Charters & Choice

Citizens Leadership Academy (CLA) is preparing Cleveland middle schoolers for success in high school, college, and life—and not just academically. CLA, whose population is 79 percent economically disadvantaged and made up almost entirely of students of color, is second among all public schools in the city on student growth. The school’s eighth graders reach and surpass proficiency at a rate that is more than three times that of their peers across the city. Reading and math proficiency rates at CLA are more than double those of Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s.

No matter how you slice the data, CLA is providing academic preparation that would likely be unavailable to them if the schools—and its broader high-performing charter network (Breakthrough Schools)—did not exist. And yet its academic prowess is just the tip of the iceberg.

The school’s model—as captured in its name, Citizens Leadership Academy—prioritizes and cultivates broader attributes and mindsets necessary for long-term success. As you’ll read in this profile about one student, Keith Lazare Jr., CLA asks students to consider what it means to be active, engaged citizens and community members. Students are asked to grapple not...

A report released today outlines the facilities challenges facing Ohio’s public charter schools. The report, “An Analysis of the Charter School Facility Landscape in Ohio,” found that on average, Ohio charter schools spend $785 per pupil  from their foundation funding on facilities—a cost not typically faced by traditional public schools. The report also finds that few Ohio charters are able to locate in unused or underutilized district facilities.

“This study is eye opening,” said Chad L. Aldis, Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy. “It provides Ohio policy makers with concrete data, for the first time ever, regarding how extensive the facility challenges are for Ohio’s 370 public charter schools.”

The report is based on a 2015 survey of Ohio charter school principals (representing 81 percent of brick-and-mortar charters in the state). The study was sponsored by the National Charter School Resource Center of the U.S. Department of Education, and conducted by the Colorado League of Charter Schools with the assistance of the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

“Charter schools face an uphill battle when it comes to securing a quality facility. Facility expenses of almost $800 per...

“Winners never quit and quitters never win.” There's a lot of truth in that cliché, but it doesn't seem to apply to education. When it comes to chronically low-performing schools, in many cases, the better – and more courageous – course is to “quit” and close a school that is simply beyond repair.

In recent years, attempts to turn around failing schools are most closely linked to the Obama Administration’s supercharged School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. Between 2010 and 2015, the federal government spent $7 billion in efforts to turnaround low-performing schools. In exchange for these funds, grantee schools pledged to implement prescribed interventions, such as replacing personnel or changing instructional practices.

The returns: Not much—or perhaps not clear—according to a massive study by Mathematica and the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The study examined schools in the 2010 SIG cohort and tracked pupil outcomes through three years of implementation. Using data from twenty-two states, their analysis found that SIG had no significant impact on students’ state math or reading test scores. Nor did they find any evidence that SIG increased pupils’ likelihood of high school graduation or college enrollment. Further, the analysts didn’t even uncover...

Ohio charter schools have long reported struggling in their efforts to secure school facilities. A soon-to-be released report, “An Analysis of the Charter School Facility Landscape in Ohio,” from the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the National Charter School Resource Center, the Charter School Facilities Initiative, managed by the Colorado League of Charter Schools, and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools surveys school principals to get the most detailed look to date of Ohio charter school facilities. The survey, which includes data from 81 percent of Ohio's brick and mortar charter schools, examines multiple aspects of charter facilities including the size, uses, and cost per student of each.

Please join Fordham and the Callender Group to hear the report’s authors share the data and Ohio charter schools/school networks talk about what the report means on-the-ground.

Thursday, February 2, 2016
8:30 - 10:00 am

Chase Tower - Sixth floor conference room B
100 East Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215

PRESENTERS:
Kevin Hesla, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and report co-author
Jessica M. Johnson, Esq., Colorado League of Charter Schools and report co-author

PANELISTS:
Tiffany Adamski,...

Parents make choices about their child’s schooling based on a variety of factors: location, safety, convenience, academics, extracurriculars, support services, and more. Many families choose their school by moving to the neighborhood of their preference, thus exercising “choice” when making homeownership decisions. It’s important to recognize that not all families have the same luxury. In fact, many don’t. For the most part, parents living in poverty can’t just up and move themselves to a neighborhood with higher-performing, better-programmed, safer schools. Yet their children deserve high-quality educational opportunities, too, in schools that work for them based on their unique learning styles, interests, and needs.

If we believe that parents of all income levels and backgrounds deserve the same choices we exercise for ourselves and our own children, then Ohio’s high-performing charter schools deserve our unwavering support. The 21,000+ events held across the nation last week for National School Choice Week demonstrate the pressing need—and support for—quality school options. Columbus Collegiate Academy (Dana Avenue campus), one of the city’s highest-performing middle schools, helps its eighth graders achieve math and science proficiency at a rate that’s more than double what the district achieves. Meanwhile, its eighth-grade reading proficiency rate is thirty-seven...

The American Federation for Children (AFC) recently released its third annual poll on school choice. The national poll surveyed just over 1,000 likely November 2018 voters early this January via phone calls.

To determine general support and opposition, AFC posed the following question: “Generally speaking, would you say you favor or oppose the concept of school choice? School choice gives parents the right to use the tax dollars associated with their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school which better serves their needs.” By and large, the findings indicate broad support for school choice—68 percent of those surveyed support school choice compared to 28 percent who oppose it. These numbers are similar to AFC results from previous years: 69 and 70 percent of likely voters who expressed support for school choice in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

In addition to overall percentages, AFC broke out the survey numbers by specific demographic groups. Seventy-five percent of Latinos and 72 percent of African Americans support school choice compared to 65 percent of Whites. In terms of political affiliation, 84 percent of Republicans support school choice (up slightly from 80 percent in 2016), compared to 55 percent of...

A New Federal Push On Private School Choice? Three Options To Consider

A New Federal Push on Private School Choice? Three Options to Consider

One of the few education promises President-elect Trump made on the campaign trail was to launch a major new federal initiative on school choice. By nominating choice advocate Betsy DeVos to be his secretary of education, he indicated that he was serious about it. Yet the odds of getting a major program through Congress are daunting, what with conservative Republicans committed to limiting the federal role in education and cutting spending, with Democrats strongly tied to the teachers unions—and with the main federal K–12 programs only recently reauthorized.

As the 115th Congress begins, and the new Administration prepares to take office, what options might policymakers consider as they design a new initiative on private school choice? The Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Hoover Institution hosted Representative Luke Messer, one of Congress’s leading advocates for parental choice, and a panel of policy experts on January 18th to discuss the road ahead. Panelists discussed the pros and cons of three distinct approaches to promoting choice: a new competitive grant program; allowing Title I and/or IDEA funds to follow children to their schools of choice, including private schools; and adapting the tax code to stimulate additional support for state-created private-school scholarship programs.

Continue the conversation online with @educationgadfly and @HooverInst at #3Options4Choice.

KEYNOTE

 Representative Luke Messer
 Congressman
 Indiana's 6th Congressional District
  @RepLukeMesser

INTRODUCTION

 Mike Franc
 Director of DC Programs
 The Hoover Institution
  @HooverInst

PANELISTS

 Joanne Weiss
 President
 Weiss Associates
  @JoanneSWeiss
 Andy Smarick
 Resident Fellow
 The American Enterprise Institute
  @smarick
 Virginia Gentles
 Senior Policy Advisor
 The American Federation for Children
  @ginnygentles
 McKenzie Snow
 Policy Analyst
 Foundation for Excellence in Education
  @mcksnow

MODERATOR

 Michael Petrilli
 President
 The Thomas B. Fordham Institute
  @MichaelPetrilli

RESOURCES

Peter Cunningham recently called district-charter collaboration the “great unfilled promise” of school choice. He explains the possibilities by pointing to a host of cities that are already benefiting from collaboration: In New York City, districts and charters are partnering to improve parent engagement. In Rhode Island, charters are sharing with district schools their wealth of knowledge on how to personalize learning effectively. Boston has district, charter, and Catholic schools working together on issues like transportation and professional development and has successfully lowered costs for each sector. The SKY Partnership in Houston is expanding choice and opportunities for students. The common enrollment system in New Orleans has solved a few long-standing problems for parents (like issues with transparency), and partnerships in Denver have set the stage for even more innovation. Though the type and extent of collaboration differs in each of these places, the bottom line is the same: Kids benefit.

Here in the Buckeye State, there are thousands of kids in need of those benefits. Our most recent analysis of state report card data shows that within Ohio’s large urban districts (commonly known as “the Big Eight”), proficiency rates were far below...

Ohio’s charter school reform discussions have mostly focused on sponsors—the entities responsible for providing charter school oversight. Overlooked are the important changes in Ohio’s charter reform law (House Bill 2) around operators. Operators (aka management companies) are often the entities responsible for running the day-to-day functions of charter schools; some of the responsibilities they oversee include selecting curriculum, hiring and firing school leaders and teachers, managing facilities, providing special education services, and more. (To get a sense of the extent of operator responsibilities, read through one of their contracts.)

Extra sunshine on operators has been especially needed in a climate like Ohio’s, where operators historically have wielded significant political influence and power not only with elected officials but even over governing boards. For instance, one utterly backwards provision pre-HB 2 allowed operators to essentially fire a charter’s governing board (with sponsor approval) instead of the other way around—what NACSA President Greg Richmond referred to as the “most breathtaking abuse in the nation” in charter school policy.  

HB 2 installed much-needed changes on this front, barring the most egregious abuses of power and greatly increasing operator transparency. The legislation required that contracts between charter...

One in seven adults’ ages 18-24 in Ohio lacks a high school diploma and faces bleak prospects of prospering in our economy. Dropouts earn $10,000 less each year than the average high school graduate according to the U.S. Census Bureau, are almost twice as likely to be unemployed, and typically earn an average annual income of $20,241 which hovers just above the poverty line for a family of three in Ohio. Dropouts also drag down the Ohio economy; over the course of their life, they consume an estimated $292,000 in public aid beyond what they pay in taxes.

To mitigate the number and cost of dropouts, Ohio has permitted the creation of ninety-four dropout prevention and recovery schools. Collectively, these schools enrolled sixteen thousand students in the 2015-16 year. They serve at-risk and re-enrolling students—pupils who previously dropped out but are now re-entering the education system—with the aim of graduating students who might otherwise slip through the cracks.

To hold these schools accountable for successfully educating at-risk students, Ohio has created an alternative report card. This report card assigns an overall rating of “Exceeds,” “Meets,” or “Does Not Meet” standards based on the...

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