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Fordham Institute to Host Discussion Aimed at Empowering Parents

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The Thomas B. Fordham Institute and GreatSchools have joined forces to host a discussion to determine what steps parents and policymakers can take to inform parents about the variety of school choice options they have for their children.

The panel discussion will be held Nov. 19 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Washington, D.C., offices of the Fordham Institute, a charter advocate and think tank. The event also will be webcast live online. Bill Jackson, the founder and chief executive officer of GreatSchools will kick off the event which features Damon Gardenhire, a senior program officer for the Walton Family Foundation, and Chad Aldis, vice president for Ohio policy and advocacy at the Fordham Institute. (The Walton Family Foundation provides support to Education Week for coverage of parent-empowerment issues.)

Through its website, GreatSchools, a San Francisco-based national nonprofit, posts online profiles of public and private K-12 schools. In recent years, the website has expanded those profiles to include more detailed test score and demographic data for parents. 

However, parents searching for accurate and reliable information about traditional public schools, charter schools, and private schools may be facing potential roadblocks from groups with competing interests.

Recently, I wrote a blog about a new website developed by the Ohio Education Association and a Columbus, Ohio-based think tank that allows parents and taxpayers to compare charter schools with traditional public school districts, while highlighting what the site's developers described as the "financial impact charters are having on particular school districts." Both the union and Innovation Ohio, the think tank, have been critical of the state's charter schools.

The site drew immediate criticism from charter proponents, including the Fordham Institute's Aldis, who said the site "misinformed" the public by omitting information and drawing unfair comparisons. 

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