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ECS Governance NotesMarch - April 2004

Governance Notes Archives


Welcome to ECS Governance Notes, a bimonthly e-mail publication with links to key information on education governance.

In this issue's guest column, Denver Board of Education Member Elaine Berman discusses the SCHOOL BOARD-SUPERINTENDENT relationship in the Denver Public Schools. She highlights the elements of good governance in this relationship as well as what the superintendent/school board team has accomplished.

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On March 22, 2004, UTAH Governor Olene Walker signed H.B. 152 into law. This bill creates the State Charter School Board, which will consist of seven members appointed by the governor and will authorize charter schools and hold them accountable for their performance. The bill also directs the State Charter School Board to grant charters to schools previously chartered by the State Board of Education.

On March 18, 2004, WASHINGTON became the 41st state (along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) to enact charter school legislation when Governor Gary Locke signed H.B. 2295 into law. This bill allows 45 charter schools to open over the next six years and emphasizes authorizing charter schools to serve educationally disadvantaged students. It also allows the state superintendent of public instruction to use the chartering process as an intervention strategy consistent with the corrective action provisions in the No Child Left Behind Act.

During their 2004 legislative session, IDAHO legislators passed S.B. 1444, which, among other things, creates a seven-member Public Charter School Commission. To be appointed by the governor, this commission will have the authority to authorize and monitor charter schools. The bill also limits new charter schools to six per year. The bill is now in front of Governor Dirk Kempthorne, who is expected to sign it.

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"High-Stakes: Findings from a National Study of Life-or-Death Decisions by Charter School Authorizers," by Bryan Hassel and Meagan Batdorff of Public Impact, aims to shed some empirical light on whether CHARTER SCHOOL AUTHORIZERS – the public bodies empowered by law to oversee charter schools – really close charter schools that are not working. Drawing on 50 randomly selected examples of charter school authorizer decisions to renew, not renew or revoke the charters of individual schools, the paper provides new information about how charter school authorizers are carrying out their responsibilities, the factors that influence their approaches, and the implications of experience to date for policies and practices related to high-stakes accountability.

In “Comparison of Achievement Results for Students Attending Privately Managed and Traditionally Managed Schools in Six Cities," the U.S. General Accounting Office finds mixed student achievement results for PRIVATELY MANAGED PUBLIC SCHOOLS. For example, scores for 5th-grade students in Denver and San Francisco were significantly higher in both reading and math in two privately managed schools than traditional schools serving similar students. Fourth-grade scores in reading and math, however, were significantly lower in a privately managed public school in Cleveland, as were 5th-grade scores in two privately managed schools in St. Paul.

In "Community Schools: Final Report on Student Performance, Parent Satisfaction and Accountability," the Ohio Legislative Office of Education Oversight (LOEO) concludes that community and traditional schools are performing similarly on proficiency tests. From LOEO's perspective, the most that can be said about the overall academic performance of COMMUNITY (CHARTER) SCHOOLS is that they are not doing better than low-performing traditional schools with similar demographic characteristics. The LOEO recommends that the Ohio General Assembly continue to support the community school initiative only if it requires the Ohio Department of Education and community school sponsors to do several things, many of which concern the gathering, monitoring and reporting of accurate data about community schools.

"Alternative-Education Programs: The 'Quiet Giant' in Minnesota Public Education" finds that ALTERNATIVE-EDUCATION programs now constitute a sizable and growing share of all public school students in Minnesota, as enrollment has increased from 4,050 students in 1988 to an estimated 180,000 students in 2001. This report, produced by Minnesota-based Education/Evolving, also finds that alternative-education programs have been highly successful in serving a population of students not served well in traditional settings.

Based on the findings of previous evaluations of CHARTER SCHOOLS in California, including a 2003 evaluation by RAND, the California Legislative Analyst's Office recently offered recommendations for improving the state's charter schools. One of the recommendations called for restructuring the charter school categorical block grant. Another suggested the state strengthen charter school oversight by permitting school districts to opt out of charter authorizing, allowing for multiple authorizers and creating safeguards to promote stronger accountability.

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As part of its "Helping States Use Chartering as a Strategy To Meet the Demands of NCLB" project, the ECS National Center on Governing America's Schools recently hosted a meeting in New York City on CHARTER DISTRICTS. At this meeting, Buffalo Board of Education President Jack Coyle and Education Innovation Consortium Chairman Donald Jacobs presented the highlights of their efforts to create a network of charter schools within the Buffalo School District.

The ECS National Center on Governing America's Schools recently completed the "State Policies for School Choice Database." From this database, you can generate profiles of the state policies for SCHOOL CHOICE in individual states, create comparisons of specific types of state policies across several states and view predetermined reports.

The ECS National Center on Governing America's Schools recently moved its "Postsecondary Governance Structures Database" into a new, easier-to-use format. From the database, you can generate profiles of individual state POSTSECONDARY GOVERNANCE STRUCTURES, compare states' postsecondary governance structures and view predetermined reports.

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Is your state struggling to meet NCLB's corrective action, school restructuring and school choice requirements and timelines? If so, send a team of three to five key state leaders – governors, governors' advisors, legislators, legislative staff, state superintendents, state department of education staff and state board of education members – to Denver on May 21. This ECS-sponsored meeting will work with state leaders examining policy options - particularly those relating to charter schools - that answer this high-stakes question and more.

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To read more about Education Governance, visit the ECS Issue Site on Governance.


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