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Monday, June 1, 2015

Budget expands independent charter schools to 140 districts

Budget expands independent charter schools to 140 districts:

Budget expands independent charter schools to 140 districts 

The University of Wisconsin System could authorize independent charter schools in Milwaukee and Madison, and other agencies could approve charter schools that compete with districts in many other parts of the state, under a provision tucked into a Joint Finance Committee motion on higher education issues last week.
If it passes in the state budget, it would also allow the Waukesha County executive to approve nondistrict charter schools in Waukesha County, tribal colleges to approve charter schools in local or adjacent counties, and Gateway Technical College to approve and employ staff at technical charter high schools in all of southeastern Wisconsin.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the new provision would allow independent charter schools to operate in 140 school districts.
State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) created the provision, according to lawmakers.
Darling is co-chair of the powerful budget-writing panel, and is also behind a separate provision to put the Milwaukee County executive in charge ofturning some underperforming city schools over to charter-school or voucher-school operators.
The latest provision to expand independent charter schools statewide would limit the financial impact to the school district in which the would-be charter school student lives. The district could count the child for revenue-limit purposes, but the district's aid would be reduced to pay for that child to attend the competing charter school.
Currently, state law limits independent charter schools mostly to the Milwaukee area, with one school in Racine. Students in those charter schools are funded by shaving off state aid from all Wisconsin districts.
The provision on charter-school authorizing appears at the end of an omnibus motion relating to to the UW System, which the finance committee approved Friday on a party-line vote. All Republicans voted in favor; all Democrats were opposed.
Some of the specifics call for:
■ The UW System to create a new authorizer of independent charter schools, with a director appointed within four months of the 2015-'17 state budget being approved. The new Office of Educational Opportunity would evaluate proposals for charter schools to operate in districts with at least 25,000 students — currently that's just Milwaukee and Madison — and monitor operations at the schools. The director may appoint up to two associate directors.
■ The new office may accept private gifts or grants, and the director could determine how that gift or grant would be used to support the office, or charter schools overseen by the office.
■ The Waukesha County executive — currently Sen. Paul Farrow (R-Pewaukee) — could approve charter schools in Waukesha County.
■ Tribal colleges could approve charter schools in their own counties or adjacent counties.
■ The Gateway Technical College District Board could authorize technical high schools focused on STEM or occupational education in the district — Racine, Kenosha and Walworth counties — or any adjacent district, which would include Rock, Jefferson, Waukesha and Milwaukee counties. Gateway Tech College staff could teach at the high schools.
■ Pupils attending the new charter schools would be counted by their district of residence for revenue limit and general school aid purposes. The DPI would then reduce a school district's general aid payment to pay for the children residing there who chose to attend the new charter schools.
This story will be updated throughout the day with reaction from lawmakers and stakeholders.Budget expands independent charter schools to 140 districts:

Charter Schools Have An Awkward Secret: They’re Not Very Good At Innovating | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

Charter Schools Have An Awkward Secret: They’re Not Very Good At Innovating | Fast Company | Business + Innovation:



When Nia Mitchell took over as principal of Algiers Technology Academy, a New Orleans charter high school, she knew she wanted to introduce project-based learning into the curriculum. "That’s the direction that we’re going," she says. But she had her hands full—only 19% of her students were scoring at college-ready levels, or at least 18 out of 36, on the ACT, and only 65% were graduating within four years. Plus, her opportunities to observe project-based learning in action at other schools were few and far between.
"I go and I see, and then I don’t get to see it again for months," she says. Project-based approaches, in which students learn information and skills by tackling complex, interdisciplinary problems, are "relatively new for the state of Louisiana."
That’s when Mitchell met Jonathan Johnson, a teacher turned entrepreneur. He had been prototyping his idea for a new charter school, called Rooted, through an after-school program, and was looking for a chance to test the model during the school day, in the form of a "school within a school." Rooted’s pedagogical foundation: project-based learning.
Jonathan Johnson
"Public education is not creating a way out for kids like we need it to be," says Johnson. "We have to figure out how to serve these kids in different ways."
Johnson cold-emailed the leaders of every charter school management organization in New Orleans; only three responded, Algiers among them. He pitched Mitchell’s boss, and then Mitchell herself. Both saw a natural fit, particularly given their shared emphasis on training students for careers in digital media. They negotiated terms, from funding to uniforms, and became partners, with Algiers playing host to Johnson's experimentation in the same way that large companies host innovation labs.
"Technology is [creating] the high-wage, high-demand jobs that will be in Louisiana for the next 10 to 15 years," Mitchell says. "We want to make sure our students are Charter Schools Have An Awkward Secret: They’re Not Very Good At Innovating | Fast Company | Business + Innovation:

Louisiana school voucher case in U.S. appeals court: Is U.S. government entitled to reports? | News | The Advocate — Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Louisiana school voucher case in U.S. appeals court: Is U.S. government entitled to reports? | News | The Advocate — Baton Rouge, Louisiana:

Louisiana school voucher case in U.S. appeals court: Is U.S. government entitled to reports?

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal appeals court in New Orleans was set to hear arguments Monday on whether the state must present reports about its school voucher program to the U.S. government.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would hear an appeal by pro-voucher groups who say the Justice Department is trying to stifle the program, which provides tuition to some low- and moderate-income families whose children otherwise would go to low-performing public schools.
The Legislature approved the voucher program, supported by Gov. Bobby Jindal, in 2012.
The state has said compiling the reports for federal officials won’t hurt the program. But some voucher supporters, represented by the conservative Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, are pressing on with the appeal.
In April 2014, a federal judge ruled that the state could be required to provide information about the program in accordance with a 1975 court order and a 1985 consent decree in a desegregation case. That case found that Louisiana had impeded integration and violated federal law by providing books, equipment and transportation to segregated private schools.
The federal government can get information including lists of voucher applicants, information on schools in the voucher program, and enrollment and racial breakdowns on public and private schools, U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle ruled.
“There is currently no order affecting the State’s implementation of the voucher program in any manner,” U.S. Justice Department attorneys wrote in their brief. “The sole issue the district court decided ... was whether the United States may obtain information from the State of Louisiana relating to the voucher program in a timely manner.”
Voucher families and a pro-voucher group called the Louisiana Black Alliance for Educational Options say Judge Lemelle made significant changes to the earlier orders, extending them to a “brand-new remedial education program” without any allegation that it is discriminatory or helps segregated schools.
Lemelle’s ruling “places a cloud of perpetual uncertainty over the vital educational opportunities the program provides, it marks a major affront to the principles of federalism, and it represents an improper exercise of federal court jurisdiction,” their attorneys wrote.
Arguments about the program had largely centered on the funding and effectiveness of voucher schools, and whether the program bled away money needed by public schools. Then, in August 2013, the Justice Department filed a motion in the case of Brumfield v. Dodd, the desegregation lawsuit that resulted in the 1975 desegregation order.
Justice officials first sought an order to block future vouchers in districts under desegregation orders unless the state first got federal court permission, a move voucher supporters called an attack by the administration of President Barack Obama on vouchers. Justice Department attorneys have since backed away from seeking an injunction but have continued to seek information.Louisiana school voucher case in U.S. appeals court: Is U.S. government entitled to reports? | News | The Advocate — Baton Rouge, Louisiana:

Post-Katrina School Reforms Leave Blacks Disenfranchised: Report | WUIS 91.9

Post-Katrina School Reforms Leave Blacks Disenfranchised: Report | WUIS 91.9:

Post-Katrina School Reforms Leave Blacks Disenfranchised: Report

The status of the New Orleans school system post-Hurricane Katrina is a personal issue for University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign professor Adrienne Dixson.
Now an academic focusing on issues of urban education and school reform, Dixson taught in the New Orleans public schools from 1991 to 1995, and has family in the region.
In a paper co-written with scholars from Georgia State University in Atlanta, she says, “We talked about the ways that public education has changed in a way that we argue displaces and disenfranchises people of color in particular.’’
Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans a decade ago. A year later, she notes, 7,000 teachers and administrators were fired — “4,000 of whom were African-American. So that radically changed the racial demographics of the teaching force, [which] prior to Katrina, had been predominantly African-American.”
After teachers were fired, a shift to charter schools occurred under the direction of Recovery School District Superintendent Paul Vallas, the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools.
Each charter school has a separate school board. With that shift to charter schools and the recruitment of new teachers, the teaching staff moved from black majority to white majority. “That in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but most of those who have taken over control of schools are transplants,” Dixson says.
According to a UIUC news release on the article, after Katrina, the state of Louisiana took over 102 of the Orleans Parish School Board’s 117 schools that were deemed worst performers, and created the Recovery School District (RSD). According to the article written by Dixson and her co-authors: “By the beginning of the 2012-2013 academic year, 72 of 90 public schools in New Orleans were operating as charter schools (most with operators based out of state) and 84 percent of students were attending them.
schoolbus and rural setting in disrepair
New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward post-Hurricane Katrina
“At the conclusion of the school year 2013-2014, all of the 107 schools that the RSD took over have either been closed or chartered. The [Orleans Parish School Board], the only elected school board in the city, controls just 6 traditional schools and is the authorizer of 10 charter schools. In school year 2004-2005, the OPSB controlled 128 schools.”

“We argue that this shift in control and governance … radically alters the democratic process for governing schools,’’ she says.
According to the article, which was published in the journal Qualitative Inquiry, “In 2008, Orleans Parish School Board became majority white, a shift that had not occurred in over 20 years.”
Students, parents, former teachers and others were interviewed by Dixson’s team. One alumnus of John McDonough High School was quoted as saying: “‘What we