Category Archives: Public Charter Schools

NAEP Scores Confirm Colorado Charter Schools are Exceptional

Once again, Colorado’s charter public schools have ranked in the top of their class and continue to set the precedent for what school choice can achieve.

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Boston Study Proves Success of Charter Schools

This study is a thorough proof of the success of charter schools when compared to traditional public schools and pilot schools, and has greatly impacted the charter school market in Boston.

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No-excuse Charter Schools have Transformed Education for Low-income Urban Students

No-excuse charter schools are undeniably doing something right. They have managed to significantly increase test scores and college graduation rates while simultaneously reducing pregnancy and incarceration rates.

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Oracle Builds 43 Million-dollar STEM Charter School

I recently took a road trip to California for the holidays. I passed through Silicon Valley, and boy was there some cool stuff to see–the most interesting thing? Well, aside from the Winchester Mystery House and people wearing scarves in 70-degree weather, I marveled at the sight of a 43 million-dollar public charter school campus being built into the side of a behemoth tech company. Oracle, a computer software company based out of California, is just finishing the construction of a new campus designated to Design Tech High School. The campus will be integrated into Oracle’s estate, placing 550 students and an enormous tech company in a shared proximity. Design Tech is a public charter school that emphasizes STEM courses and Stanford Universities’ design thinking. Now, it will act as a leading model for partnerships between technology companies and public education. Students at Design Tech will not only benefit from the brand new high-tech campus gifted by Oracle, but also from the opportunity for internships and mentoring from their neighboring organization. The price that Oracle is charging for rent? One dollar per-year. Even I could afford that with my allowance. While some are concerned that Oracle may exercise excessive power […]

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Union Wins Bragging Rights

The Douglas County School Board election results were disappointing: The union backed, anti-reform slate of candidates won with the help of a last minute, 300,000-dollar push by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Douglas County’s unique district funded school-voucher program will likely, but not certainly, end. Pam Benigno, the director of the Education Policy Center at the Independence Institute, elaborated on the results of the election in The Denver Post, stating that: “No doubt they [the union backed slate] will end the [Choice Scholarship] program and no longer defend it through the court system. No doubt the union’s prize for winning the election will be a collective bargaining agreement and national bragging rights that they killed the nation’s first local school board voucher program.” While strong union involvement was an important factor in the election, the union backed candidates were also able to capitalize on the current political environment. The Trump/DeVos hysteria, when paired with the recent criticism of charter schools by groups such as the ACLU and NAACP, has created political turmoil that has masked the success of school choice programs across the county. These forces have created uncertainty about the legitimacy of charter schools, and reintroduced the stale […]

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Let’s Not Forget Colorado’s Successful Charter Schools

Lots of great things have been happening in school choice lately. All over the nation, research is emerging about the success of charter schools. I’ve highlighted some of these studies, specifically from New York and Florida, but it’s been awhile since we talked about charter schools in Colorado. So today, why don’t we? The newest comprehensive research done by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), the 2016 State of Charter Schools Triennial Report, displays the success charter schools in Colorado have had in improving education for the general student population and disadvantaged groups. Contrary to the opponents of school choice who claim that charter schools are the religious right’s 21st century attempt at segregation, CDE determined that public charter schools in Colorado actually serve a greater percentage of minority students than the state average for non-charters. 46.9% of charter school students are minorities, while the state average in 45.9%. Though public charter schools in Colorado serve slightly fewer students that qualify for free or reduced lunch programs (FRPL), those that do attend charter schools show greater academic proficiency. On the 2014 state Transitional Colorado Assessment Program, charter school students that qualified for free or reduced lunch programs predominantly outperformed their […]

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Florida Charter Schools do More with Less

Boy, would I like to visit Florida. Walt Disney World, Legoland, and a flourishing assortment of innovative charter schools–what’s there that a five-year old wouldn’t love? OK, to be honest I’m more excited by the theme parks than the schools, but the growth and success of Florida’s charter schools is like Splash Mountain to my policy nerd friends over at the Independence Institute. One of the most recent testaments to the success of charter schools in Florida is the Florida Department of Education’s (FLDOE) Student Achievements in Florida’s Charter Schools report. FLDOE’s report uses 4.2 million test scores from the 2015-2016 school year to compare charter school students to traditional public-school students “in terms of grade level achievement, learning gains, and achievement gap.” In 84% of the comparisons, students in charter schools had higher grade level performances, and in 85% of comparisons the average learning gains for charter school students were higher. Florida’s charter schools are thriving; it’s no wonder their enrollment has almost tripled in the last ten years. And no, the results of this report were not fueled by charter schools filled with preppy white suburban kids. The number of charter school minority students in this study exceeded […]

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AFT “so far” pumps $600,000 into School Board Race

Remember the Douglas County School Board race? The Toxic-Trio, tire scraps, Blaine Amendments, and what not? Of course you do. The Doug Co race has been one of Colorado’s most eminent issues for months. Well, mail-in ballots have arrived in homes, and with just minutes to go in the bottom of the ninth, the nation’s second largest teacher’s union has made a desperate attempt to sway the outcome of the election in its favor. The Douglas County School Board race has garnered much national attention–and rightly so. It will not only determine the fate of private school choice in Douglas County, but could determine the constitutionality of Blaine clauses in Colorado. It’s a pivotal moment in education, which is why the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is adamantly attempting to manipulate the election to fit its political agenda. Ross Izard, senior policy analyst at the Independence Institute and my favorite policy nerd, details the recent uncovering of an additional 300,000-dollar donation AFT made to the Douglas County race (after its initial 300,000-contribution) in his op-ed A national teachers’ union’s war machine is on the move in Colorado, which was published in The Hill. In total, AFT has donated 600,000 dollars to […]

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HB 1375: What Is It, and What Does It Mean for Charters?

Last week, we talked about the sausage-making process behind House Billl 17-1375, which was originally Senate Bill 17-061, but on two separate occasions was part of Senate Bill 17-296.  Got it? Tortured though its legislative journey was, HB 1375’s passage has been heralded by many who worked on it as a huge victory for public charter schools. The Colorado League of Charter Schools, which spearheaded the effort, has been celebrating the bill’s passage as it heads to the governor’s desk, as has much of the rest of Colorado’s education reform lobby. Even the Denver Post gave the bill it’s nod of approval just before final passage. Certainly, some high-fiving and celebration is in order. Many people and organizations, including the Independence Institute, worked in support of Senate Bill 061’s original incarnation. Those folks, and the handful of Senate Democrats brave enough to vote for the bill in its near-original form, deserve a lot of praise for their efforts. But after all the backroom deals and last-minute compromises, I think it’s important to take a close look at what, exactly, we passed. Let’s do that today. Below is a rundown of the major changes to the final bill and what they might mean […]

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Sausage, Sausage Everywhere: Charter Funding Bill Survives the Legislature… Sort of

Well, my friends, we made it. As of last week, Colorado’s 2017 legislative session is a done deal. The session produced a couple of notable wins, including the elimination of PARCC in Colorado high schools and the bipartisan death of  Senator Mike “Special-Place-in-Hell” Merrifield’s perennial effort to blow up teacher tenure reform, performance compensation, and accountability in Colorado. But the main show of this year’s session was Senate Bill 061’s long and tortured journey toward finally providing funding equity for Colorado’s public charter school students. Unfortunately, that journey was rather messy and didn’t end quite the way I had hoped it would. Despite some major controversy, SB 061 cleared the Colorado Senate on a bipartisan 22-13 vote back in March. Five brave Democrats joined most Senate Republicans in pushing the funding bill forward, though they did add an amendment offering districts the opportunity to “clarify” voter intent with regard to mill levy override revenues—an addition I find rather disconcerting given the near-total lack of MLOs that explicitly exclude public charters. But hey, at least it got through. Then stuff got weird.

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