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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Charter schools in the news

(students from the Noble Network participate in Earth Hour)

If you're tired of reading about the dreaded swine flu, then look no further. Take a peek at this week's charter school news stories, from Illinois and beyond:

Parents, schools must work together Chicago Tribune
Parents of more than 15,000 students are signed up on the waiting list for charter public schools, which produce higher graduation rates, higher achievement levels and higher attendance than comparison schools. Yet the cap on charters remains in place. These startling statistics declare loudly that we are failing terribly at educating our students in Illinois, which Duncan knows all too well.

Teacher earns award with recycling project Chi-Town Daily News
Other Kohl McCormick award winners in Chicago were Elizabeth Goss, a second-grade teacher at Legacy Charter School; Camia Hoard, first-grade teacher at Frazier Preparatory Academy; and Lourdes Molina, a bilingual-preschool teacher at Belmont Cragin Early Childhood Center.

Charter school cap, safety measures top lawmaker’s talk Rockford Register Star
Rockford recently had three charter proposals approved by the Illinois State Board of Education, and two more are pending. Only five more charter licenses remain for the state. School Board member David Kelley said he would like to see the state raise the cap, if not remove it…

State Should Meet Demand For Charter Schools Worcester Business Journal
Having appointed Chicago's top educator and charter school champion Arne Duncan as his Secretary of Education, the president is putting his money where his ...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Huberman and Chicago charter school accountability

We appreciate the focus of the recent Chicago Sun-Times article by Rosalind Rossi titled “Ron Huberman: Raising the Bar on Charter Schools," which shined light on a matter of great concern to charter public school -- performance metrics. This is an important issue, and one that will continue to pop up in the education sphere again and again. In fact, a NY Times article today addressed a similar NCLB concern. Upon taking a closer look, you'll see that evaluation metrics for charters go above and beyond traditional school standards. Even before the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act, charter public schools were tied to student performance and additional levels of accountability. In fact, the ability to implement academic innovation is linked to charter schools’ freedom to adapt to student needs and quickly act on them.

Unlike NCLB, which relies on “adequate yearly performance” as its main metric, charter schools have multiple metrics built into their accountability frame, including governance, budgetary, curricular, instructional and student performance. In Illinois, charter schools have been closed if they don’t meet these benchmarks. Imagine a traditional school administrator being dismissed for student performance or their financial stewardship. It’s hard to imagine traditional school systems being regularly evaluated in such a rigorous way.

Even with such rigorous metrics in place, Chicago charter schools are meeting AYP at much higher rates than traditional Chicago public schools: 50% to 34%, according to the CPS Office of Research, Evaluation and Accountability. Charter schools welcome accountability and our schools are always working on ways to measure and improve quality. But in Illinois, tests used by the state do not measure for student growth, aptitude and capabilities – all of which are important aspects of NCLB.

Don't you think we need to present the whole picture when it comes to Illinois children?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

State and national organizations challenge the AFT to put kids first

Charter schools are certainly garnering a lot of media attention lately, due partially to the fact that President Obama has made it clear that support for charter public schools has the potential to make a substantial, long-term difference in the lives of their students. Also, today, a Wall Street Journal article was published that highlights the demand for charter schools around the U.S. Illinois is facing the same issue, and is clearly active in the national conversation about education reform.

INCS and the charter community have long been actively engaged in making the Illinois charter voice loud and clear in the midst of all this activity. In fact, yesterday, INCS and the National Association of Public Charter Schools teamed up to create a print advertisement in major Springfield newspapers, which can be viewed here. The print ad calls on the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten to take bold action by supporting the growth of charter public schools. We’ve done this to help Illinois meet President Obama’s call to reform charter public school education laws and allow for the addition of charter schools in districts where they are needed. Weingarten has supported the opening of charter public schools in New York City because she's aware of the benefits that they provide. However, her AFT local affiliate, the Chicago Teachers Union, has stood in the way of opening additional charter public schools. Currently, more than 13,000 families are waiting for the chance to attend a charter public school. In Illinois, far too much time is spent debating the qualifications of charter public school teachers, or attacking the charter school model. This is a disservice to our students. Instead, time should be spent reviewing and reproducing the educational excellence and academic achievements that charter schools provide.

The President and the Secretary of Education realize that our future depends on the investment we make in children today. We’re ready to support these sons of Illinois. Will the AFT do the same?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Welcome to the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) blog!

As the collective voice of the Illinois charter school movement, it is vital that we continue our educational focus of putting the needs of children first and offering families the best possible options in public education. With these goals in mind, INCS had decided to launch this new blog on our website. The INCS Blog will allow us to share our position on education policies and comment on breaking news in the charter school movement. Most of all, we want to engage YOU in the important conversations that relate to your schools and education in general. We’ll be posting twice a week, usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so be sure to bookmark us. We hope you will join us as we make this exciting transition and we look forward to hearing from you!

All comments will be posted at the discretion of INCS.