Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Online Recap of National Charter School Conference

In case you weren't one of the more than 3,400 people who attended the National Charter School Conference, check out the recap here. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan's, speech is on day one.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Further Remarks from Ed Sec Arne Duncan

The following is from a press release from the U.S. Dept. of Education:

Following up on his remarks earlier this week at the National Charter Schools Conference in Washington D.C., U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today issued the following statement urging states to work with charter school operators to turn around struggling schools and provide innovation and choice to students and parents:

“States need to have a plan to turn around their lowest-performing schools. I’m an advocate of using whatever model works for children and I want charter schools to join that work. But they won’t be able to get into the turnaround business in states that restrict the growth of charters. States that slow innovation are limiting opportunities for students and placing themselves at a competitive disadvantage for $4 billion in Race to the Top Fund grants.

“For example, in Indiana and Maine, state legislatures must act in the best interest of students and open doors to education entrepreneurs, like those running charter schools. While some states limit the number of charter schools, others like Louisiana and Tennessee, have lifted their caps on charters, giving more students the opportunity to attend higher performing schools.

“Let me be clear, I am not simply advocating for more charter schools. We need more good charter schools. There needs to be a high bar set for entry during the charter application process, and accountability systems need to link student achievement to instruction.”

“Many charter school operators are today’s top education innovators and entrepreneurs. Children need more high-quality educational options, and charter schools have an important role to play in the school turnaround business.”

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

NY Chancellor Says NYC Charter School Movement Built on Accountability

Chancellor Joel Klein, New York Public Schools, addressed attendees of the National Charter School Conference on the second day of the conference. Klein noted early in his remarks that he’s a board member of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Klein said they built the charter school movement in New York on accountability for performance. Charter schools are compared to other public schools serving the same cohort of students. Further, every school gets a letter grade and a report card that parents can understand.

Klein noted that next year the city will have 100 charter schools after having previously been stymied by a cap on the number of charter schools that can operate in New York. Moreover, eleven charter management organizations now operate schools in NY. Harlem has 25 charter schools. Klein proudly said that they gave charter schools public school space because they’re “all our kids.” He went on to say, “If you do great work, we’ll make space for you.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Michelle Rhee Supports Charter Schools in DC

The most energizing key note speaker for the opening day of the National Charter School conference was Michelle Rhee, the innovative leader of District of Columbia (DC) Public Schools. Rhee shook up the system when she closed schools and fired principals and teachers in order to increase academic achievement for the district’s students. Rhee said that there was a 70% gap in achievement between white students and African-American students in the district when she arrived to serve as superintendent. Further, only 8% were on grade level in Math according to the NAEP.

Repeatedly referencing the need to increase life opportunities for children, Rhee stated charter schools have brought two key tenets to the DC educational system: excellence and scale. She said that high-performing charter schools have eliminated the ability of traditional public school leaders to make excuses for their students not being able to perform at the same level as white students. Rhee said, “It’s not about market share, it’s about serving students well. We need to care about quality; for kids!”