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Charters & Choice News Roundup: Bill Gates and Swedish Imports

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Are we lemmings following Sweden over the education reform cliff? Have we sold our souls to billionaire reformers? This week's news roundup features some soul searching articles on where K-12 education improvement efforts are going as well as stories on the gritty details of school choice, like how to provide transportation for private schools and facilities for charters.

Should we be importing Swedish education programs? The Economist checks it out...

Under a new law, some Florida parents opt to home school their children with special needs with the state's backing...

"People got caught up in the policy drama and forgot there are real human beings involved in this debate," a school voucher advocate tells The Miami Herald in an article about the state's new school choice program that is now at the center of a couple of lawsuits backed by the statewide teachers' union. The program awards families with high special-needs children money that parents can use toward homeschooling expenses.

Public transportation for private education ... The Montgomery County district in Maryland is giving private schoolchildren a ride on its public school buses—all in the name of easing traffic.

"Tobias Harkleroad, principal at St. Francis, said the buses will be a huge improvement because of the school's location, [which is near] chronically clogged New Hampshire Avenue just south of the Beltway in eastern Montgomery. 'Anyone who knows this part of the county knows it's a nightmare in terms of traffic,'" Harkleroad told The Washington Post.

The other achievement gap—this one between money and results... 

"This hit-or-miss attitude—let's try this, let's try that—has been a hallmark of school reform efforts in recent years. The experiments trotted out by the big-money crowd have been all over the map," laments former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert over Bill Gates' "outsized" influence on public education in an opinion piece for Politico.

In the next installment of the New York City charter school saga ... Success Academy—whose rapid expansion has sparked fights with the mayor over finding space for the schools—is granted 14 more charters, as reported by Chalkbeat New York:

But friction isn't always inevitable ... a Los Angeles education news site looks at how a charter school and district school are working out their 'arranged marriages' without much help from the district:

"For as long as we can see into the horizon, unless there's some significant change, this is an issue that we have, and we might as well figure out how to get better at it," the head of the charter school told The LA School Report.

Coming up next week, I'll have a story looking at other kinds of district and charter school collaborations. And as always, if you have an idea for next week's roundup, tweet me @ChartersNChoice.

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