redefinED roundup: ESA expansion halted in AZ, court hears tax credit scholarship case in NH and more

MondayRoundUp_magentaAlabama: The Alabama Education Association, which opposes a new tax-credit scholarship program, says former Gov. Bob Riley has personally banked up to $1 million from it (he has made $0) ( The AEA is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to back Republican and Democrat candidates to run against lawmakers that support school choice. (

Arizona: A bill to expand the education savings accounts program advances in the Senate (Arizona Capitol TimesAssociated Press) but is defeated after nine Republicans vote no (Arizona Republic, Arizona Daily Star, Associated Press). Laurie Roberts, a columnist for the Arizona Republic, describes the Empowerment Scholarship Accounts expansion as a bill designed to weaken public schools. The accounts allow families access to special needs funds in order to customize the learning options for their children (Wall Street Journal, Jay P. Greene Blog). The editorial board for the Daily Courier says school choice should remain limited to public schools, including public charters. The accounts allow parents to save money for use in future education, including higher education, and David Saifer, a columnist for Tucson Weekly, seems to think  saving money is a terrible idea. So do public education officials (Arizona Capitol Times). A Democrat campaign manager says the accounts will destroy public education (

Delaware: State officials approve four new charter schools (The News Journal).

Florida: Steve Knellinger, an administrator at St. Petersburg Christian School, says tax-credit scholarships create more options and help improve student achievement (Tampa Bay Times). A mother of two tax-credit scholarship students is mad the PTA is fighting thel scholarships (Florida Times-Union). James Herzog, director of education for the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, says there is good evidence to prove school choice expansion is needed (Palm Beach Post). Gov. Rick Scott is noncommittal on whether private schools accepting scholarship students should take the same state assessment as public schools (State Impact). The Florida Citizens for Science want private schools that accept tax-credit scholarships and vouchers to teach evolution by state standards (Tallahassee Democrat). A former Republican lawmaker says public schools should be fully funded before allowing voucher programs to expand (The Ledger).  Frank Cerabino, a columnist with the Palm Beach Post, says school choice has been around for a long time for those who can afford it. The Florida Times-Union editorial board says education achievement is getting better and solving poverty is a better solution to improving schools than attempting school choice. Eileen Roy, a school board member in Alachua County, thinks vouchers will destroy public schools (Gainesville Sun). Former state Senator Al Lawson says tax-credit scholarships serve some of the most disadvantaged students in the state and the program deserves to be expanded (Florida Today).

Democratic lawmakers blame charter schools for a decrease in state appropriated capital funding for public schools (Creative Loafing). Charter school critics claim charters get the lion’s share of capital funds but the critics disregard local revenue sources (redefinED). Six single-gender charter schools will open over the next few years in the Jacksonville area (Florida Times-Union).

Illinois: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul heads to Chicago to talk about school choice (Crain’s Chicago Business Journal). Neerav Kingsland, the former CEO of New Schools for New Orleans, says the state should give charter schools a chance to succeed (USA Today).

Indiana: Bill McCaw, president of the New Community School board of directors, sets the record straight about the state’s charter school laws (Journal-Courier).

Kansas: Legislators plan to improve public school funding equity but also want to create a tax-credit scholarship program to provide $10 million in scholarships for low-income students (Hays Daily News, Education Week, Hutch News).

Louisiana: OneApp allows parents to apply to multiple schools with just one application (Times-Picayune). A bill with bipartisan support will allow students in low-performing public schools to transfer to higher-performing public schools (Associated Press). Two charter schools in Lafayette prepare to open in the fall (The Advocate).

Maine: A bill to place a moratorium on new virtual schools fails (Associated Press).

Mississippi: A parent says poverty is the problem in education and charter schools are not the solution (Clarion Ledger). Erika Berry, the executive director of the Mississippi Charter School Association, says charter schools are one of many public school solutions available to students (Clarion Ledger).

Missouri: There are several new proposals to amend the state’s public school transfer rules, including making charter schools an option for students zoned to schools in unaccredited school districts (MissouriNet).

Montana: The state doesn’t have an official private school choice program but thanks to a $4.6 million donation, low-income kids in the state have access to needs-based scholarships to attend private schools (Billings Gazette).

New Hampshire: The state Supreme Court will hear the anti-tax credit scholarship case this week (Bedford Patch, New Hampshire Public Radio, Seacoast Online, Union LeaderEd is Watching). Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, says the parents of New Hampshire schoolchildren should be allowed to have school choice (Union Leader).

New Jersey: NJ Spotlight discusses the role of charter schools. A lawmaker wants to bar public school choice students from playing sports in the receiving district if the sport is offered at the student’s assigned school (My Central Jersey). Two charter schools appeal the state’s decision to close the schools by the end of the year (Philadelphia Inquirer).

New York: A Catholic School in Brooklyn plans to close its doors for good and the principal argues that tax-credit scholarships could have saved it (Brooklyn Daily, NY1). New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s attorneys take a sharp turn in favor of charter schools (New York Post). James Merriman, the CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, says we need to create conditions for charters and district schools to succeed in teaching a diverse population of students (New York Daily News). Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be the honorary chairman of a pro-charter school summit (Times Union).

North Carolina: State legislators and the state attorney general disagree on how to defend the state’s voucher program against two lawsuits (WRAL). The editorial board of the News & Observer says conservatives in the legislature supporting vouchers are reckless. Patrick Gibbons, the public affairs manager for Step Up for Students (which co-hosts this blog), argues that school choice in North Carolina will help desegregation efforts and provide opportunities to low-income students (Chapel Hill News). Buddy Harris, a policy analyst with the Hunt Institute, argues vouchers are meant to circumvent dealing with issues of poverty in education (Transylvania Times). The editorial board of the Winston-Salem Journal says virtual schools could be good but legislators should approach them with caution. The editorial board of the News & Observer argues that since charter schools are public schools, the employee salaries should be made public record.

Ohio: A bill to allow Cleveland-area students access to EdChoice vouchers if the Cleveland voucher program is full passes the House (Plain Dealer).

Pennsylvania: Teachers at the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School approve union representation (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Education WeekAssociated PressIntercepts). The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association wants to protect public schools from athletic competition from charter schools (York Dispatch).

South Carolina: A new survey shows two-thirds of voters in the state approve of tax-deduction scholarships, but just 45 percent support tax-credit scholarships (The State).

Tennessee: The senate and governor approve a voucher plan (The Tennessean) but the House drops the bill, falling just two committee votes short of passing it out of the House Finance Committee (The Tennessean, Nashville PostAssociated Press). The editorial board of the Commercial Appeal says the failure to pass the voucher bill was a disservice to the poor. The editorial board of the Jackson Sun says the House should pass the voucher bill. A bill to allow the State Board of Education to approve charter school applications that were rejected by local school boards heads to the governor’s office (Chattanooga Times Free Press). An education reform legislator storms out of a committee hearing after no one motions to take up votes on his two bills (Nashville Post). A private scholarship program helps a few low-income students enroll in private schools (Watchdog).

Wisconsin: A private school says it want all of its students tested on the state exam, but it is not only cost prohibitive, the state doesn’t allow non-voucher students to take the test (Leader Telegram). Sen. Rand Paul plans to stop in Milwaukee to talk about school choice (Milwaukee Business Journal). Open enrollment, charter schools and vouchers have changed the competitive dynamics of urban school athletics and some administrators want to make the competition more fair between urban and rural schools (Lacrosse Tribune).

Nation: Craig Hochbein, a professor at Lehigh University, says charter schools may end up helping lift all boats, but they won’t likely reduce achievement gaps (Huffington Post). Congressional lawmakers form a School Choice Caucus (Heartlander). Public schools in the south are more racially segregated today than 20 years ago (The Atlantic). Sen. Elizabeth Warren believes vouchers for students to attend any public or charter school can shake up the education system (New