School Voucher Programs

Nation’s only federally funded voucher program has negative effect on student achievement, study finds, By Emma Brown and Mandy McLaren, April 27, 2017, Washington Post: “Students in the nation’s only federally funded school voucher initiative performed worse on standardized tests within a year after entering D.C. private schools than peers who did not participate, according to a new federal analysis that comes as President Trump is seeking to pour billions of dollars into expanding the private school scholarships nationwide.  The study, released Thursday by the Education Department’s research division, follows several other recent studies of state-funded vouchers in Louisiana, Indiana and Ohio that suggested negative effects on student achievement…”

School Voucher Programs – Wisconsin

Wisconsin voucher programs march toward 30,000 student threshold, By Erin Richards, December 8, 2014, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The total number of students receiving private-school tuition vouchers in Wisconsin is about to cross the 30,000 threshold. The three voucher programs in Milwaukee, Racine and statewide enroll 29,683 students, according to results of the official state headcount in September. That makes Wisconsin a leading state when it comes to the number of students attending private, mostly religious schools with the help of taxpayer-funded tuition subsidies…”

NPR Report on Philadelphia Schools

  • Kids pay the price in fight over fixing Philadelphia schools, By Claudio Sanchez, November 21, 2013, National Public Radio: “Sharron Snyder and Othella Stanback, both seniors at Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin High, will be the first in their families to graduate from high school. This, their final year, was supposed to be memorable. Instead, these teenagers say they feel cheated. ‘We’re fed up with the budget cuts and everything. Like, this year, my school is like really overcrowded. We don’t even have lockers because it’s, like, too many students,’ Sharron says. Franklin High doubled in size because it absorbed hundreds of kids from two high schools the district could not afford to keep open this fall…”
  • Unrelenting poverty leads to ‘desperation’ in Philly schools, By Eric Westervelt, November 21, 2013, National Public Radio: “Philadelphia’s Center City area sparkles with new restaurants, jobs and money. After declining for half a century, the city’s population grew from 2006 to 2012. But for people living in concentrated poverty in large swaths of North and West Philadelphia, the Great Recession only made life harder. The overall poverty rate in the city dipped slightly in 2012 to 28 percent. But the number of Philadelphians needing food stamps rose last year, and the child poverty rate in the city still hovers near 40 percent. At Julia de Burgos Elementary School in North Philly, for example, almost every child lives at or below the federal poverty line…”
  • Charter schools in Philadelphia: Educating without a blueprint, By Eric Westervelt, November 22, 2013, National Public Radio: “Shayna Terrell is in a good mood: It’s report card night at the Simon Gratz Mastery Charter high school in North Philadelphia, and parents are showing up in good numbers. Terrell, Mastery’s outreach coordinator, welcomes parents. Her goal on this night is to get 40 percent of Gratz parents to come to the school, meet teachers face to face, and get their child’s report card. It’s part of the effort to make Gratz a positive hub for a community long challenged by high rates of poverty and crime…”

Growing Number of Charter Schools

  • Charter schools a growing trend, By Gabrielle Russon, August 25, 2013, Herald Tribune: “With charter school enrollment booming across Florida, nine groups are seeking to capitalize on the trend by opening new charters in Southwest Florida. Six groups in Sarasota County and three in Manatee County have applied to start charter schools in the 2014-15 year. The statewide deadline to submit applications for next school year passed earlier this month.Throughout Florida, the number of charter schools is on the rise, jumping from 579 in 2012-13 to an estimated 625 this year, or by 8 percent, according to the state’s Department of Education…”
  •  New crop of charter schools opens doors, By Jennifer Smith Richards, August 26, 2013, The Columbus Dispatch: “About a third of the new charter schools set to open this fall in Ohio are opening in Columbus. There are 17 new schools approved to open here, including schools with single-gender classes, an online/in-person hybrid and another that teaches courses in construction. Statewide, 52 charters are allowed to open. It’s the largest number of new schools in the past three years, according to the Ohio Department of Education. For the start of the 2011 and 2012 school years, 35 and 33 new schools opened, respectively.Some of the new charters in central Ohio target neighborhoods without close-by schools. Some want to serve a particular type of student — inner city and poor, for example. And at least one is opening anew after just having been shut down for poor performance…”

Charter Schools – Washington, DC

D.C. debates growth of charter schools, By Emma Brown, February 10, 2013, Washington Post: “It’s the latest sign that the District is on track to become a city where a majority of children are educated not in traditional public schools but in public charters: A California nonprofit group has proposed opening eight D.C. charter schools that would enroll more than 5,000 students by 2019. The proposal has stirred excitement among those who believe that Rocketship Education, which combines online learning and face-to-face instruction, can radically raise student achievement in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods…”

Charter Schools and Impoverished Students – Atlanta, GA

Data show relatively fewer students in poverty served by charter schools, By Ty Tagami, November 3, 2012, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Charter schools educate a smaller proportion of metro Atlanta’s impoverished students than the public school systems in which those charters are located, a new analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows. It’s widely accepted among education researchers that academic outcomes are linked to demographics: Schools with more students from low-income households tend to perform poorly compared to schools with more well-off students. One solution, some argue, is charter schools — independent public schools that operate free of some state restrictions as long as they meet performance goals. Proponents tout them as a superior alternative to traditional public schools, especially for children from low-income families stuck in failing schools and unable to afford private school tuition…”

Charter Schools

  • How some states rein in charter school abuses, By Kathleen McGrory and Scott Hiaasen, December 10, 2011, Miami Herald: “Florida’s charter school law, which makes it easy to open charter schools and difficult to monitor them, has spurred a multimillion dollar industry and a school boom – all while leading to chronic governance problems and a higher-than-average rate of school failure. Nationally, about 12 percent of all charter schools that have opened in the past two decades have shut down, according to the National Resource Center on Charter School Finance & Governance. In Florida, the failure rate is double, state records show…”
  • Florida charter schools: big money, little oversight, By Scott Hiaasen and Kathleen McGrory, December 10, 2011, Miami Herald: “Preparing for her daughter’s graduation in the spring, Tuli Chediak received a blunt message from her daughter’s charter high school: Pay us $600 or your daughter won’t graduate. She also received a harsh lesson about charter schools: Sometimes they play by their own rules. During the past 15 years, Florida has embarked on a dramatic shift in public education, steering billions in taxpayer dollars from traditional school districts to independently run charter schools. What started as an educational movement has turned into one of the region’s fastest-growing industries, backed by real-estate developers and promoted by politicians. But while charter schools have grown into a $400-million-a-year business in South Florida, receiving about $6,000 in taxpayer dollars for every student enrolled, they continue to operate with little public oversight. Even when charter schools have been caught violating state laws, school districts have few tools to demand compliance…”
  • Profits and questions at online charter schools, By Stephanie Saul, December 12, 2011, New York Times: “By almost every educational measure, the Agora Cyber Charter School is failing. Nearly 60 percent of its students are behind grade level in math. Nearly 50 percent trail in reading. A third do not graduate on time. And hundreds of children, from kindergartners to seniors, withdraw within months after they enroll. By Wall Street standards, though, Agora is a remarkable success that has helped enrich K12 Inc., the publicly traded company that manages the school. And the entire enterprise is paid for by taxpayers. Agora is one of the largest in a portfolio of similar public schools across the country run by K12. Eight other for-profit companies also run online public elementary and high schools, enrolling a large chunk of the more than 200,000 full-time cyberpupils in the United States…”
  • New Mexico legislators look to curb charter school costs, By Ben Wieder, December 12, 2011, Stateline.org: “One of Albuquerque’s charter schools, Academia de Lengua Y Cultura, offers a dual-language middle-school curriculum, with teachers in some classes giving lessons in English and Spanish on alternating days. Across town, the Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School, which takes students from sixth grade through high school, emphasizes seminar discussions and offers advanced international diplomas. The Southwest Secondary Learning Center, meanwhile, reinforces math, science and engineering lessons by allowing students to maintain and fly real airplanes. They represent three of New Mexico’s more than 80 charter schools. While some of those schools look and act like private institutions – their leaders have freedom to run them as they see fit as long as students meet state standards – they are part of the public school system, charge no tuition and receive nearly all of their funding from state monies. But unlike other states, where average per-student funding for charters is typically lower than it is for other public schools, a legislative report released last month found that charters in New Mexico receive an average of 26 percent more funding per student than traditional public schools. The report suggested that lawmakers change how schools are funded to address that…”
  • Number of charter school students soars to 2 million as states pass laws encouraging expansion, Associated Press, December 7, 2011, Washington Post: “The number of students attending charter schools has soared to more than 2 million as states pass laws lifting caps and encouraging their expansion, according to figures released Wednesday. The growth represents the largest increase in enrollment over a single year since charter schools were founded nearly two decades ago. In all, more than 500 new charter schools were opened in the 2011-12 school year. And about 200,000 more students are enrolled now than a year before, an increase of 13 percent nationwide…”
  • More whites drawn to charter schools, By Jennifer Smith Richards, December 12, 2011, Columbus Dispatch: “Charter schools statewide and in Franklin County have become much more racially diverse over the past decade, state enrollment data show. In the 2000-01 school year, when charters still were new in Ohio, 87 percent of the 748 Franklin County charter students were members of minorities. In the 2010-11 school year, roughly 33,000 students attended local charters, and 63 percent were nonwhite. The local shift mirrors one statewide, where the total percentage of black, Latino, Asian, American Indian and multiracial students has dropped from 86 percent to about 60 percent in the past 10 years. The reason for the shift, experts say, is twofold: Parents now have more charter schools from which to choose, which makes the option attractive to a wider range of parents. And many schools now are marketing to suburban families instead of focusing on students from urban districts such as Columbus…”

Charter School for Children in Foster Care – New York

NY charter school throws foster kids a safety net, By Larry Neumeister (AP), July 10, 2011, Seattle Times: “A Harvard-trained administrator thought she had heard it all as a gatekeeper in a city office responsible for supporting charter schools when Bill Baccaglini walked enthusiastically through the door with one more idea. ‘I thought, ‘Here we go, another big idea,” recalled Jessica Nauiokas. But she found herself liking his plans so much that she offered to be the Bronx school’s principal. ‘I walked out of the meeting and said, ‘Wow. That actually is a compelling idea.” Thus explains how Nauiokas became principal at the Haven Academy Charter School, where a third of students are in foster care. Another third are in families receiving preventive services to diminish the need for foster care. The rest are from the Mott Haven community, which is in a Congressional district where a soaring poverty rate keeps a third of residents on public assistance…”

Kids Count Report – New Jersey

  • Report shows fourth-grade students in N.J. public, charter schools have same passing rates, By Rohan Mascarenhas, November 10, 2010, Star-Ledger: “Some public schools in Newark are among the best in the city, performing as well as charters in certain areas, according to the annual Kids Count survey to be released today. Comparing test scores and demographic data, the report found public schools had the same passing rates on average as charters at the fourth grade level, thanks to a decade of significant academic gains. The data appears to contradict the prevailing assumption about the consistent high quality of charter schools and their reputation as a panacea. It also belies the rhetoric from politicians and educators that Newark schools are uniformly bad…”
  • Newark rents rise, incomes are stagnant, and more kids on food stamps, report shows, By Rohan Mascarenhas, November 11, 2010, Star-Ledger: “A study released today painted a grim picture of social and economic struggles in the state’s largest city. Rents in Newark have spiked, and more city kids are on food stamps, while income levels are remaining stagnant, according to the annual Kids Count survey published by the Advocates for Children in New Jersey. The report found that median rents rose 22 percent between 2005 and 2009. At the same time, the average income for Newarkers increased only one percent. Compiling statistics on welfare and demographic data, the survey offers a snapshot of the recession’s impact in Newark, where the unemployment rate hovers around 15 percent. Over the past five years, the number of Newark children on food stamps has jumped sharply, rising 33 percent, the report said…”

Racial Enrollment Gaps in Charter Schools

  • Study: Charter school growth accompanied by racial imbalance, By Nick Anderson, February 4, 2010, Washington Post: “Seven out of 10 black charter school students are on campuses with extremely few white students, according to a new study of enrollment trends that shows the independent public schools are less racially diverse than their traditional counterparts. The findings from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, which are being released Thursday, reflect the proliferation of charter schools in the District of Columbia and other major cities with struggling school systems and high minority populations. To the authors of the study, the findings point to a civil rights issue: ‘As the country continues moving steadily toward greater segregation and inequality of education for students of color in schools with lower achievement and graduation rates,’ the study concludes, ‘the rapid growth of charter schools has been expanding a sector that is even more segregated than the public schools…'”
  • Report: Racial gap grows in charter schools, By Emily Gersema, February 8 2010, Arizona Republic: “The racial gap is widening with the increase in charter schools in Arizona and other states due to a lack of regulation and enforcement of existing civil-rights regulations, a group of researchers based at the University of California-Los Angeles said in a new report. The UCLA Civil Rights Project report, ‘Choice Without Equity,’ revealed what researchers deemed a troubling pattern of racial stratification in charter schools across the country. They said they believe state and federal intervention can turn the trend around. Gary Orfield, the project’s co-director, said the Obama administration’s recent grant programs, such as Race to the Top, and charter-school grants that encourage the expansion of charters and development of new ones, are a timely opportunity for regulation…”

Charter School Performance – Georgia, Washington DC

  • Georgia’s charter schools see gains educating diverse students, By D. Aileen Dodd, January15, 2010, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “An annual report on Georgia’s charter schools in 2009 found that many of the campuses were outperforming surrounding schools even though the charters enrolled large populations of poor students. The report released at a Georgia Board of Education meeting this week showed that most charter schools, which enroll higher concentrations of African-Americans, Asians and poor students on average, are seeing gains on standardized test scores…”
  • Graduation rate drops at D.C. charter schools, By Michael Birnbaum, January 16, 2010, Washington Post: “The graduation rate for D.C. charter schools dropped nearly five percentage points, to 83.3 percent, for the 2008-09 school year, officials said Friday. The rate is still higher than that of regular D.C. public schools, which announced last week that theirs had increased 2.6 percentage points, to 72.3 percent, in the 2008-09 school year. Charter school officials said they were not worried, and they attributed the decrease to improved tracking…”

Effectiveness of Charter Schools

Charter schools: Two studies, two conclusions, By Nick Anderson, November 30, 2009, Washington Post: “As President Obama pushes for more charter schools, the education world craves a report card on an experiment nearly two decades old. How are these independent public schools doing? The safest and perhaps most accurate reply — it depends — leaves many unsatisfied. This year, two major studies offer contradictory conclusions on a movement that now counts more than 5,000 charter schools nationwide, including dozens in the District and Maryland and a handful in Virginia…”

Self-governed Schools – Minneapolis, MN

‘New schools’ to serve poor students proposed, By Emily Johns, November 18, 2009, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “The Minneapolis school board will get a chance next month to give its blessing to the creation of up to five autonomous schools in the city. The district hopes the schools, some of which wouldn’t be run by the district, could more effectively educate poor students and be a lab for innovation regarding what works in urban education. ‘There are a number of new autonomous schools across the country that have demonstrated tremendous success with economically disadvantaged children,’ said Jon Bacal, who heads the district’s new Office of New Schools. ‘The end result should be a high-quality learning program for Minneapolis children.’ The Office of New Schools is an effort to address quality issues in the lowest-performing 25 percent of the district’s schools. Converting one of these schools to a “new school” is one method; others include changing leadership, school staff or curriculums…”

Longer School Days and the Achievement Gap

Will a longer school day help close the achievement gap?, By Amanda Paulson, November 1, 2009, Christian Science Monitor: “Going to school from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. may sound like a student’s nightmare, but Sydney Shaw, a seventh-grader at the Alain Locke Charter Academy on Chicago’s West Side, has come to like it – as well as the extra 20 or so days that she’s in class a year. ‘I’m sure every kid at this school says bad things about the schedule sometimes,’ says Sydney, who was at school on Columbus Day, when most Chicago schools had a holiday. ‘But deep down, we all know it’s for our benefit.’ Finding ways to give kids more classroom time, through longer hours, a longer school year, or both, is getting more attention. President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan support a lengthier timetable. Many education reformers agree that more time at school is a key step. Charter schools like Alain Locke and KIPP schools (a network of some 80 schools that are often lauded for their success with at-risk students) have made big gains in closing gaps in student achievement, partly through expanded schedules. Other schools have been making strides, too – notably in Massachusetts and in the New Orleans system…”

Promise Neighborhoods Program

Program based on Harlem initiative shows promise, By Cassandra West, November 4, 2009, Chicago Tribune: “Former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton famously drew on an African proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ to explain her vision for American children more than decade ago. Now the Obama administration is looking to another village — local urban communities — to serve the educational and social needs of children in poverty with its Promise Neighborhoods, an initiative modeled on the transformative and widely touted Harlem Children’s Zone. For two days next week representatives from the Chicago communities of Chicago Lawn, Logan Square and Woodlawn will be in New York attending the conference, ‘Changing the Odds: Learning from the Harlem Children’s Zone Model.’ The forum is a first step for advocates and community groups interested in replicating the New York City-based endeavor, which President Barack Obama has called ‘an all-encompassing, all-hands-on-deck anti-poverty effort…'”

Growth of Charter Schools – Los Angeles, CA

L.A. charter schools get a chance to grow, but how big?, By Howard Blume, September 2, 2009, Los Angeles Times: “A groundbreaking plan to open 51 new Los Angeles schools and 200 existing ones to possible outside control has Randy Palisoc feeling as if salvation is just steps away. A new $54-million campus he covets is rising a block from where his award-winning charter school operates in a rented church. Palisoc is among many with big dreams since the Los Angeles Board of Education approved its landmark school control resolution last week. The management of about a fourth of all district schools could be up for grabs. As a result, leading charter school operators anticipate accelerated growth for their organizations and better facilities for some current schools. An 11-school nonprofit group controlled by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is eyeing a new high school south of downtown and may bid for more existing campuses. Momentum is building for internal district proposals…”

Promise Neighborhoods Program

Harlem program singled out as model, By Robin Shulman, August 2, 2009, Washington Post: “On a recent Saturday morning in Harlem, a few dozen pregnant women in a parenting class made resolutions for life after the baby’s birth. Avoid cursing. Provide healthy foods. Develop a sleeping routine for the infant. “I want my son to be perfect,” said Naquell Williams, 22, who is unemployed and pregnant with a child whose father is in prison. This is the starting point for the Harlem Children’s Zone: the womb. Geoffrey Canada’s nonprofit has created a web of programs that begin before birth, end with college graduation and reach almost every child growing up in 97 blocks carved out of the struggling central Harlem neighborhood…”