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Push For Charters Underway in Kentucky

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Around the country, charter school news has been top of mind this week. Here's a quick rundown of some of the major charter school headlines over the past couple of days.

• A pro-charter op-ed written by Nina Rees, the president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and Joe Williams, the president of the Democrats for Education Reform appeared in the Courier-Journal today. The editorial kicked off a campaign to pass a charter school law in Kentucky with help from both of those organizations as well as the Black Alliance for Educational Options and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Representatives from the organizations and the two congressmen appeared in Louisville today in a webcast campaign launch. Kentucky is one of eight states in the United States that currently does not have a charter law in place. The newly formed Kentucky Charter Schools Association will be spearheading the campaign.

An investigation by the Washington Post has found that teachers in charter schools in the District of Columbia earn significantly less than regular public school teachers there.

While the starting salary for DC public schools is about $51,000, more than two dozen charter schools in the city start teachers at less than $43,000. But some charter school teachers say that the professional development opportunities and autonomy they experience in charters make the lower pay worth it.

• The National Education Policy Center has a critique of the recently released study by Stanford's Center for Research on Education Outcomes about charter schools in Louisiana. The critique focuses mostly on CREDO's findings for charter schools in New Orleans, asserting that it's extremely difficult to create appropriate comparison groups in a city whose population was undergoing dramatic changes at the time of the study (The CREDO report examined data from 2005-06, immediately following Hurricane Katrina, to 2010-11). The NEPC also criticized the CREDO study because of its virtual control method, which it says is problematic.

The CREDO study found that, on average, charter school students in New Orleans far outpaced their regular public school peers, gaining an additional four months of learning in reading and five additional months of learning in math.

• Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released a scathing audit of the state's largest brick-and-mortar charter school, the Chester Community Charter School, finding that the school has received nearly $1.3 million in improper state lease reimbursements from 2008 to 2011 among other administrative problems.

The audit concluded that the school was not using highly qualified special education teachers (as stipulated under the No Child Left Behind Act), inaccurately reporting enrollment data, improperly recording and documenting charter school board meeting minutes, and failing to offer retirement plans to teachers as required by state charter school law, among other infractions.

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