nashville, urged charter schools to “focus on innovating to lead the way for our children.” He added he doesn’t have specifics for how charter-operated schools should seek to keep more students in schools.

Latest News

Louisiana’s Private School Voucher Program Will Have Wait List

Due to the budget crisis in state government, Louisiana’s private school voucher program will not be able to take all students in the fall.

Latest News

After 25 Years, What’s Next For Charter Schools?

The major advocacy group for charter schools is meeting this week in Nashville, and there’s lots to celebrate. What began with a single state law in Minnesota has spread to a national movement of nearly 6,800 schools, serving just under 3 million students.

But at its annual meeting, the National National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is also using the moment to call for a fresh look at how these innovative public schools are managed and how they’re held accountable.

Latest News

For Detroit’s Children, More School Choice but Not Better Schools

On the face of it, Ana Rivera could have had almost any choice when it came to educating her two sons. For all the abandoned buildings and burned-down houses in her neighborhood in the southwest part of this city, national charter school companies had seen a market and were setting up shop within blocks of each other, making it easier to find a charter school than to buy a carton of milk.

But hers became the story of public education in a city grasping for its comeback: lots of choice, with no good choice.

Latest News

High Test Scores At a Nationally Lauded Charter Network, But at What Cost?

In interviews over the past two months, current and former employees at Rocketship Schools emphasized the pressures on employees and students.

They recounted instances of inadequate supervision, bathroom accidents and even infections due to denial of restroom visits. And they voiced concerns about a disciplinary measure the company calls Zone Zero. Several current and former staffers said this practice, in effect, amounted to hours of enforced silence.

Latest News

Academic Results of Online Schools Should Bring “Outrage” and Law Changes, National Charter School Group Says

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The nation’s main charter school advocacy group said people should be “outraged” at how little learning occurs at some online schools and called on states to take several steps to restrict and improve them.

The report today from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools pointed to a major study last year from Stanford University’s Center for Research of Educational Outcomes (CREDO) that found that e-school students learn far less than students in traditional schools.

Latest News

Data and the Debate Over Diversity in Charters

The Mastery School is one of three schools in Minneapolis’ Harvest Network of Schools, set up to serve almost exclusively low-income African-American and East African students—some in single-gender programs like this one. “African-American families have significant needs,” explained Eric Mahmoud, the founder of Harvest. “Many of our children are walking around with hundreds of years of history saying they can’t [make it].”

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Making School Choice Easier

Parents in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, D.C., gather for an informational meeting last year about the lottery process for public schools of choice. (Flickr/Wayan Vota)

It used to be simple to register your child for school – just go to your local school, fill out some paperwork and you’re done.

But in an era when school choice is increasingly widespread, the process isn’t always so easy.  

Member Stories

June 2-9
What we're reading by EWA members this week

Beth Fertig begins a week-long WNYC series, “Integration 2.0,” in a Manhattan school district working toward implementing a controlled choice admissions system to help schools balance their enrollment of low-income, at-risk students. 

 

Latest News

How One Brooklyn Charter School Integrates with Intention

Efforts to desegregate public schools are gathering steam across the country, prodded by both grassroots pressure and the federal government. U.S. Education Secretary John King said recently that school segregation is “a critical question for our country,” and called on advocates to “seize the moment.” 

Latest News

Proposed State Takeover of 5 Low-Performing Schools Passes NC House

Up to five low-performing schools would be turned over to charter operators under a controversial proposal the state House approved Thursday after an extended debate over how to help struggling students.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Students Stage Walkout, Want More Teachers of Color at Conn. Charter School

Source: Pixabay

“Diversity — (noun) the state of being diverse; variety”

Latest News

Opinion: Student Mobility Dropped in New Orleans, But Why?

I’ve noticed that one topic in school reform debates gets much less attention than it deserves: student mobility.

This is a key metric because it reflects both the hopes and the fears of proponents of choice and market-based reforms.

Latest News

How 3 Top New Orleans Public Schools Keep Students Out

At Audubon Charter School in Uptown New Orleans, preschoolers sat silently, absorbed in the task of using tweezers to place miniature pompoms in cups. Each carried a personally tailored list of skills for the day. Down the hall, another preschool teacher held up two bags of flour and asked in French, “Quelle quantité,” how many, to a chorus of “deux!”

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Wellness, Creativity, and Exemplary Teaching: The Codman Academy Formula

Physics teacher Maggie Mahmood works with sophomore students at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester, Mass. (Liana Heitin for EWA)

At Codman Academy Charter Public School, the walls in the lower school hallways aren’t covered in the bright reds, yellows, and oranges visitors might expect in an elementary setting. Instead, they’re subdued neutrals, mostly creams and browns. Rather than large chart paper displays and murals, there are natural wood panels, internal and external windows, and glass panels decorated with branches and leaves.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Charter School Sector’s Growing Pains

First Lady Michelle Obama talks with students during a college application rally at the Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. Charter schools have expanded significantly in recent years, including in the nation's capital. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Roughly 25 years after the first charter school opened in Minnesota, the debate over these publicly funded but independently operated campuses remains polarized.

Juan Cofield, the president of the NAACP’s New England Area Conference opposes a looming public referendum in Massachusetts to lift that state’s cap on the number of charter schools.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

When States Take Over Schools

Students at Roose Elementary School in Detroit in March 2016. (Flickr/A Healthier Michigan). The Motor City is just one example of where a state has intervened to assume oversight of a struggling public education system.

Most reporters dread seeing the next school board meeting on the calendar. But as more states take over failing schools, removing them from local control, some journalists are finding open and easily accessible meetings harder to come by, and recognizing the value of what they’ve lost.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Experts Say Teachers Are Being Taught Bad Science

Source: Nora Newcombe's presentation at EWA's National Seminar in Boston

Here’s a quick quiz. Rate the following statements on a scale from one to five, with one meaning you totally disagree and five meaning you wholeheartedly agree:

  • Beginners and experts essentially think in the same way.

  • Most people are either left-brained or right-brained.

  • Students learn more when information is tailored to their unique learning styles.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Nine Years of 100 Percent College Acceptance for This All-Minority Boys School

Source: Bigstock

“If you’ve made the commitment to go to school here, then you’ve made the commitment to go to college.”

Post

This Is What Happens When Charter Schools Think Big

Match Beyond has a bodacious goal: To invent a college program that wipes out undergraduate debt and cures poverty.

Not the rarefied college designed for that by-the-bootstraps, defy-the-odds high school senior trotted out for interviews and inspirational speeches when visitors come to high-poverty schools looking for their scholarship success stories.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Progressives in Massachusetts Shortchange Poor Kids, Governor Says

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker speaks at EWA's National Seminar in Boston. (Photo by Katherine Taylor for EWA)

Massachusetts has long been the poster child for education.

For years now it’s ranked at the top in the country for math and reading achievement, boasted impressive graduation rates and made a significant financial investments over the last few decades to get there.

It’s no slouch when it comes to higher education either. Massachusetts harbors some of the best colleges and universities in the world, and it’s joining a growing number of states looking to make college more affordable.

Member Stories

April 21-28
What we're reading by EWA members this week

Eva-Marie Ayala and Tawnell Hobbs of The Dallas Morning News write about a slew of problems on this year’s State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness – from a test question with no answer to a delivery to a church instead of a school. Now, a group of nearly 50 superintendents are questioning whether the results can be trusted.

 

Member Stories

April 14-21
What we're reading by EWA members this week

Louis Llovio of the Richmond Times-Dispatch writes about an appeals court ruling in favor of a transgender Virginia teen that could have implications for public restroom laws across the country.

 

Deepa Fernandes of KPCC reports that Los Angeles County will lose about 11,000 preschool seats in June — an annual economic toll of nearly $600 million, according to a new analysis released by the Institute for Child Success.

 

EWA Radio

In Detroit, School Choice Is ‘Six Hours, Eight Buses’
EWA Radio: Episode 68

US Department of Transportation

Is “school choice” a misnomer in Detroit, where options for students hinge heavily on their ability to find their own transportation?

Member Stories

March 31-April 7
What we're reading by EWA members this week

Eli Francovich of The Spokesman-Review publishes controversial PowerPoint slides of a Spokane Community College criminal justice professor who’s under investigation for discrimination. 

 

Peggy Barmore of The Hechinger Report writes about two new teacher licensing tests that some worry will make the profession even whiter.

 

Member Stories

March 24 – March 31
What we're reading by EWA members this week

Take a look at what Dan Mihalopoulos of the Chicago Sun-Times learned about a charter school network after successfully suing to receive its records.

Annie Martin writes for the Orlando Sentinel that if “your child’s teacher is punished in Orange County because he broke the law or district policies, don’t expect to hear school leaders discuss it or to find that information on the district’s website.”

Member Stories

March 17-24
What we're reading by EWA members this week

Alexandra Pannoni of U.S. News & World Report writes that curious high schoolers are already taking advantage of relaxed travel restrictions between the United States and Cuba, seeing a trip to the island as a chance to “travel back in time.”

 

Member Stories

March 11-March 17
What we're reading by EWA members this week

Dan Carsen of WBHM offers a perfect dispatch in the annals of school-lawmaker relations: With 50 education bills pending in Alabama, some legislators are visiting actual classrooms.

Thanks to this analysis of data on Texas college sports finances by Annie Daniel, Matthew Watkins and Ben Hasson of the Texas Tribune, we can easily note Texas A&M has a much more profitable sports program than rival University of Texas-Austin.

EWA Radio

Washington State’s Charter School Limbo
EWA Radio: Episode 64

(Flickr/kendura99)

Washington lawmakers and school choice advocates are scrambling to keep charter schools open in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling that declared the independently operated campuses unconstitutional. A compromise bill awaits Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature, and the families of more than 1,000 students are hoping for a last-minute legislative save.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

‘Private’ Charter Schools? Fact-Checking Bernie Sanders

Students and young adults asking the U.S. Senator from Vermont about issues ranging from education to immigration to crime to child care during a campaign event at Creative Visions, an organization founded by former Des Moines School Board member and current State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad. (Flickr/Phil Roeder)

At the Democratic Town Hall Sunday night in Columbus, Ohio, Sen. Bernie Sanders was asked whether he supported charter schools. The Democratic presidential candidate’s answer — imprecise at best — set off a flurry of responses in the Twittersphere, if not the audience at the CNN broadcast.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Will Washington State’s Charter Schools Survive?

The Washington State Capitol in Olympia, where lawmakers are looking for a legislative compromise to keep charter schools open. (Flickr/Mark Goebel)

A legislative Hail Mary intended to preserve Washington State’s fledgling charter schools is headed to the governor’s desk, the Seattle Times reports.

Member Stories

March 3-10
What we're reading by EWA members this week

Reporting from South by Southwest for The Hechinger Report, Nichole Dobo writes about a new nonprofit that will help districts get better deals on education technology. The Technology for Education Consortium, funded by the Gates Foundation, aims to curb ”price gouging” in the industry in an effort to save taxpayer dollars.

 

Report

The Health of the Charter Public School Movement
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

The Health of the Charter Public School Movement: A State-by-State Analysis evaluates the health of the charter public school movement in key states across the country. Following the first report released in October 2014, this second edition measures movement growth, innovation, and quality, while this year doubling the number of quality measures. Due to these quality additions, a total of 18 states with charter school laws met the criteria for inclusion in this year’s report.

Key Coverage

The Promise of Social and Emotional Learning in U.S. Schools

For the eighth grader Kimberly Wilborn, a lesson about Nelson Mandela made it all click.

“Ms. Plante was talking about Nelson Mandela and how he forgave his jailers,” remembers Wilborn, who is being raised by her aunt on Chicago’s South Side. “And I thought if he can forgive them, I can forgive my birth mom and my dad for not being there for me. I actually cried. It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.”

Member Stories

February 18-25
Highlighting some of our favorite stories of the week by EWA members

Linda Conner Lambeck and Silvia Foster-Frau of the Connecticut Post collect reactions to reports of a “ghetto-themed” party by Fairfield University students in off-campus housing. Students reportedly wore costumes to the party, which administrators have said “perpetuated racial stereotypes.”

 

Eva-Marie Ayala of the Dallas Morning News writes about a new University of Texas report that reveals two-thirds of community college students need at least one remedial class. 

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Lawsuit Alleges Principal Was Fired for Support of Hispanic Students

Source: Bigstock

An Alabama principal who was fired from her Catholic school post for allegedly embezzling funds claims in a new federal lawsuit that she was instead retaliated against for defending Hispanic students.

EWA Radio

Chicago’s Noble Charter Schools: A Model Network?
EWA Radio: Episode 60

Flickr/Mike Procario

In the Windy City, one out of every 10 high schoolers is enrolled at a campus in the Noble Network of Charter Schools. And while Noble students typically perform well, the network is facing some growing pains in the nation’s third-largest school district. Among the challenges: An increasingly diverse student population, competition for enrollment from traditional Chicago Public Schools campuses seeking to reinvent themselves, and concerns about Noble’s strict discipline policies and emphasis on preparing for the ACT college entrance exam.

Report

A Closer Look at the Charter School Movement: Schools, Students, and Management Organizations, 2015- 16
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

Enrollment in charter public schools has grown by 250,000 students in the 2015-16 school year, and more than 400 new charter public schools have opened their doors, according to, A Closer Look at the Charter School Movement: Schools, Students, and Management Organizations, 2015- 16. The report also estimates that the total number of students currently attending charter public schools is nearly 3 million, representing a sixfold increase in charter school enrollment over the past 15 years.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Charters And School Choice Challenged In Washington State, Nevada

A district court judge upheld a request to block implementation of Nevada's new Education Savings Accounts. An appeal to the state's Supreme Court is expected. (Flickr/Ken Lund)

In the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling that its new charter school law was unconstitutional, Washington lawmakers have approved a creative fiscal workaround that could allow the public but largely independent schools to remain open. 

EWA Radio

Diversity & School Choice in New York City
EWA Radio: Episode 55

(Flickr/Mikel Ortega)

New York City is one of the world’s great melting pots — so why aren’t efforts to diversify its schools taking hold?

As one of several Chalkbeat New York writers contributing to a new series, Patrick Wall is taking a close look at how school choice is playing out in the nation’s largest school district.

He spoke with EWA Public Editor Emily Richmond about some of the complexities of New York CIty’s multilayered approach for sorting students, and shared ideas for local reporters looking to dive into the data on school diversity in their own communities.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

England’s Charter-Style Schools on Rise

Students board the train home in Whitby, England. (Flickr/Matt Buck)

Without a doubt, the biggest change to the educational landscape in England over the next few years will be the growth of so-called academies and free schools, both modeled at least in part on U.S. charter schools. 

Prime Minister David Cameron has said he would like every government-funded school in England to be a free school or academy by 2020. At present, they represent 60 percent of the country’s roughly 2,000 state-supported secondary schools.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Can Kicking Down Conventions Close the Achievement Gap?

Larry Rosenstock speaks to reporters during EWA's seminar on motivation in November. (Photo credit: EWA/Michael Marriott)

At High Tech High School in San Diego, there are no bells that signal the start of class periods. There are no seven-period days, no mock standardized assessments and no lectures.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Deeper Learning, Smarter Testing

Linda Darling-Hammond speaks to reporters at a seminar on motivation at Stanford in November. (Photo credit: EWA/Michael Marriott)

Since 2003, more information is produced every two days than the total sum of information produced between that year and the dawn of time, the CEO of Google said in 2010.  Easily web-accessible facts, names and articles have grown exponentially, so much so that some say students can’t be taught like they were in the past, when rote memorization was the gold standard for learning and information wasn’t at almost everyone’s fingertips.

Report

High School Closures in New York City

In the first decade of the 21st century, the NYC Department of Education implemented a set of large-scale and much debated high school reforms, which included closing large, low-performing schools, opening new small schools and extending high school choice to students throughout the district. The school closure process was the most controversial of these efforts. Yet, apart from the general sense that school closures are painful, there has never been a rigorous assessment of their impact in NYC.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

#EWAElection Tweets: Pre-K-12 Education in the 2016 Race

Source: Twitter/ @EdWriters
EWA Radio

Why Did the Feds’ School Improvement Grant Program Fall Short?
EWA Radio: Episode 48

(Bigstock/zimmytws)

Education reporter Caitlin Emma (Politico Pro) spoke with EWA Radio about her deep dive into the federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) program, which invested more than $4 billion into efforts to turn around some of the nation’s lowest achieving schools.

Report

State Capacity to Support School Turnaround
Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

More than 80 percent of states made turning around low-performing schools a high priority, but at least 50 percent found it very difficult to turn around low-performing schools. 38 states (76 percent) reported significant gaps in expertise for supporting school turnaround in 2012, and that number increased to 40 (80 percent) in 2013.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

State, Local Election Results Signal Shifts for Ed. Policy

(Flickr/Stephen Valasco)

Kentucky was the first state to adopt the Common Core, but with a new Republican governor elected Tuesday who opposes the standards for English language arts and math, that pioneering legacy could be upended.

Key Coverage

Left Behind: The Unintended Consequences Of School Choice

Once a powerhouse Class AAAA school, North Charleston High can barely field sports teams anymore. Half of its classrooms sit empty. Saddled with a reputation for fights, drugs, gangs and students who can’t learn, middle-class families no longer give it a chance.

This is the unintended consequence of school choice.

Two-thirds of students in its attendance zone now flee to myriad magnets, charters and other school choices that beckon the brightest and most motivated from schools like this one.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Will Washington State’s Supreme Court Ruling End Charter Schools?

The Temple of Justice, where the Washington Supreme Court convenes, in Olympia. (Flickr/OnceAndFutureLaura)

Washington’s new charter school law was ruled unconstitutional Friday by the state’s Supreme Court, “creating chaos for the hundreds of families whose children have already started classes,” the Seattle Times reported.

EWA Radio

Summer Reading List: “The Prize”
EWA Radio: Episode 38

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

In 2010, billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced an unprecedented gift: he would donate $100 million to the public school district of Newark, New Jersey (dollars that would eventually be matched by private partners).

Dale Russakoff, a longtime reporter for The Washington Post, spent more than three years reporting on what turned into a massive experiment in top-down educational interventions—with decidedly mixed results. 

Seminar

69th EWA National Seminar

The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is thrilled to announce that its annual conference will take place from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in the historic city of Boston.

Co-hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and School of Education, EWA’s 69th National Seminar will examine a wide array of timely topics in education — from early childhood through career — while expanding and sharpening participants’ skills in reporting and storytelling.

Boston, Massachusetts
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Parachutes and Shoe Leather: Reporting on New Orleans’ Schools

Students participate in the "Rethinking New Orleans Schools" Conference in 2009. (Flickr/Laura Slotkoff)

It would be difficult to find an education writer who has put in more time, or produced more nuanced stories, examining the big changes in New Orleans’ public schools sector than Sarah Carr. She spent seven years covering the post-hurricane education landscape, and its transition to nearly all charter schools.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

ACLU Sues to Block Nevada’s School Choice Law

Many neighborhood schools in the Las Vegas Valley have a clear view of the city's fabled Strip. (Flickr/Andrew)

The ACLU of Nevada has announced that it will challenge the state’s new, high-profile “education savings account” law. The measure would provide up to approximately $5,000 per child in public dollars to pay for school choice –including private or parochial school tuition — as well as other educational expenses.

The Nevada law has drawn national notice, as experts consider it unprecedented in scope, since most families in the state are eligible to participate.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

National Education Polls Tell Two Stories, Impact on Elections Tough to Gauge

Flickr/Christopher Sessums (CC BY 2.0)

Getting a read on the American public’s views on education is no easy task, made more complicated by just how much local schools vary. In a country with more than 13,000 school districts that enroll nearly 50 million students, a range of experiences and perspectives are to be expected.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

After Katrina: New Orleans Schools Fight to Flourish

An abandoned school bus in New Orleans in 2005. (Flickr/Gilbert Mercier)

A decade after the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, the city continues its struggle to recover. Most of the local public schools were replaced by (public) charter schools in the wake of the storm. This dramatic shift in the city’s public education “system” is firmly in the national spotlight as an ongoing experiment in school choice and reform.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

A Look at Latino Charter School Students in California

“The spread of charter schools throughout the East Bay and California is often viewed as a blessing or curse, depending on whom you ask,” a recent Contra Costa Times article begins. 

But among Latinos in the area, it would appear to be the former, according to the newspaper’s analysis of charter school demographics in Oakland, California, where charter schools have seen their enrollment nearly triple over the past decade. 

Multimedia

Trends in Charter School Finance
2015 EWA National Seminar

Trends in Charter School Finance

Funding for charter schools is a complex and divisive issue. Do charters get an equitable share of public dollars? How do school facilities fit into the equation, as well as private sources of support for the charter sector? What are recent evolutions in policy concerning charter finance and facilities, and what’s on the horizon?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

New Flavor of School Choice Policy Gains Ground in States

The trophy case at the highly regarded Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. A new Nevada law will allow parents to access state funds to pay for educational expenses, including tuition at private or parochial schools. (Flickr/David Syzdek)

The sweeping new school choice law in Nevada — or more precisely, educational choice law — has attracted significant national media coverage and analysis. Nevada public school families can apply to spend more than $5,000 in state aid per child on private school tuition or other educational expenses each year, including tutoring, online courses, textbooks, and even home-schooling.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

At Catholic High School, Chicago Students Earn While They Learn

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School's principal Pat Garrity, left, and its vice president of advancement, Elizabeth White. (Sarah Darville for EWA)

When Carolyn Alessio assigned her students to prepare to act out a trial to probe the themes of “Frankenstein,” she was surprised at what she found at the top of a few of their supporting documents — perfectly formatted docket numbers.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Chicago Students Soar at Noble Charter High School

At Noble Charter High School in Chicago, seniors decorate their lockers with the names of colleges to which they've been accepted. (Jessica Huseman for EWA)

The Noble Network of Charter Schools is arguably Chicago’s most famous charter chain. Despite having schools only in one city and operating exclusively at the high school level, charter advocates now consider Noble to be in the same tier as KIPP and Achievement First — national brands in the no-excuses charter arena.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Urban Schools Landscape: Lessons From Chicago

Students a campus operated by the University of Chicago's charter school network. The Windy City's education policies took center stage during a session at EWA's 68th National Seminar. (Seong-Ah Cho, Urban Education Institute)

Urban education leaders crammed a marathon of Chicago’s public education woes and wonders into a 45-minute session (more akin to a 5K race) at the Education Writers Association’s recent National Seminar in Chicago.

Sara Ray Stoelinga, the director of the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute, joined colleague Timothy Knowles for a breakfast panel titled “10 Lessons to Take Home From Chicago” at the EWA event.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Ten Questions to Ask on Nevada’s New School Choice Law

The Nevada Legislative Building in Carson City. The Silver State's newly approved school voucher law is attracting national attention for its breadth and depth. (Flickr/Ken Lund)

Nevada this week drew national attention after Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval signed legislation creating a universal school choice program that appears to be unprecedented in scope.

It’s what’s known as an “education savings account” program, though it’s similar in some respects to voucher initiatives. Or, as one analyst said, it’s akin to “a voucher on steroids.”

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Students, Teachers Thrive at U. of Chicago Charter School

Kindergarteners at the NKO campus of the UChicago Charter during a visit by EWA members in April 2015. (Beth Hawkins for EWA)

What’s most notable about the Chicago kindergarten class where assistant teacher Nichelle Bell is temporarily in charge is what is not happening. Teachers are not redirecting pupils, who are not off-task. Hands are not in other people’s spaces. Voices—those of children and adults—are not raised.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Charter Schools: Following the Money

President Obama visits the Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School in New Orleans. The city has become fertile territory for charter operators, and reporters writing about the publicly funded campuses.  (Pete Souza for The White House)

Reporters should pay attention not just to the amount of money charter schools receive but how they are spending it, reporter and moderator Sarah Carr said as she kicked off a session on charter school finance at the Education Writers Association’s recent National Seminar in Chicago.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Covering School Choice, On a Deadline

Erik Robelen, EWA deputy director, introduces reporters at National Seminar in Chicago in April, 2015. (Madeleine Cummings)

When Lori Higgins of the Detroit Free Press began investigating for a series on charter schools, she and her colleagues gathered in a conference room at the Michigan Department of Education and started flipping through blue binders on every charter school in the state. The reporters pored over contracts and leases, filed Freedom of Information Act requests, visited schools, interviewed teachers, and had a data expert analyze student test scores.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Holding Charter Schools Accountable

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visits  Pembroke Pines Charter High School in Florida in 2012. Some policy analysts contend the bar for authorizing new charter schools is set too low in the Sunshine State as well as Arizona. (Flickr/U.S. Department of Education)

With charter schools serving about 6 percent of America’s public school students, most everyone — from teachers’ unions to researchers to right-leaning advocates — seems to agree that the publicly funded but independently run schools are here to stay. That much was clear from an Education Writers Association panel on the future of charter schools, held last month in Denver.

But what happens next is up for debate.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Charter School Quality Conundrum

Merrimack College student Megan Donahue completing her graduate practicum at the Lawrence Family Development Charter School, in Lawrence, Mass. A recent study finds charter schools in that state have relatively strong achievement, but across the nation quality has been very uneven. (Flickr/Merrimack College)

Charter schools increasingly are being scrutinized for the exact problem many advocates hoped they would help solve: poor student outcomes. How exactly to deal with those schools that do not meet academic expectations—or fail in other regards, such as employing questionable business practices or not being equitable in welcoming all students—have become key concerns.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Virtual Choices: Opportunities and Challenges for Online Schools

Flickr/Todd Ludwig

For students looking for greater flexibility in their learning environment, virtual schools can be a better option than a traditional bricks-and-mortar K-12 campus. But some online programs operating in more than two dozen states have come under scrutiny for reaping profits while yielding poor academic academic outcomes.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Two Authors, Two Views on Future of Charter Schools

Authors Richard Whitmire (left) and Richard Kahlenberg speak with EWA's Erik Robelen at the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs. (EWA/Emily Richmond)

Where are charter schools headed? Two authors offer different takes on the movement.

A pair of recent books provide notably different takes on the charter schools sector, including its strengths and weaknesses, as well as what the main focus of these public schools of choice should be.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Debating the Special Education Challenge in Charter Schools

As the charter schools sector faces increased scrutiny for educating a smaller share of students with disabilities than traditional public schools, the conversation is increasingly focused on better understanding the reasons and looking for ways to improve the situation.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

On School Choice, Denver Grapples With Equity

Students at the Girls Athletic Leadership School, a Denver charter campus, begin their day with yoga. School leaders say transportation issues pose a significant hurdle for prospective families. (EWA/Emily Richmond)

Denver Public Schools has made strides in creating educational choices for families in the city, but still has work ahead to make those choices accessible to everyone, experts and a district leader agreed during a panel discussion last week in Denver.

The district, with nearly 90,000 students, has a variety of school options and a single, uniform application process for attending any of the city’s public schools.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

10 Years After Katrina, What Are the K-12 Lessons From New Orleans?

Hurricane Katrina sparked an unprecedented public education experiment in New Orleans. Panelists at EWA's seminar on charters and choice explored the lessons it may have for the rest of the country.
Source: Flickr/ News Muse (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Nearly a decade ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and, in doing so, catalyzed one of the most dramatic expansions of school choice in the country. With so many schools destroyed and students displaced, the state and city started from scratch.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Charters & Choice: EWA in Denver

Paul Teske, dean of the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs, and EWA Executive Director Caroline Hendrie.  (EWA/Emily Richmond)

We spent two days in Denver last week talking about charter schools and choice with a wide range of academic experts, policymakers, and educators. 

Also presenting were journalists who recently undertook large-scale investigative reporting projects of the charter school world: David Jesse (representing the reporting team at the Detroit Free Press) and Dan Mihalopoulos of the Chicago Sun-Times:

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Debate Over Private Schools and Public Funding

Top journo tweets from #EWAChoice’s fourth Saturday session.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Charter School Lessons in Post-Katrina New Orleans

Top tweets from #EWAChoice’s third Saturday session. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Do Parents in Cities with Many Charter Schools Get the Information They Need?

Top tweets from reporters about the second Saturday session of #EWAChoice. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What Goes Into Charter School Quality and Accountability?

Top journo tweets about the first session of the second day of #EWAChoice. 

Multimedia

Special Education and Charter Schools
Charters & Choice Seminar

Special Education and Charter Schools

A worrisome dimension of charter schooling is the oftentimes disproportionately low share of students with disabilities served by this sector of public education. Experts explore what explains the situation, what’s being done about it, and highlight examples where intensive work is underway to ensure that charters effectively serve the needs of all children, including those with disabilities.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Two Writers Give Tips on Covering Charter Schools

Top tweets from #EWAChoice’s fourth panel.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Virtual Charter Schools

Top tweets about the panel on virtual charters at #EWAChoice

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Eye on Denver’s Charter and Choice Landscape

Top tweets from “Eye on Denver” — the second session at #EWAChoice

Blog: The Educated Reporter

School Choice Policy and Politics: What’s Ahead?

Top Tweets from #EWAChoice’s first session

Multimedia

School Choice Policy and Politics: What’s Ahead?
Charters & Choice Seminar

School Choice Policy and Politics: What’s Ahead?

Republican gains in the 2014 elections set the stage for a renewed push to expand school choice at the state and federal levels, including charter schools, vouchers, and tuition tax credits. What legislation is emerging and what stands the greatest likelihood of becoming law? To what extent will policymakers respond to concerns about quality and accountability in schools of choice?

Multimedia

Private Schools and Public Funding
Charters & Choice Seminar

Private Schools and Public Funding

Public policy efforts to expand private school choice continue to grow, and may well get a boost from GOP gains in the midterm elections last fall. From vouchers to tuition tax credits and education savings accounts, what’s happening, what’s on the horizon, and why? How do these initiatives vary across states and cities? What role does and should testing and accountability play in publicly subsidized choice initiatives? Where do key legal challenges stand?

Multimedia

Lessons From New Orleans
Charters & Choice Seminar

Lessons From New Orleans

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the storm that sparked an unprecedented experiment in public education in New Orleans. Nearly all public schools in the city are now charters. A decade in, what have we learned about the New Orleans experience and what lessons does it offer to other states and communities that are looking to ramp up the role of charters and choice in public education?

Multimedia

Eye on Denver
Charters & Choice Seminar

Eye on Denver

This city has developed a robust and diverse set of public school options for students, including several dozen charter schools as well as the district’s own “innovation” schools. Denver is also seen as a place, unlike many, where the district and the charter sectors play well together. What does school choice look like in Denver? How meaningful are the options for students? Is the choice landscape promoting equity?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

School Choice: Keeping Parents Informed

A classroom at Summit Public School: Denali, a charter campus in Sunnyvale, Calif. (EWA/Emily Richmond)

When I was a beat reporter in Las Vegas, families were constantly on the move. And my phone was constantly ringing with parents all asking for the same information: What’s the best school in town, and how do I get my child enrolled? 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Sen. Alexander: Federal Dollars Should Follow Students

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee. (Flickr/Talk Radio News Service)

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, a leading Republican on education issues, delivered a pitch for expanding school choice, including by making federal Title I dollars “portable.” The idea, which is not exactly new, is that money under the $14.5 billion program for disadvantaged students would follow low-income children to the public school of their choice. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How One Charter Group Took a Start-Up Approach to Teaching

Classroom with Chromebooks Flickr/kjarrett (CC BY 2.0)

At Summit Public School: Denali, young learners do it differently. Most of the students at this Bay Area-area school complete their coursework on school-issued Chromebooks, where they access a portal to online videos, assigned readings and interim assessments they take at their own pace. It’s a competency-based approach to proving they have mastered the subject at hand. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Charter Schools: How Does Your State Law Rate?

Students at the University of Chicago Charter School's Carter G. Woodson Campus. (Flickr/Lucy Gray)

Minnesota ranked at the top of an advocacy group’s list of states with the most flexible charter school laws, with Maryland coming in last in the nation.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The 2015 Education Beat: Common Core, Testing, School Choice

Students at New York University work on a computer programming project. More interactive learning is expected to be a hot topic in the coming year on both the K-12 and higher education beats. (Flickr/Matylda Czarnecka)

There’s a busy year ahead on the schools beat – I talked to reporters, policy analysts and educators to put together a cheat sheet to a few of the stories you can expect to be on the front burner in the coming months: 

Revamping No Child Left Behind

Webinar

How Do Reporters Answer the Question ‘What School Is Best for My Kid?’
Webinar on School Choice Data

How Do Reporters Answer the Question ‘What School Is Best for My Kid?’

Is there an objective way of presenting school data that transcends the politics of school choice?

How do reporters and news outlets more broadly serve their readership with relevant information about schools in their communities?

Report

How Parents Experience Public School Choice

This report examines parents’ experiences with public school choice across eight “high-choice” cities: Baltimore, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. In each city, researchers surveyed 500 public school parents (4,000 total) and collected data on the systems that shape how they navigate school choice, including the availability of information, the process of enrolling, and transportation options.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Impact Academy: Rethinking Student Assessment

Sophie Wellington at Impact Academy, Nov. 19, 2014. (EWA/Lori Crouch)

On a recent Wednesday morning, 11th-grader Sophia Wellington took to the undersized stage at the front of her high school gym and with seamless poise demonstrated what smarter student assessment could look like.

Seminar

Charters & Choice: Making Sense of the Fast-Evolving Landscape in K-12 Education
Journalist-Only Seminar

Charter schools. Vouchers. Education tax credits. The “portfolio” model of schooling in cities. It’s nearly impossible to find consensus on these hot-button issues, but one thing is clear: American families are seeing more school options at the K-12 level than ever before, especially in urban areas. And the Republican gains in the 2014 elections at the federal and state levels are widely expected to provide further impetus for expanding school choice.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

New Developments Signal More Growth for Charters

The nation’s charter schools sector appears poised for still more growth — and potentially increased geographic diversity — as several states that have long resisted the push for charters may finally allow them. Also, a fresh round of federal grants and new expansion plans by charter networks are fueling the upward trend.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Five Questions For… NCEE’s Marc Tucker
On School Accountability, Teachers, and the Common Core

Marc Tucker

Marc Tucker, president and chief executive of the National Center on Education and the Economy, recently unveiled a proposed accountability plan for public schools that includes significantly reducing the number of tests students take, and building extensive professional development time for teachers into every school day. He spoke with EWA.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Nashville Charter School Focuses on Neighborhood’s Needs

When LEAD Public Schools came into Nashville in 2010, they took over a campus that had seen a history of low performance and substantial overhauls. Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools intended to close the site – most recently occupied by Cameron Middle School – outright.

“This was a persistently struggling school for quite some time,” said Shaka Mitchell, who oversees public affairs for the Nashville charter network.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Catholic School Program Preps Minority Applicants

The small number of Latino and black students admitted to the elite high schools of the New York City public school system has been a source of frustration among civil rights leaders, families and other advocates for years. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Nashville Magnet School Students Sing Different Tune

More than a few reporters at EWA’s National Seminar who signed up for the visit to Pearl Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School in Nashville suggested that the campus would certainly be infused with country music elements. Perhaps cowboy hats and boots on each student, with future Taylor Swifts and Scotty McCreerys singing their way through the halls – right?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Authorizer Effect: Creating High-Quality Charter Schools

The Authorizer Effect: Creating High-Quality Charter Schools

Can the quality of a charter school be determined by the entity providing the authorization?

While the research on this question has been mixed, education and policy analysts agree that charter school authorizers wield significant power – particularly when it comes to deciding to launch a school, or to shutter one that fails to meet expectations.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What Happens When States Take Over School Districts?

Dan Varner of Excellent Schools Detroit speaks at the 67th National Seminar.

State takeover districts have been lauded as the savior of children left behind by inept local school boards — and derided as anti-democratic fireworks shows that don’t address the root causes of poor education. Three panelists took an hour during EWA’s National Seminar in Nashville to get beyond the flash and noise and discuss the real challenges of state school takeovers, a process all acknowledged is disruptive.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Will ‘Portfolio District Model’ Yield Returns on Investment?

The idea has a simple, seductive appeal. Expand the things that work, cut short the things that don’t.

The notion, drawn from the investment world, has manifested itself in public education as the “Portfolio District Model.” Instead of managing stocks and bonds, school districts manage schools, creating or expanding successful ones, closing unsuccessful ones, focusing with zeal on academic results.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

An International Viewpoint on Vouchers

Some of these Swedish soccer fans likely went to a school that's part of Sweden's voucher system. (Source: Wikimedia)

Do choice and competition improve education systems? Plenty of advocates and well-heeled foundations think so, underwriting research and efforts to bring more charter schools and voucher programs to fruition. But in Sweden, the market dynamics of school choice seem to have produced troubling results for the Scandinavian nation.

EWA Radio

Michigan’s Charter Schools: Detroit Free Press Digs Deep
EWA Radio, Episode 7

A year-long investigation into Michigan’s charter schools by the Detroit Free Press uncovered wasteful spending, cozy contracts, and missed opportunities to shut down long-struggling campuses, according to the newspaper.

Key Coverage

Florida’s Charter Schools: Unsupervised Investigation

Unchecked charter-school operators are exploiting South Florida’s public school system, collecting taxpayer dollars for schools that quickly shut down.

A recent spate of charter-school closings illustrates weaknesses in state law: virtually anyone can open or run a charter school and spend public education money with near impunity, a Sun Sentinel investigation found.

Multimedia

The Authorizer Effect

The Authorizer Effect

Whether it’s a curriculum that makes religion the fourth “R,” a principal who steers lucrative contracts to family members, or test scores that remain stuck in the cellar, charter schools often make the news for all the wrong reasons. Analysts have long seen a connection between problem charters and the process for deciding who gets a charter to operate in the first place. But how much difference does the quality of charter authorizing actually make? Have efforts to strengthen charter authorizing been effective, and if so, where?

Multimedia

Achieving a New State: A Look at State Turnaround Districts

Achieving a New State: A Look at State Turnaround Districts

More places are experimenting with state-run initiatives to address chronically low-performing public schools. Converting such schools to charters is among the strategies these state-led districts employ. We showcase leading examples of the trend, including the Achievement School District in Tennessee. Observers also comment on the Louisiana Recovery School District and the Michigan Education Achievement Authority. How well are their strategies working?

Report

The State of Charter School Authorizing 2013
National Association of Charter School Authorizers

“The authorizing field passed a notable milestone 2013, exceeding one thousand active charter school authorizers. The ranks have grown with impressive speed, from 712 in 2008 to 1,045 in 2013, a 47 percent increase in just five years.”

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Report: Connecticut Charter Schools are Highly Segregated

A new report on Connecticut charter school enrollment concludes that few are achieving the goal of ethnic and racial integration — even though state laws call on charter schools to reduce segregation.

The study by Connecticut Voices for Children also found that few English Language Learners are enrolled in charter schools.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Study: New York Schools Most Segregated in Nation

New York City may be renown as a melting pot, but a new study reveals that the city’s schools are not the picture of diversity.

The Civil Rights Project at UCLA released a report this week, ”New York State’s Extreme School Segregation: Inequality, Inaction and a Damaged Future,” examining segregation trends between 1989 and 2010. 

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Study of LA Charter Schools Finds Hispanic Gains

Hispanic students who attend Los Angeles charter schools make greater gains in reading and math over the course of a year than their Hispanic peers in traditional public schools, according to a new study. 

The study, “Charter School Performance in Los Angeles,” was conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

New Polls Show Americans Frustrated With State of Education

New Polls Show Americans Frustrated With State of Education

At 9 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, EWA’s Emily Richmond talks with Phi Delta Kappa’s Bill Bushaw about a new Gallup/PDK poll on attitudes toward public education. Watch it here!

The PDK/Gallup poll generated some media buzz, and when viewed alongside two other education polls released this week, reveals a populace that has an ambivalent view on the state of U.S. schools. 

Catch up with news coverage of the polls’ results and responses from stakeholders below:

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Dissecting the Data on Charter Schools

A new study from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) concludes that charter school students in some states are making respectable academic gains while others are falling behind their peers at traditional public schools. (You’ll find a handy aggregation of the media coverage at EdMedia Commons.) The new CREDO report, like much of the charter schools research, is expected to spur criticism of its methodology and findings.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

New Study Finds Early Predictors of Charter School Success

A charter school’s performance in its first three years of operation is a solid predictor of the program’s long-term chances of success, a new study by Stanford University researchers concludes.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Rates States’ Laws

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, an advocacy organization, has released its new report “Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter School Laws.” States were ranked based on a variety of factors including how difficult it is for charters to get up and running, whether states allow multiple authorizers (which typically means organizers have more opportunities to win approval), and whether there is a cap on the total number of charter schools allowed to operate.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Charter Schools Hit Milestone Twenty Years in the Making

The number of charter schools in the United States has topped 6,000 for the first time since the first independently operated public campus launched 20 years ago.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Election Results: Charter Schools Have Narrow Lead in Washington State, Missouri Says No To Tobacco Tax Hike for Education

There will be plenty of discussion in the coming days and weeks about what a second-term Obama administration will mean for education. But first I wanted to follow up on some statewide initiatives and ballot contests mentioned here earlier in the week:

EdMedia Commons Archive

Five Questions For … Nina Rees, Newly Named President and CEO of the National Alliance For Public Charter Schools

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, representing 5,600 schools in 41 states and the District of Columbia, has announced the appointment of Nina Rees as the organization’s new president and chief executive officer. Rees previously served as first assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement at the U.S. Department of Education, and more recently spent more than six years as senior vice president for strategic initiatives for Knowledge Universe, a global education company.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Parent Trigger: Too Much Firepower for Public Education?

There’s a significant buzz out of Florida regarding proposed legislation that would enact a so-called “Parent Trigger:” Dissatisfied families could vote to have a local public school undergo significant restructuring including being converted to a charter school or turned over to a private operator.

Similar legislation has passed in California and Texas, not without controversy and ensuing conflict, and Indiana is also considering enacting a parent trigger.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

More on U.S. News’ ‘Best High Schools:’ Top-Ranked Campuses Include Magnets, Charters

Among the top 20 campuses in U.S. News & World Report’s new rankings for the “Best High Schools” were two magnet schools and four charter schools, indicating that some students are indeed thriving in alternative public education environments.

Report

2014 Survey of America’s Charter Schools
The Center for Education Reform

The report provides an in-depth analysis of charter schools students, operations, and teachers. It discusses trends over time in size and scope; demographics; finance and operations; and academic programs of charter schools and insights into why these independent schools are in such high demand. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

States Add Flexibility, Accountability to Charter School Laws

A new report ranking states based on the transparency, accountability and flexibility of their charter school laws puts Minnesota in first place, with hat-tips to Idaho, Indiana and Mississippi for making strides toward giving families and students more choices in public education.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Do Small Schools Work for Latinos?

Former New York CIty Mayor Michael Bloomberg viewed breaking up large failing high schools and creating smaller ones as one potential remedy to closing the achievement gap.

Now his successor, newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio will have the opportunity to reverse the program.

In a commentary piece for Education Week, University of California, Berkeley education professor Bruce Fuller writes that many of the smaller campuses just furthered segregation by race and class. Small schools sometimes have just 200 students.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

‘Rebirth’: New Documentary Explores NOLA’s Charter Schools

Charter school enrollment has soared 80 percent in five years, according to a new report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

EWA Radio

Knowing Their Choices: Assessing Efforts to Inform Parents

More parents are facing educational choices they never had before. Privileged families have always successfully navigated the complexities around schools, but lower-income families haven’t necessarily done so. What new ways are being tried to get information in the hands of a broader array of parents? As organizations step in to  offer guidance, reporters can learn from the processes they use.

Multimedia

Choice and Competition: Improving or Undermining Public Education?

Choice and Competition: Improving or Undermining Public Education?

Is there evidence that empowering all parents to choose among competing schools—district-run, charter, and private—leads to better outcomes for students? Will a critical mass of charter schools in a community be a catalyst for positive change or for school closings that leave students behind? Advocates with different views debate whether competition threatens to destroy public education or is strengthening it one school at a time. Panelists include Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers and Kevin P. Chavous of the American Federation for Children.

EWA Radio

Dissecting the Data on Charter Schools

 Research  around charter schools seems rarely neutral. How do you navigate it with use of data? Two researchers will offer insight on how to cut through the spin and look at the real numbers behind how charter school students are performing and what kinds of students charter schools are serving.

EWA Radio

Should Funding and Facilities Follow the Child?

Charter advocates are pushing for greater access to facilities and more equitable funding. At the same time, some school districts are seeing steep budget cuts, and in some cases facing bankruptcy, in part because of a shift of students and funding to charter schools. We explore a range of perspectives on this complicated issue.

EWA Radio

Should Funding and Facilities Follow the Child?

Charter advocates are pushing for greater access to facilities and more equitable funding. At the same time, some school districts are seeing steep budget cuts, and in some cases facing bankruptcy, in part because of a shift of students and funding to charter schools. We explore a range of perspectives on this complicated issue.

Multimedia

Charter Schools’ Role in Turnaround and Transformation

Charter Schools’ Role in Turnaround and Transformation

How does the charter school model factor into efforts to turn around low-achieving campuses? Why haven’t more charter management organizations signed on for school turnarounds? What questions should reporters be asking when faced with conflicting data on charter school performance?

EWA Radio

Charter Schools’ Role in Turnaround and Transformation

How does the charter school model factor into efforts to turn around low-achieving campuses? Why haven’t more charter management organizations signed on for school turnarounds? What questions should reporters be asking when faced with conflicting data on charter school performance?

Key Coverage

Charter School Performance Study Finds Small Gains

Charter students on the whole end the school year with reading skills eight instructional days ahead of public school kids, and perform at about the same rate as public school students in math, according to the study released Tuesday by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, or CREDO.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What Parents Want to Know About School Choice: Tips for Reporters

At EWA’s 66th National Seminar, held at Stanford last month, we examined the challenge of how reporters can best evaluate charter school research in a session moderated by the Huffington Post’s Joy Resmovits. We asked some of the education reporters attending the seminar to contribute blog posts from the sessions.

Report

National Charter School Study 2013

In the aggregate, charter school students in the 26 states in the new study gained an additional 8 days of learning each year in reading beyond their local peers in traditional public schools. The 2009 study found a loss of 7 days each year in reading among the students in the 16 states. In mathematics, charter school students in 2009 posted 22 fewer days of learning than their traditional public school counterparts; today there exists no significant difference in days of learning.

Organization

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, based in Washington, D.C., is a nonprofit organization that works to improve “the academic and operational quality of public charter schools so that ‘charter’ is recognized as a reliable brand, [clear] the legislative path for increased growth so high-quality charter schools can meet parent demand, [and secure] the sustainability of charter schools by moving toward fiscal equity in public funding, particularly for charter facilities.”

Organization

National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education

The National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education aims “to provide an independent, non-partisan source of analysis and information on privatization in education.” In addition to their own research regarding the charter school movement, the NCSPE also tracks news coverage of charter schools, linking to stories nationwide. The Center is based at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Organization

National Association of Charter School Authorizers

The National Association of Charter School Authorizers, headquartered in Chicago, works to ensure that the groups establishing and operating charter schools have the resources and support to educate children. The “Authorizer Comparison” tool, an interactive map which details state-by-state the statistics for charter schools, is one of the many useful reporting resources available on the association’s site.

Organization

Center for Research on Education Outcomes

The Center for Research on Education Outcomes, originally established at Rochester University in 1999 and now based at Stanford University, looks at education reform “with an emphasis on rigorous program and policy analysis as the means of informing and improving education decision making.” Their 2009 report that found that students at charter schools nationwide overall performed at the same level or worse than those in traditional public schools is one of the landmarks in the discussion of charter schools.

Organization

Center on Reinventing Public Education

Founded in 1993 at the University of Washington, the Center on Reinventing Public Education’s “work is based on two premises: that public schools should be measured against the goal of educating all children well, and that current institutions too often fail to achieve this goal.” Their National Charter School Research Project and District-Charter Collaboration Compacts are valuable resources for journalists covering school choice issues.

Organization

Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice advocates for universal school choice, which it sees as “the most effective and equitable way to improve the quality of K-12 education in America.” According to its mission statement, the organization was “founded upon the ideals and theories of Nobel laureate Milton Friedman and economist Rose D. Friedman.” Among other activities, the organization keeps close tabs nationally on legislation and laws related to private school choice, particularly vouchers and tax credit scholarships. 

 

Organization

Black Alliance for Educational Options

The Black Alliance for Educational Options, based in Washington, D.C. and founded in 2000, “firmly believes parental choice programs, which lead to the creation of quality educational options, not only rescue the children who can take advantage of such opportunities but also create powerful incentives for all schools, public and private, to improve.”

Organization

The Annenberg Institute for School Reform

The Annenberg Institute for School Reform “is a national policy-research and reform support organization that promotes quality education for all children, especially in urban communities. The Institute’s primary lines of inquiry include school transformation, college and career readiness, and extended learning time.” Founded in 1993 and based at Brown University, their research on school turnarounds often examines charters and other choice options

Blog: The Educated Reporter

For Charter Schools, Demand for More Success – And Seats

A new report from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) is likely to provide plenty of ammunition for both supporters and critics of the independently operated, public-funded campuses.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Guest Post: Choice and Competition – Improving or Undermining Public Education?

Guest Post: Choice and Competition – Improving or Undermining Public Education?

We asked some of the journalists attending EWA’s 66th National Seminar, held at Stanford University in May, to contribute posts from the sessions. You can find additional content, including video, at EdMedia Commons.

Key Coverage

UNO Charter Teachers Vote to Unionize

Teachers at one of Chicago’s largest charter-school networks — run by the United Neighborhood Organization — have voted to organize into a union.

Key Coverage

Internal Recording Reveals K12 Inc. Struggled to Comply With Florida Law

The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and StateImpact Florida have obtained internal emails and a recording of a company meeting that provide new insight into allegations that K12 Inc., the nation’s largest online education company, uses teachers in Florida who do not have all of the required state certifications. 

Key Coverage

How Diverse Schools Could Help Fight the Worst Effects of Gentrification

Long-segregated schools in urban American might finally, if uneasily integrate.

Key Coverage

With Vouchers, States Shift Aid for Schools to Families

A growing number of lawmakers across the country are taking steps to redefine public education, shifting the debate from the classroom to the pocketbook

Key Coverage

L.A. charter school aims to toss out students with fake addresses

Officials at Carpenter Community Charter, a top-notch elementary, think 120 children are enrolled fraudulently. They want to make room for students who live in the neighborhood

Key Coverage

D.C. Debates Growth of Charter Schools

It’s the latest sign that the District is on track to become a city where a majority of children are educated not in traditional public schools but in public charters: A California nonprofit group has proposed opening eight D.C. charter schools that would enroll more than 5,000 students by 2019.

Key Coverage

Class Struggle: How Carter Schools Get Students They Want

Students may be asked to submit a 15-page typed research paper, an original short story, or a handwritten essay on the historical figure they would most like to meet. There are interviews. Exams. And pages of questions for parents to answer, including: How do you intend to help this school if we admit your son or daughter?
These aren’t college applications. They’re applications for seats at charter schools.

Key Coverage

Investigation Uncovers Non-Certified Teachers at Muskegon Heights New Charter School

Teachers in Michigan need some kind of certificate or permit to teach. Whether it’s in a public school or a charter school, it doesn’t matter; it’s Michigan law.

Report

Shuttered Public Schools: The Struggle to Bring Old Buildings New Life

Large-scale public school closures have become a fact of life in many American cities, and that trend is not likely to stop now. In a previous study, The Pew Charitable Trusts looked at a wide range of issues involved in the shuttering of buildings, including the impact on students. For this report, we focused on what happens to the buildings themselves, studying the experiences of Philadelphia and 11 other cities that have decommissioned large numbers of schools in recent years.

Key Coverage

Four Texas Charter School Proposals Contain Copied Passages

Four groups vying to open Texas charter schools turned in applications last year that had sections copied from other applications, even claiming parts of another school’s public hearing summary as their own.

Report

Charter School Growth and Replication

CREDO’s study “test[s] the idea that new charters hit their mark early in their operations and do not vary much after that.”

Key Coverage

Classes a la carte: States Test a New School Model

Call it the a la carte school. The model, now in practice or under consideration in states including Louisiana, Michigan, Arizona and Utah, allows students to build a custom curriculum by selecting from hundreds of classes offered by public institutions and private vendors. A teenager in Louisiana, for instance, might study algebra online with a private tutor, business in a local entrepreneur’s living room, literature at a community college and test prep with the national firm Princeton Review – with taxpayers picking up the tab for it all.

Key Coverage

Vouchers Gain Foothold Among State, Local Democrats

But at the state and local levels, Democrats’ views on vouchers are more diverse and nuanced than what is suggested by the party’s national platform, which makes no mention of private school choice, or by the policies of the Obama administration, which has consistently opposed providing public money for private school costs. Some Democrats see vouchers as offering an escape hatch for students who would otherwise be forced to stay in academically struggling public schools.

Key Coverage

Teachers Unions’ Alliance with Democratic Party Frays

Teachers unions have been the Democratic Party’s foot soldiers for more than half a century, providing not only generous financial backing but an army of volunteers in return for support of their entrenched power in the nation’s public schools.
But this relationship is fraying, and the deterioration was evident Monday as Democrats gathered here for their national convention.

Key Coverage

Competition for Students Squeezes Parochial Schools

The nation’s Roman Catholic schools have labored for decades under increasingly adverse economic and demographic conditions, which have undermined their finances and sapped their enrollment. Today, researchers and supporters say those schools face one of their most complex challenges yet: the continued growth of charter schools.
Since they first opened two decades ago, charter schools have emerged as competitors to Catholic schools for reasons connected to school systems’ missions, their academic models, and the populations they serve.

Key Coverage

National PTA Revises Policy on Charter Schools

“The National Parent Teacher Association has revamped its policy to make it clear that it supports giving entities other than local school boards the right to approve charter schools, a new position the group argues will increase its ability to shape policy within the diverse and growing sector of independent public schools.”

Key Coverage

LAUSD Fights Court Order to Give More Space to Charter Schools

Los Angeles school officials are fighting a court order, which took effect Wednesday, that would set aside more classroom seats for charter schools — even if that means traditional schools will lose space for parent centers, computer labs, academic intervention and other services.

Commands