Charters & Choice

Live from the 2017 National Charter Schools Conference

On this week's podcast, special guests Dr. Howard Fuller, titan of the charter movement, and Nina Rees, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, join Mike Petrilli and Alyssa Schwenk to discuss overregulation in the charter schools sector. During the Research Minute, Susan Aud Pendergrass, Vice President of Research and Evaluation at NAPCS, joins Amber Northern and Mike to talk about Fordham’s recent study, Three Signs That a Proposed Charter School Is at Risk of Failing.

Amber’s Research Minute

Anna Nicotera and David Stuit, “Three Signs That a Proposed Charter School Is at Risk of Failing,” Thomas B. Fordham Institute (April 2017).

Greg R. Lawson

NOTE: The Thomas B. Fordham Institute occasionally publishes guest commentaries on its blogs. The views expressed by guest authors do not necessarily reflect those of Fordham.

The Buckeye Institute in Ohio recently released Education Savings Accounts: Expanding Education Options for Ohio, a report co-authored with the Heritage Foundation’s school choice expert Lindsey Burke, which explains how Education Savings Accounts (ESA) will build upon Ohio’s already successful voucher and scholarship programs. Adopting a robust ESA program would propel Ohio’s outdated public education system into the 21st century, and make it nimble enough to navigate the needs of today’s students.

ESAs take the next step toward putting parents in charge of their child’s education. In envisioning education in the 21st century, parents—not bureaucrats—are primarily responsible for meeting the educational needs of students. And ESAs will help Ohio realize that vision.

For more than a century, an “Industrial Age” model of mass learning and limited flexibility has dominated the public education paradigm. This model too often ignores the individual needs, differences, skills, and interests of the children it purports to instruct. By embracing a more flexible and personalized approach to learning, ESAs will help Ohio transition into the new “Information Age”—empowering...

In case you missed it, Fordham released a new report last week: a first-of-its-kind analysis of the districts and the students utilizing open enrollment across district boundaries in the Buckeye State, focusing on which districts did and did not open their borders and on the academic outcomes of students who take advantage of the opportunity.

Interest in the findings was widespread and a sample of the local, state and national media coverage includes:

  • The Columbus Dispatch – which has previously covered local school residency and attendance issues
  • The blog of The 74 Million – including an interview with Fordham Ohio’s research guru Aaron Churchill
  • The blog of Chalkbeat – including a national perspective on the issue
  • Statehouse news site Gongwer Ohio – who covered the report and the release event held in Columbus

If you weren’t able to join us for that release event and the important panel discussion included therein – which included the perspective of urban and suburban district leaders as well as a vital parent perspective – please visit Fordham’s YouTube channel or click on the image below to see the full video.

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Bernie Moreno

NOTES: The Thomas B. Fordham Institute occasionally publishes guest commentaries on its blogs. The views expressed by guest authors do not necessarily reflect those of Fordham.

This commentary was originally published in Crain’s Cleveland Business.

As a business owner in Cleveland as well as other cities, I spend a lot of time thinking about return on investment (ROI).

It's a financial term that when used in public education can make some people feel uncomfortable. Students and teachers are not units or widgets, and running schools is not a business — or so the thinking goes. Many would argue that the educational process of expanding a child's mind and equipping them for a lifelong love of learning simply can't be reduced to numbers.

I agree that teaching is an art form, that children are unique, and that K-12 public education — as a public good — cannot and should not be reduced to balance sheets alone. Yet we see the results of a poor education very much in terms of numbers.

These are cold, hard facts that we must contend with and eventually pay for. Low percentages of students who can't read or do math at grade level lead...

In April, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos toured the Van Wert school district in rural northwestern Ohio along with American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. In such sparsely populated communities, private and charter schools are usually scarce. But does that mean school choice does not exist? Absolutely not: In a Cleveland Plain Dealer op-ed published just before her visit, Secretary DeVos noted that “parents or guardians of nearly 20 percent of students who live within Van Wert’s district lines choose to send their children to a nearby district.”

She was of course referring to interdistrict open enrollment, a public school choice policy that allows students to attend school outside of their “home district” without having to pay tuition. While open enrollment often flies under the radar, it’s among the oldest and most widespread forms of school choice in America. Minnesota passed the nation’s first open enrollment law in 1988, and several other states, including Ohio, enacted similar laws shortly thereafter. Forty-four states now allow some form of open enrollment: Some states require their districts to participate in open enrollment (it’s mandatory), while others leave that decision to local districts.[1]

Like any choice initiative,...

The teacher diversity edition

On this week's podcast, special guest Dr. Constance Lindsay, a research associate at the Urban Institute, joins Mike Petrilli and Chester Finn to discuss the positive effects of teachers of color on students of color. During the Research Minute, Amber Northern examines whether school choice increases parental demand for information about school quality.

Amber’s Research Minute

Michael F. Lovenheim and Patrick Walsh, “Does Choice Increase Information? Evidence from Online School Search Behavior,” NBER (May 2017).

Posted just six hours after the close of Mother’s Day, this eerily titled article, “Some school districts tail parents to check where family actually lives,” discussed the lengths to which some parents go to enroll their child in a “desirable school district”—and the lengths to which some districts go to keep such “outsiders” at bay.  Nothing says we cherish or appreciate moms like this description of a local residency investigation that resulted in a child being forcibly withdrawn from a local school. As the Columbus Dispatch reported:

“In April, lots of Bexley residents chimed in over social media when an outraged mother posted that the Bexley school district hired a private investigator to tail her for months to see if she and her young son actually live at her mother’s house. She said she works multiple jobs and isn’t at home much. In the Facebook post that has since been removed, she said her son had been kicked out of school with only five weeks left in the year...”

In response, the district’s attorney, Gregory Scott defended the district’s actions saying:

“There’s nothing nefarious about that [legally following someone in public].”

“Districts that choose to close...

Inequity in the City—the work of veteran authors of charter-school funding studies, including Inequity’s Next Frontier, Inequity Persists, and Inequity Expandsdiffers slightly from its predecessors because of its metropolitan focus. Its core finding is familiar, however: public charter schools face serious and persistent funding gaps compared to their district counterparts. (Will we ever get to read “Inequity Shrinks” or “Inequity Disappears”? One can dream.)

The analysts focused on 15 cities: Atlanta, Boston, Camden, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Memphis, New Orleans, New York City, Oakland, San Antonio, Tulsa, and Washington, D.C. These locales were selected for their high concentration of charters or their “potential for growth.” Data come from fiscal year 2014.

They examined revenue differences in these places between the charter and district schools sectors, including all sources of funding—local, state, federal, and nonpublic. In eight of the cities, the authors conducted longitudinal analyses. They also tested to see whether differences in the enrollment rates of students with special learning needs (defined broadly to include students who are low-income, English language learners, or with disabilities) might explain funding differences.

There are several notable findings:

  • Urban charter schools continue to receive significantly less money than
  • ...

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is releasing a first-of-its-kind statewide analysis of interdistrict open enrollment. Using anonymous student-level data, Ohio State University professor Stéphane Lavertu and Deven Carlson of the University of Oklahoma examined the background characteristics of open enrollees along with their academic outcomes as gauged by state exams and graduation rates.

We invite you to an important discussion of this widespread but often-overlooked means of school choice in the Buckeye State. The researchers will discuss their findings and a panel of education experts will discuss the implications of the report. The discussion will focus on the benefits and challenges of the policy; how it impacts the families, students, and districts involved; and how Ohio policy makers might strengthen open enrollment policies in the future.

Tuesday June 6, 2017

8:30 - 9:45 am

Chase Tower
100 East Broad Street
Sixth Floor - Conference Room B
Columbus, OH 43215

Seating is limited so please register today.

 

PRESENTER

Deven Carlson
University of Oklahoma
Report co-author

 

PANELISTS

Tina Thomas-Manning
Superintendent
Reynoldsburg City Schools

 

...

Charters and vouchers: Two peas in a pod

On this week's podcast, Mike Petrilli, Jason Crye, and Alyssa Schwenk discuss how to win charter supporters over to the cause of school vouchers. During the Research Minute, David Griffith examines how No Child Left Behind influenced student behavior.

Amber’s Research Minute

John B. Holbein and Helen F. Ladd, “Accountability pressure: Regression discontinuity estimates of how No Child Left Behind influenced student behavior,” Economics of Education Review (March 2017).

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