Weekly Charter News Roundup: Jan. 25 – Feb. 10

Georgia’s ranking for state charter laws has improved. According to the National Alliance of Charter Schools’ 2016 ranking of state charter laws, Georgia moved up five spots from 23 to 18 to because state lawmakers approved regulations to strengthen authorizer accountability, charter school autonomy and the processes for monitoring charter schools.

  • Georgia added 11 new charter schools this year. In addition, charter schools throughout the state enrolled an additional 7,000 students.
  • The first state chartered school in Fayette County will open its doors for the 2016-2017 school year. Liberty Tech will be housed in the former Brooks Elementary School.

  • Parents at Peachtree Charter Middle School have voted to renew the school’s charter.

  • Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent, Meria Carstarphen, has laid out more detailed plans for turning around a number of the city’s struggling schools. The plans include closing one school, merging another four and hiring charter school groups to manage five others.

  • Members of a panel that spoke during the 2016 Georgia Charter Schools Conference say, if approved by state lawmakers next year, the recent recommendations from the Education Reform Commission would benefit charter and traditional schools in the state. 

  • The Heartland Institute says recommendations made by the Education Reform Commission could lead to more equitable funding for charter schools if approved by state lawmakers next year.

  • Entertainer and actor Ludacris spoke during a rally held at the Georgia Capitol during National School Choice Week.

  • Benita Dodd with the Georgia Public Policy Foundation wrote an opinion piece for the Columbia County News-Times during National School Choice Week. She says Georgia’s education system has seen improvements in recent years due to school choice, but there’s still room for improvement.

  • The governing board for Elite Scholars Academy, one of the best performing schools in Clayton County, has announced it will not seek a charter renewal. Clayton County officials plan to operate Elite Scholars Academy as a traditional school.

  • The Alliance Academy for Innovation of Cumming-Forsyth County Inc. has switched from a charter school to a traditional school. The school system made the change after becoming an IE2 district.

  • The Washington D.C. based Brookings Institution gave the DeKalb County School System a D for educational choice and competition in its annual Education Choice and Competition index.

  • The governing board for Macon Charter Academy has approved a contract with Prestige Charter School Solutions.

Pre-K and Charter Schools: How Georgia Creates Barriers to Collaboration

In a new report from The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Georgia is one of twelve states ranked as “not hospitable” to the creation of state-funded Pre-K programs in charter schools.
 
It notes that Georgia’s charter law does not mention pre-K, and the pre-K law does not mention charter schools. DECAL, which administers the pre-K program, interprets the law to mean that charter schools can apply for state pre-K funding. The charter schools office at the Georgia Department of Education, however, interprets the law to mean that charters cannot be approved to offer pre-K. As a result, charters can offer affiliated programs but cannot serve preschoolers directly. At least nine charter schools in Georgia offer pre-K in this way

[Download the full reportforeword and executive summary, and the base report.]

In Pre-K and Charter Schools: Where State Policies Create Barriers to Collaboration, authors Sara Mead and Ashley LiBetti Mitchel examine thirty-six jurisdictions that have both charter schools and state-funded pre-K programs to determine where charters can provide state-funded pre-K. Among the findings:
  • Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia have both state-funded pre-K and charter laws. Of those, thirty-two have at least one charter school serving preschoolers.
  • Charter schools in all but four states face at least one significant barrier to offering state pre-K. Nine have statutory or policy barriers that preclude charter schools from offering state-funded pre-K; twenty-three other states technically permit charters to offer state-funded pre-K but have created practical barriers that significantly limit their ability to do so in practice.

The most common practical barriers include low funding levels, small pre-K programs, barriers to kindergarten enrollment, and local district monopolies on pre-K funds.

Recommendations for state policymakers:

  • Ensure that the state’s definition of a “charter school” includes pre-K in the activities or grade levels that charters are permitted to offer.
  • Establish clear policies that allow charter schools operating publicly funded pre-K to enroll the children served by those programs directly into their kindergarten classes.
  • Make certain that charter schools have equal access to state pre-K funds.

Recommendations for federal policymakers:

  • Include pre-K in the federal definition of “charter school.”
  • Ensure that federal preschool programs, including Head Start, provide charters equitable access to funding.

State Profiles

The views and opinions expressed on CharterConfidential are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency.  

 

Campbell Brown’s Website, The Seventy Four: A New Take on Public Education Reform

By GCSA

A new blog and news site from education activist and former TV news anchor Campbell Brown is making waves in education reform circles. It’s called The Seventy Four, referring to the 74 million school age children in America who Brown believes are being shortchanged by our public school system.

Advance PR for the blog states:

The Seventy Four is a non-profit, non-partisan news site covering education in America. Our public education system is in crisis. In the United States, less than half of our students can read or do math at grade-level, yet the education debate is dominated by misinformation and political spin. Our mission is to lead an honest, fact-based conversation about how to give America’s 74 million children under the age of 18 the education they deserve.”

Brown is something of an education lightning rod, largely because of her staunch opposition to education employee unions. The announcement of her website and blog generated intense speculation about its funders, and Inside Philanthropy has done a story on the funders and contributors.

The Seventy Four‘s team boasts some serious journalistic chops. The site’s editorial director is Steven Snyder, a former assistant managing editor at Time magazine. Contributors include Cynthia Tucker, a former Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; researcher Conor Williams of the New America Foundation’s Early Education Initiative; and Michelle Bernard, president and CEO of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics, and Public Policy.  

We’ll be watching for the mid-July launch of The Seventy Four with interest.

The views and opinions expressed on CharterConfidential are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency.