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This Week in Charter School News

Charter School Capital

September 5, 2014


biology textbookWelcome to Charter School Capital’s weekly round-up where we feature charter school news about operations, policy, funding for charter schools, charter school facilities financing, and other trends.
This week marks the end of summer and the beginning of another school year. If recent news is any indicator, it’s going to be a year of exciting success and incredible growth for charter schools.


Charter Schools Top Rankings

Conor Williams, a senior researcher in the Education Policy Program at New America writes on The Daily Beast that “charter schools are some of the biggest winners in this year’s high school rankings list.”
As a former teacher in a Brooklyn charter school, Williams argues charter schools don’t automatically equal success. Instead, it’s the flexibility that charter schools embody that so often creates positive learning environments.
“In other words, charters aren’t uniquely effective just because they’re charters. The structures surrounding them are important. So are each charter’s teachers and administrators. But there’s growing evidence—shown in this year’s rankings—that the charter approach can make an extraordinary difference for students.”

CCSA Releases Fourth Annual Report on California Charter Schools

On the EducationNext blog, California Charter School Association (CCSA) president Jed Wallace highlights some of the most important facts gleaned from the CCSA’s yearly report on charter schools in California.
“Students at charter schools serving low-income populations are far more likely than their traditional public school counterparts to be educated in a school that is among the top five or ten percent of all public schools statewide.

More than half of the students (52 percent) attending charters serving a majority high poverty population attend charter schools that are in the top quartile of all public schools statewide, compared to only 26 percent of similar students attending traditional public schools. To put this into perspective, these 78,000 charter students – enrolled in top quartile charters – would make up the fourth largest school district in California and the 42nd largest district in the nation. And more than a quarter of all English learners, African American, and Latino charter students attend charter schools that are among the most outperforming schools in California. Students at charters serving a majority of historically disadvantaged students are likely to be among the most outperforming schools in the state – three times more likely to be in the top tenth percentile and 5-6 times more likely to be in the 5th percentile.”

The Beginning of Charter Schools

A fascinating op-ed in the New York Times this weekend tells the story of one man who first conceived of the charter school concept and pitched the idea to American legislators.

“…the original vision for charter schools came from Albert Shanker, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. In a 1988 address, Mr. Shanker outlined an idea for a new kind of public school where teachers could experiment with fresh and innovative ways of reaching students. Mr. Shanker estimated that only one-fifth of American students were well served by traditional classrooms. In charter schools, teachers would be given the opportunity to draw upon their expertise to create high-performing educational laboratories from which the traditional public schools could learn.”

Richard D. Kahlenberg and Halley Potter, who authored the editorial, are fellows at the Century Foundation and co-authors of “A Smarter Charter: Finding What Works for Charter Schools and Public Education”.

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