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ECS Governance NotesJanuary - February 2003

Governance Notes Archives


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

In November 2002, Florida citizens voted on three constitutional amendments concerning education, including one that amends the state's ever-changing GOVERNANCE SYSTEM FOR POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION. In this column, Adam Herbert provides an informative recap of the election and raises a number of important questions about the implications of the results.

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On January 7, 2003, OHIO Governor Bob Taft signed into law H.B. 364, which contains several changes to Ohio's community school, or charter school, law. Perhaps most significantly, it removes the authority to sponsor charter schools from the state board of education, and instead allows local school boards, vocational education districts, educational service centers and qualified nonprofit corporations to authorize charter schools, with the approval of the state department of education.

In COLORADO, state policymakers are debating H.B. 1137. Among other things, the bill allows an income-tax credit to any taxpayer who makes a contribution to a nonprofit organization to be used for scholarships to low-income students to attend a nonpublic school.

In TEXAS, state leaders are considering H.B. 293, which creates a public education voucher pilot program in the state. Under this bill, educationally disadvantaged students in the six largest school districts in the state are eligible to receive vouchers to attend an accredited private school.

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According to "Strengthening Pennsylvania's CHARTER SCHOOL Reform: Findings from the Statewide Evaluation and Discussion of Relevant Policy Issues," student achievement appears to be a source of modest strength for the state's charter schools, although the picture is complex. On the one hand, charter school students usually score considerably lower than the typical public school in the state. The typical charter school, however, is gaining ground against demographically and geographically similar noncharter public schools.

A new report by the U.S. General Accounting Office reviews the existing data for three FOR-PROFIT EDUCATION MANAGEMENT COMPANIES operating in the District of Columbia -- Edison Schools, Mosaica Education and Chancellor Beacon Academies. The report finds that little is known about the effectiveness of these companies' programs on student achievement, parental satisfaction, parental involvement or school climate because few rigorous studies have been conducted.

"Creating Excellence for All Students: Transforming Education in Los Angeles" recommends that the Los Angeles Alliance for Student Achievement, a group of educators, business leaders and civic leaders, develop strong community support, in partnership with the district, for the creation of a NETWORK OF NEW CHARTER SCHOOLS in the Los Angeles Unified School District over the next 8-10 years.

In "Toward Success at Scale" Tom Vander Ark of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation explores some basic but difficult questions about the public education system: What should success look like? How will success be achieved? How should the system work? And he examines a variety of strategies for GOVERNING public education systems to achieve the goal of helping all students achieve at high levels.

According to a report by the California State Auditor's Office, the state's four CHARTERING ENTITIES do not ensure that their charter schools operate in a manner consistent with their charters. The study recommends that the state legislature amend the state's charter school law to clarify and strengthen the chartering entities' oversight role and responsibilities.

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The ECS National Center on Governing America's Schools recently completed "The Roles and Responsibilities of SCHOOL BOARDS and SUPERINTENDENTS: A State Policy Framework," which proposes that state leaders enact policies that create clearer, more specific responsibilities for school boards and superintendents. It also recommends that state leaders create task forces charged with identifying the laws, rules and regulations that may help or impede school boards and superintendents in their efforts to improve student achievement.

The ECS National Center on Governing America's Schools recently updated its policy brief on "SYSTEMS OF INDEPENDENTLY OPERATED SCHOOLS: The State of the Field." This report examines the various ways in which states and districts are creating systems of independently operated schools -- also referred to as charter districts or all-charter districts.

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The ECS National Center on Governing America's Schools will host the third meeting of the ALL-CHARTER DISTRICT Network on March 6 and 7, 2003, in Denver, Colorado. This group of national, state and district leaders will discuss the various ways that states and districts are creating charter districts or all-charter districts in the early days of this movement.

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


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