Charter schools may be celebrating twenty years of existence, but the milestone gets most of them no closer to the surplus classroom space and facility financing controlled by local school boards.
Charters struggle to access surplus classroom space and facility financing controlled by local school boards.
Where local facility financing and public school space has come through for charters, it’s been at the behest of mayors, governors, and legislators who understand that charter schools are public schools and any system that obstructs their ability to get classroom space treats some public school students differently from others. Consider one example that Nelson Smith highlights in the current Education Next: Milwaukee Public Schools had been spending $1 million a year to maintain twenty-seven surplus school buildings that they refused to sell to charter schools. Why sell to the competition? The state legislature had to step in to allow the City of Milwaukee to sell the buildings over the school district’s objections.
Most states that have charter school laws, even laws that provide charters with at least some facility funding, can tell similar stories, and changing the circumstances isn’t easy. When a Florida senator wanted to force school districts to share as much as $140 million in local facility funding with charter schools, editorial pages throughout the state tried reminding readers that charters were supposed to do more with less. The proposal later died.
Smith, the former chief of the National Alliance for Public
The folks at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice have put out a call for research proposals that explore the effects that choice and competition have on K-12 education.
The foundation is looking for proposals from individual researchers or groups of researchers on any school choice topic related to vouchers, education savings accounts, and tax credit scholarships. Accepted projects will receive contracts that range from $5,000 to $15,000, and priority will go to research that has implications for choice program design, policymaking and advocacy.
Proposals should be 800 words or less and should be submitted no later than 5PM September 4 to Paul DiPerna, the Friedman Foundation’s research director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at One American Square, Suite 2420, Indianapolis, IN 46282. Researchers should include a cover sheet identifying the primary project contact as well as names(s), affiliation, telephone, and e-mail address. Those who submit proposals will learn of their status by November 15.
See here for suggested topics and a suggested proposal structure.
Would Henry V have benefitted from an all-boys school? David Brooks, in his critique of the American school scene, doesn’t look to single-gender schools to re-engage children like the rambunctious and adversarial Prince Hal, but officials at the U.S. Department of Education surely had boys like him in mind when they relaxed restrictions on single-sex public education six years ago.
Perhaps Prince Hal could've used an all-boys school.
Photo by Kevin Rawlings.
Those revised Title IX regulations allowed single-sex education to flourish. Nearly 400 public schools nationwide currently offer single-gender classrooms (ten years ago, there were only a dozen) and another 116 schools exist to serve either all boys or all girls. The freedom to establish these schools comes with a sensible caveat: The option must be voluntary for families. An Associated Press report last week radiated more heat than light on this growth, but it reminded us of the move to engage children like Henry with the methods Brooks says may be more effective for some boys than others: competition over cooperation; boot camps over friendship circles.
Leonard Sax, the founder and chief executive of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education, contends that some boys
Despite persistent hostility to charter school expansion in most states, there remains one aspect of charter schooling that fails to get the attention it deserves: athletics.
The limitations on charter school students’ access to sports penalize children and parents for choosing an alternative to a traditional public school. With considerable research showing the positive contribution that athletics participation has towards academic success, depriving students of this opportunity is not only unjust, it’s counterproductive to raising student achievement.
The actions of policymakers against charter school athletics are emblematic of the treatment of charters at large.
Photo by Anderson Mancini.
It is no coincidence that in areas where charter schools have proven academically effective and where they capture a larger share of the student population—Washington, DC, and New Orleans, in particular—charter school sports teams are finally gaining acceptance. An editorial in the Washington Post praised athletics director Clark Ray and noted that a “cruel inequity is coming to an end with the long-overdue decision by city officials to create an equal playing field for the growing numbers of charter school student-athletes.” This coming school year, DC will finally allow its charter-school teams, including some the best football squads in the area, to compete for city championships.
About the Editor
Director, Program on Parental Choice
Adam Emerson is the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s school choice czar, directing the Institute’s policy program on parental choice and editing the Choice Words blog. He coordinates the Institute’s school choice-related research projects, policy analyses and commentaries on issues that include charter schools and public school choice along with school vouchers, homeschooling and digital learning.
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