Charter school news & views

1. Enrollment hit the Wisconsin virtual charter cap with 1,000 kids on the waiting list. It’s crazy to limit options for kids. This is clearly a case of protecting the status quo rather than doing the right thing for kids. The cap has got to go!

2. Great to see Duncan sticking to his guns on strong charter laws as prerequisite for Incentive funds. He put Alabama and Mississippi on notice. Guess that leaves out states like WA that don’t even have a charter law.

3a. The LA Times ran a charter series this week. Attempts to be ‘fair & balanced’ lead to this ridiculous logic by defender of status quo Ralph Shaffer:

The 700-plus California charters divert upward of $2 billion a year of scarce state funds from traditional public schools. The Los Angeles Unified School District loses nearly $7,000 in state money for each student who transfers to a charter.

This logic suggests that the money belongs to LAUSD and not the kids. In fact, some (but not all) of the money follows the kids to these schools of choice. CA is now bottom of the barrel in funding per pupil (so it’s closer to $6000 than $7000). LA is blessed with some of the best charter operators in the country (e.g., Green Dot, Bright Star, Alliance, ICEF, PUC, Aspire) that face huge challenge, high costs and extremely low funding. They are not ‘diverting’—they are providing a valuable public service.

3b. The LA Times ran an opinion piece that suggested that charters were creaming. Lisa Snell quickly debunks this notion with national and local data.

4. Great piece by Joe Williams (DFER) calling for strengthened charter bill in TN.

5. Promising movement toward a private school conversion bill in NJ. It could reduce displacement for thousands of families over the coming years while Catholic schools close.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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