Trends in the News

Charter Schools

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The 74, 8/13/18

Why school districts are walking away from authorizing new charter schools — and why that’s both a bad and a good thing

In recent years, more school districts have walked away from the opportunity to authorize new charter schools. New research from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers has found a shift in the national charter school landscape: For the first time, most new charter schools are opening under authorizers other than local school districts, with state education agencies and independent chartering boards leading the way.

Charter School Growth Fund, 3/6/18

KIPP Houston takes procurement paperless

KIPP Houston has made great strides installing new systems and processes to keep up with their growth, but one area where the organization was still feeling the pain of a manual approach was procurement — which KIPP Houston defines as everything from selecting goods and services, negotiating prices, establishing compliant contracts, submitting purchase orders for approval, and ultimately making payment. Over the last 18 months, KIPP Houston has made a push to transition from a manual, paper-based procurement process to a digital “procure-to-pay” solution.

Ed Surge, 2/5/18

Big data, different visions: Why charter networks are investing heavily in data teams

Charter management organizations, which operate publicly-funded schools, are making million-dollar investments on data teams and shaking up staffing norms in the process. Schools are hiring for these positions with hopes that the data they collect from online educational tools will inform decisions about classroom instruction, staff development, operational efficacy, funding, community engagement—and almost any other question public school stakeholders care to ask. Yet how these data teams and systems are built and funded vary significantly.

Education Next, 2/1/18

Pensions under pressure: Charter innovation in teacher retirement benefits

To explore this possibility, we studied retirement plans and surveyed charter schools in five states with such flexibility: Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, and Michigan. We find a growing number of schools, especially those run by management organizations, are choosing to opt out of state pension plans. In lieu of standard plans, charters are providing various, more portable defined-contribution options and incentives such as 401(k) and 403(b) plans, potentially providing a new way to ensure that teachers’ retirements are secure. In interviews, charter operators detail their reasons for these choices, providing important context to a retirement challenge that is unlikely to be resolved without significant action.

Chicago Tribune, 1/30/18

CTU members give go-ahead to merger with charter school union

Labor groups representing educators at the city’s traditionally run public schools and privately operated charters are set to merge, following a vote by Chicago Teachers Union members. CTU leaders late Monday said results showed that a merger won favor with 70 percent of the 16,206 ballots cast.

Chalkbeat, 1/10/18

New research estimates the cost of charter growth for districts

“For evaluating the social value of charter schools, a more complete analysis of benefits and costs would be required,” Ladd and Singleton write. “That analysis would have to include any benefits from charter school expansion through greater choice for parents and children, as well as any additional costs in the form of, for example, greater racial or economic isolation.”

In our recent blog post, “How Districts Can Afford Quality Schools Despite Enrollment Decline,” Afton recognized the financial challenges of school districts facing enrollment decline with or without charter school growth, and provided actionable recommendations to balance finances effectively and align it with academic outcomes.

American Statesman, 5/1/17

Texas: Senate passes bill to help save charter schools money on construction

Senate Bill 1480, which would allocate an additional $3 billion of the Permanent School Fund to back charter school bonds, passed the Senate Monday, with four Republicans voting against the measure. The $30 billion Permanent School Fund, the largest education endowment in the country, guarantees bonds from traditional school districts and charter schools, allowing them to borrow money for construction at lower interest rates.