Quality Choices

Nationally and in Ohio, we strive to develop policies and practices leading to a lively, accessible marketplace of high-quality education options for every young American (including charter schools, magnet schools, voucher programs, and online courses), as well as families empowered and informed so that they can successfully engage with that marketplace.


Our many choice-related blog posts are listed below.

Fordham’s choice experts:


KIPP Columbus hosts naturalization ceremony

One hundred fifty immigrants became American citizens this past week at an event at KIPP Columbus. The guests (from fifty-three nations) heard a speech from Armando Mora Perez (a KIPP high school student whose mother is waiting to be granted citizenship) and joined together to do the Pledge of Allegiance. You can find a video of the event on KIPP’s Facebook page and photos on their website.

Bruno Manno: How charter schools make their grads successful in college

Bruno Manno, the senior adviser for the Walton Family Foundation K-12 Program, in a recent op-ed praised the ability of some charter schools to help their graduates succeed in college. He explains how a number of charter school networks like KIPP, Uncommon Schools, Chicago’s Noble Network, and Green Dot Schools “are pointing the way and providing crucial evidence that K-12 education can provide a robust foundation for opportunity, upward mobility, and financial stability.”

School choice and community-building

Amy Lueck recently published a piece in the Atlantic in which she celebrates the civic purpose of the traditional American public high school and accuses school choice proponents of...



Martin Luther King III visits KIPP Columbus

KIPP Columbus students had a special guest last week. Martin Luther King III visited the school, read his children’s book (My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), and told stories. Judging by the student quotes in the Dispatch, it looks like he made quite an impact. Television coverage of the visit can be found here.

A big win for students and families: WA Supreme Court ruling

Washington’s Supreme Court ruled that charter public schools are constitutional, upholding their place in Washington’s public education system and ensuring that current and future charter school students will have access to a high-quality education. You can read the Washington State Charter Schools Association’s press statement here. For some background information on the lawsuit, El Centro de la Raza v. Washington State, see the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ release here.

How did MA’s charter schools become the best in the country?

On Wednesday, Education Next released a new podcast episode in which Marty West talks with Cara Stillings Candal, the author of a new book on charter schools in Massachusetts titled, The Fight for...


Editor’s Note: As Ohioans prepare to elect a new governor this November, and as state leaders look to build upon past education successes, we at the Fordham Institute are developing a set of policy proposals that we believe can lead to increased achievement and greater opportunities for Ohio students. This is the fifth in our series, under the umbrella of empowering Ohio’s families. You can access all of the entries in the series to date here.

Proposal: Authorize the ODE to develop and oversee a statewide course-access program. To implement the program, a funding mechanism should be created to pay online course providers and develop accountability tools that verify student learning.

Background: Traditionally, families and students have chosen a single school that delivers the entire educational experience. Although this “bundled” approach works well for many, the courses offered at any one school may not match the needs of every student in attendance, particularly in the upper grades. For instance, national data show that only half of U.S. schools offer calculus and just three in five offer physics. Closer to home, 139 Ohio districts—primarily rural—report that none of their recent graduates participated in Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB)...


Although ardent school choice supporters often argue that having options is an end in itself, the more pragmatic among us recognize that important real-life factors must be considered when describing the health of an area’s school choice landscape. Improvements in information dissemination and simplification of enrollment processes are making a difference in many cities, but a continuing obstacle is transportation. Even the best possible school option might as well not exist if a family cannot reach it. New research from the Urban Institute tries to identify the calculus that families must make in their efforts to secure the best possible fit.

Researchers Patrick Denice and Betheny Gross use data from Denver Public Schools, a portfolio system that includes traditional district schools, independent but district-run innovation schools, and charter schools. All Denver students are guaranteed a spot in a specific school or cluster of schools, but are free to apply to schools of any type for which they are eligible and they do so via a centralized application. School assignments are generally determined by lottery. As befits a system with this much choice and a simplified single application system, more than 80 percent of Denver students in typical transition years...



Are schools asking teachers to be superheros?

Eva Moskowitz recently argued that until we address the fundamental flaws in how we treat our educators, it will be difficult to make headway in improving outcomes for students on a broad scale. Moskowitz, leader of the high achieving Success Academy Charter School network, explains that we’re asking too much of our teachers. Her network and a number of others have moved toward a dramatically different approach to preparing, equipping, and supporting teachers.

Ohio charter school shares about facility challenges

The student population at Albert Einstein Academies of Ohio (AEA), a charter public school serving students in the Cleveland area, has grown significantly since it opened in 2012. This has brought significant challenges. Rebecca Woodson, the director of admissions and recruitment at the school, recently wrote about the financial and environmental hurdles that she and other charters face and explained her school’s process for planning to add a new campus.

NCSRC resource round-up

The National Charter School Resource Center (NCSRC) just released a resource round-up, which highlights some of their top resources from past years and new resources to start the school year strong....


Editor’s Note: As Ohioans prepare to elect a new governor this November, and as state leaders look to build upon past education successes, we at the Fordham Institute are developing a set of policy proposals that we believe can lead to increased achievement and greater opportunities for Ohio students. This is the fourth in our series, under the umbrella of maintaining high expectations for all students. You can access all of the entries in the series to date here.

Proposal: Starting as students enter middle school, Ohio should provide families with clear information about whether their children are on a solid pathway for success in college.

Background: As objective gauges of student achievement, statewide exams have several important purposes, including their use in school accountability systems. But perhaps the most important role of state exams is to offer information to Ohio parents about the academic progress of their own children, thus serving as an important “external audit” that supplements the grades they receive from teachers. To this end, the Ohio Department of Education produces family score reports based on state exams, akin to those that families receive after children take college entrance exams. The state’s score reports already provide...



Ohio’s charter school funding gap

Fordham’s Chad Aldis recently provided testimony to the Ohio Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The meeting, held in Cleveland, examined civil rights as it relates to education funding in Ohio. Some of Aldis’ testimony included data related to charter schools that highlights the significant gap in expenditures between charter and district schools serving similar students.

Why suburban districts need public charter schools too

The Progressive Policy Institute released a policy memo this week titled, “Why Suburban Districts Need Public Charter Schools Too.” The memo includes information about the national charter school landscape, the performance of suburban charter schools, how charter schools can benefit suburban students, and the three factors that hinder the spread of suburban charters.

New Orleans charter is using a new tactic for getting students to college

KIPP has long been focused on getting its students to and through college. This year, the network implemented a new tactic at a KIPP high school in New Orleans where they’ll combine the start of college with high school in a way that makes higher education feel attainable. Bard College, a New York-based...



Lorain charter school works to engage families

Horizon Science Academy, a charter public school in Lorain, hosted their annual Kindergarten Parent Partnership Breakfast last week. Parents got to hear from a State Board of Education member and attend an interactive presentation led by school leaders. Many parents look forward to this annual breakfast, where they can learn about Horizon's education goals and successes and build relationships with staff.

How to get innovative with federal Charter Schools Program dollars

The U.S. Senate recently passed a spending bill that includes $440 million for CSP, an increase of $40 million. CSP funds are indispensable for states looking to grow their sectors. Fordham’s Jessica Poiner argues here that advocates, charter networks, and state leaders would be smart to consider creating new and innovative charter high schools, instead of just replicating the usual suspects.

NAPCS receives grant to establish the Charter School Facilities Center

Last week, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) was awarded a $2.4 million grant over three years to establish the Charter School Facilities Center (CSFC), the first-ever entity solely dedicated to helping charter schools access better and more affordable facilities...



New charter school success story: Menlo Park Academy

Yesterday, the Fordham Institute released the latest profile in their Pathway to Success series. The profile features Menlo Park Academy in Cleveland. Menlo Park, a school designed to uniquely support gifted students, shows how the charter public school model can be used to serve an often overlooked student group. You can read the new profile here—and please do let Madison Yoder know if you have any suggestions for future profiles.

State Superintendent visits Columbus charter school

Yesterday, State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria visited the Columbus Collegiate Academy - Main campus. Several seventh and eighth grade USN scholars had the opportunity to participate in a discussion with the Superintendent and share their experiences as middle school students. You can learn more about the round-table panel on the campus’ Facebook page.

Columbus charter school parents having trouble with busing

Charter school students in Columbus continue to face some pretty big transportation issues. This has been a particular issue for Summit Academy, where some students have literally missed weeks of school at the start of the year due to problems receiving transportation from Columbus City Schools as a result...


At this month’s meeting of the State Board of Education, members debated a draft proposal for a new set of graduation requirements that would give students many paths to graduation. One would use grade point average (GPA) as an indicator of competency. Students would have to earn an average GPA of 2.5 or better for at least two full years of high school math and English, as well as a 2.5 or better across four semesters of any single subject included in the “well-rounded” category that comprises science, social studies, art, and foreign language. The upshot is that a student could earn an Ohio diploma by earning a 2.5 GPA in certain courses (not overall) and playing a sport for four years.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ohio education officials want to include GPA in state graduation requirements. The strategic plan for education released earlier this month called for the state to develop multiple ways for students to demonstrate their competency, and the main goal statement purposely shies away from measures like standardized tests. There is also research that shows a link between college success and a students’ high school GPA. For example,...