redefinED roundup: de Blasio sparks debate on charter schools, focus shifts to FL tax credit scholarships & more

MondayRoundUp_magentaAlabama: A bill advances to increase the individual tax credit for donations to private scholarship organizations (Montgomery Advertiser).

Alaska: Vic Fischer, a former delegate to the Alaska Constitutional Convention, opposes any amendment that would allow public funds for private and religious schools (Alaska Dispatch). A bill to allow the public to vote on such an amendment is pulled from the Senate (Alaska Dispatch).

Arizona: A plan to expand Education Scholarship Accounts advances in the legislature (Arizona Republic, Fox News). A special needs parent says public schools work great for her child and she worries that giving options to parents who aren’t satisfied will make her child’s education worse (Arizona Daily Star).

California: The court rules against Rocketship Education, arguing the Santa Clara County School Board cannot override local zoning ordinances to place charter schools (San Jose Mercury News). The CEO of the California Charter School Association says completion rates for college preparatory coursework is twice as high in Oakland-area charter schools than in local district schools (Contra Costa Times). A CREDO report reveals LA area charter schools outperform traditional district schools (KPCC 89.3).

Colorado: School choice critics in Jefferson County might want to tone down their rhetoric, according to columnist Vincent Carroll (Denver Post).

D.C.: Eight education groups apply to open new charter schools (Washington Post).

Florida: The Tampa Tribune editorial board argues in favor of expanding tax credit scholarships. The Miami Herald editorial board says tax credit scholarships drain public school funding. Columnist Frank Cerabino says tax credit scholarships don’t help the poor (Palm Beach Post). The Ocala Star Banner editorial board says the state should increase funding to public schools before funding private scholarships. Doug Tuthill, president of Step Up for Students, says tax-credit scholarships help poor students and are functionally no different to a neighborhood school’s budget than a magnet or IB school (Palm Beach Post). Watchdog writes up the proposed expansion bill. The Jewish Leadership Coalition lobbies for tax credit scholarships for Jewish Day Schools (Jewish Journal). Nan Rich, a Democrat candidate for governor, blasts current Gov. Rick Scott and primary challenger Charlie Christ over their support for school choice (Sunshine State News). The state Senate advances a bill that would encourage military bases to explore charter schools (redefinEDTampa Bay Times). Duval County School District may soon allow open enrollment for all public schools in the district (Florida Times-Union, First Coast News, Florida Times Union). Florida Virtual School holds a demonstration at the state Capitol (WCTV). A charter school in Miami-Dade opens a junior college on the campus (Miami Herald). The League of Women Voters draws criticism for opposing school choice and other issues (Tampa Tribune). Tax Credit Scholarships, ESAs and charter schools are among the bills being considered by the state legislature (Miami Herald). The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship cap may  triple in size over the next five years and if it does, so will the state allowances to scholarship granting organizations (Palm Beach Post).

Idaho: The House passes a tax credit scholarship bill (The Friedman Foundation).

Indiana: The school district in Fort Wayne releases a survey of parents and their choices of education options (Journal Gazette). A bill to allow districts to hire charter school or independent companies to manage low performing district schools heads to the governors desk (Indianapolis Star). A bill to fund a $10 million pre-k program for low-income students passes the house (Indianapolis Star).

Kansas: According to education economist Erik Hanushek, the Kansas Supreme Court shifts the focus from adequacy to outcomes (Education Next).

Louisiana: Three new charter schools are set to open in Lafayette and 1,300 students have already applied (The Advocate).

Maine: Two moms say virtual education is the solution for their children (Portland Press Herald). The state’s first virtual public school will be operated by Pearsons (Press Herald).

Massachusetts: Charter school advocates push a bill to increase the number of charters in the state (Education Week, WBZ CBS Boston, The Republican). Several gubernatorial candidates support lifting the charter school cap but with reservations (The Republican).  The Pioneer Institute says Gov. Deval Patrick needs to find a way to fund the school choice program that allows urban youth to attend public schools in the suburbs of Boston and Springfield (Huffington Post). A dozen groups file to open charter schools (WAPT News).

Minnesota: A bipartisan charter school bill advances in the state legislature (Education Week). Enrollment in online courses grows (Valley News Live).

Mississippi: A small education savings account program for special needs students advances in the state legislature (Associated Press, Hattiesburg American). The Greenwood Commonwealth editorial board opposes vouchers for special needs students because it cannot imagine private schools doing a better job than public schools.

Missouri: Only 23 students leave the Kansas City Public School District for schools in higher performing districts (Kansas City Star).

Nevada: Jim Clark, president of Republican Advocates, says school choice is a fundamental right but still a work in progress (Tahoe Daily Tribune).

New Jersey: Charter schools get creative to fund school construction and renovation (Education Week).

New York: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gets grilled on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” over treatment of charter schools (Politicker). A panel discusses the battle over charter schools on MSNBC. The Washington Post editorial board asks why de Blasio is undermining charter schools. De Blasio plans to charge rent to charter schools based on a sliding scale, but this plan faces many difficulties (New York Times). Parents at Success Academy sue the city over charter school policy (WABC TV, New York Daily News). Diane Ravitch says de Blasio is facing a smear campaign (Huffington Post). David Umansky, CEO of Civic Builders, a nonprofit that helps charter schools find real-estate, says charter schools need access to inexpensive school property (New York Post). Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silvers does not believe finding charter schools new property is an urgent matter (Newsday).  Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s support of New York City charter schools vaults the issue’s importance in the state legislature (Chalkbeat). Diane Ravitch says Gov. Cuomo only supports charter schools because they donated to his campaign (Huffington Post). Columnist Mona Charen says de Blasio’s opposition to charters is about his loyalty to unions not poor minority students (Sunshine State News). The de Blasio vs. Eva Moskowitz rivalry goes deeper than charter schools (New York Daily News).  The New York Times editorial board says there is too much hyperbole in the charters vs de Blasio debate. Some teachers say they felt pressure to attend a political rally earlier this month to support charter schools (The Nation). Marcus Winters, a professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, says New York City charters are working well (New York Daily News). Joshua Greenman, an editor at New York Daily News, says charter schools are a complex subject with pros and cons.  Elite New York City public schools with entrance exams have very few minority students (New York Times). Unions unite to support school choice (New York PostNew York Daily NewsNY1). A judge bars the state comptroller from auditing charter schools (Times Union, New York Daily News).

North Carolina: A survey of PTA members reveals widespread opposition to vouchers (NC Policy Watch). Eric Mansfield, a former state senator, says evidence shows vouchers do not work (Fayetteville Observer). Josh Ravitch, a guy who helps nonprofits, says vouchers undermine public education (Durham News). A charter school may have violated state open meeting laws (Charlotte Observer).

Oklahoma: Connections Academy, a virtual charter school, now serves more than 700 students across the state (Muskogee Phoenix).

Pennsylvania: The state legislature considers a bill that will allow universities to authorize charter schools (PA Independent). Charter school hearing brings out supporters and opponents (The Inquirer). Philadelphia plans to convert two district schools into charter schools (The Notebook).

South Carolina: A bill to renew the state’s tax credit scholarship program advances in the senate (The State). Bankruptcy keeps school choice advocate off scholarship organization board (The State).

Tennessee: Charles Sumner of the Nashville Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State says vouchers are a modern means of funding state religions (The Tennessean). A bill to allow for-profit companies to operate charter schools advances in the House (Fox 17, WSMV TV). The Jackson Sun editorial board opposes vouchers because it doesn’t solve all the problems of education. A Republican lawmaker, and voucher critic, wants private school teachers to use the same teacher evaluations as public schools (The Tennessean).

Texas: University of Texas professor Julian Vasquez Heilig says every student should have high quality choices, but only after blasting charter schools as a choice (My San Antonio).

Utah: Several charter schools in the state were warned about low performance and may lose their charters if they don’t improve (Education Week).

Wisconsin: A bill to require private schools to remain accredited while accepting voucher students passes the Senate (Milwaukee Sentinel Journal, Fox News 11, Badger Herald). The state notified a low-performing private school that it will not be allowed to accept voucher students next year (Milwaukee Sentinel Journal). The statewide voucher program for low-income students draws applications from 120 private schools that wish to participate next fall (Wisconsin State Journal, MacIver Institute).

Nation: Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson says charter schools are an attack on civil rights (Mediaite). Several education reformers come together and argue that accountability can mean imposing the same standards and rules on everyone, or it can mean empowering parents to decide where their child is educated (National Review). Education reform researchers say accountability is about holding schools responsible for results, not requiring them to follow the same rules (Cato Institute, redefinED). Education Scholarship Accounts spread from Arizona to Missouri and Mississippi (Heartland). The teacher-union-funded National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado recommends zip code boundaries for online schools (Getting Smart). The teacher-union-backed PDK International says charter schools increase racial segregation (Washington Post). Moms push for school choice for their kids (Heartland). De Blasio’s attacks on charter schools sparks a nationwide debate (Slate). The House Education Committee discusses charter schools (Education Week, New York Post). Sen. Tim Scott argues for school choice at CPAC (Post and Courier). The Network for Public Education hosts a conference in Austin to discuss “defending public education” from school choice (Tucson Weekly).