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Center for Reinventing Public Education, 1/31/17

Bridging the district-charter divide to help more students succeed

In at least 35 urban school districts with significant numbers of charter schools, efforts are under way to jointly improve instruction, align policies, address inequities, or garner efficiencies. About a dozen of these districts are using cooperation, also commonly referred to as districtcharter collaboration, to drive decisions and address systemic challenges, including tracking school performance, student enrollment, and school closure. The report includes recommendations for district and charter leaders, State Education Agencies, and funders to better support the often difficult, politically divisive work of cooperation.

Arizona Central , 1/31/17

Arizona school-voucher expansion afoot

Empowerment Scholarship Accounts allow parents to take money that would otherwise go directly to their local public school, and put it toward private-school tuition, homeschooling, tutoring, therapy, and other education-related expenses. Critics of the program say it siphons money away from public district schools, and over time, could substantially erode school funding.

NPR Education, 1/19/17

Education department drops fight over school money

The U.S. Department of Education has withdrawn a proposal that could have fundamentally changed the flow of federal dollars to schools that serve low-income students…Everyone agrees that Title I dollars are not supposed to gap-fill. They’re meant to be extra — the technical term is “supplemental” — for low-income kids who need them most. What the sides don’t agree on is how districts prove they’re not just filling gaps and that state and local resources are being spread fairly.

Time Magazine, 1/6/17

Opinion: Education is not a marketplace you can game with vouchers

School vouchers are dollar-based credits that parents can use to pay for schools beyond their neighborhood. Those options may include public schools in nearby districts, private schools and, occasionally, parochial schools. Unfortunately, the education “marketplace” is not ready to handle this game-changer. That’s because what makes a real marketplace work—good information, pricing flexibility and low friction—just doesn’t exist.

Washington Post, 1/19/17

Obama administration spent billions to fix failing schools, and it didn’t work

The money went to states to distribute to their poorest-performing schools — those with exceedingly low graduation rates, or poor math and reading test scores, or both. Individual schools could receive up to $2 million per year for three years, on the condition that they adopt one of the Obama administration’s four preferred measures. Peter Cunningham writes in Education Next on SIG: “The fact that the study did not even look at the program’s effects on D- or F schools is also important because these schools had nowhere to go but up. As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened in some of them. When the 2015 analysis was released, Edweek reported that, “SIG schools were more likely to see double-digit gains in reading and math than other schools.”

Chalkbeat, 1/23/16

Indiana: Schools would have more control over their money under GOP plan, but it’s unclear whether students would benefit

House Bill 1009, authored by Rep. Tony Cook, R-Cicero, and Rep. Tim Brown, R- Crawfordsville, would collapse several pools of money schools and districts use down into three beginning for the 2018-19 school year: education, operations and debt service. Cook says the move gives schools more flexibility to control how they spend money at a local level and could lead to more money for the classroom.

Texas Tribune, 1/23/17

Texas Senate takes first step toward school finance overhaul

The current system funds Texas public school districts arbitrarily and inequitably across the state and is held together by short-term fixes that have not been revisited in decades. Educators have repeatedly asserted the funding formulas do not provide them with enough money to meet the state’s academic standards. In May, the Texas Supreme Court upheld the state’s existing funding system as constitutional, and at the same time tasked state legislators with reforming it.