January 12, 2022

Parents Shopping for New Schools Ahead of SY 2022-2023
According to the results of a national survey released Monday by National School Choice Week, 51.7 percent of U.S. parents already have or are planning to switch at least one of their kids’ schools. Among the 48.3 percent of parents who haven’t switched or aren’t currently shopping, 18 percent expect to start searching for new schooling options in advance of the 2022-23 school year. Parents cited better education quality and poor response to COVID-19 as their top reasons for the upheaval. Notably, 62 percent of Black parents and 59 percent of Hispanic or Latino parents indicated that they considered or are considering new schools, compared with 47 percent of white parents. The census-balanced survey of 2,715 parents of school-aged children aged 5-18, conducted January 3-6, 2022, indicated intense parent interest in school choice, with 31 percent of parents responding that they would consider a public charter school as their child’s new education destination. PR Newswire, Parent Demand for School Choice Surges, Yahoo Finance, January 10, 2021
Initial Focus is on Southern U.S.
Charlotte, North Carolina-based Movement Mortgage announced last week that it is investing $100 million into its public charter school network and expanding the concept across the country. The investment is a part of the mortgage lender’s plan to build 100 new public charter schools through its foundation over the next ten years, beginning in cities like Atlanta, Houston and Dallas. It has already received state approval to open three new schools in North Carolina this year. All three schools’ applications target serving economically disadvantaged students, and because of the demands of the pandemic, they will accelerate to open in August 2022.  

Movement Mortgage was founded by former Carolina Panthers tight end Casey Crawford in 2008. The company’s foundation is its largest shareholder. It uses its dividends to build its network of public charter schools, the first of which opened in 2017. Movement Schools are intentionally located in underserved communities. “We believe that education is a critical conduit to break cycles of generational poverty,” Crawford said. T. Keung Hui, New Charter Schools Have Been Approved to Open in 2022 in Raleigh and Charlotte, The Charlotte News & Observer, January 10, 2021; Hannah Lang, 100 New Charter Schools to Open Nationwide, Founded by Charlotte’s Movement Mortgage, The Charlotte Observer, December 17, 2022

$15 Million for Nevada Charter School Construction Fund
Nevada state officials plan to use the $75 million in its State Infrastructure Bank to support public charter schools, among other projects. State infrastructure banks generally run as state-operated revolving funds (meaning any loans and interest are reinvested) that offer direct loans or credit enhancement products to help with infrastructure projects. Nevada’s infrastructure bank was created in 2017, but it did not receive funding until the 2021 legislative session, when the bank was restructured to expand eligibility for financing different projects through the passage of SB430 and seeded with general obligation bonds. The proposed allocations — including up to $15 million for a public charter school development and construction fund  — were detailed at a Wednesday bank board meeting. Nevada charter schools do not have access to facilities funding from the state, and construction for charter schools is typically funded by private sources. The proposed guidelines for borrowers of the bank would require qualified borrowers to be a governmental unit, an Indian reservation, or a private nonprofit. Those borrowers would be allowed to partner with another private entity under the proposed rules. Sean Golonka, State Infrastructure Bank’s Priorities Include Housing, Charter Schools, The Nevada Independent, January 5, 2022

After 25 Years, Charter School Secures its Facility
The Urban Academy of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School last week closed on a $12.5 million municipal bond that will allow it to own the Larimer building where it houses its operations. The public charter school, which had been leasing the 36,500-square-foot building, said it had worked for months to secure the bond to help it purchase the space from The School Builders, a subsidiary of E Properties and Development. The funding will also allow the academy to build a second school building for grades 3-5, new parking lots, outdoor learning space, and a community resource center.

The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh founded the public charter school in 1997, and it has since served more than 2,500 children in grades K-5 in Allegheny County. The Pittsburgh Public Schools board renewed the Urban Academy’s charter for another five years in October. Andrew Goldstein, Urban Academy Secures $12.5M Bond to Buy Larimer Building, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 20, 2021

Hard-Left Lawmaker's Motives Utterly Transparent
In 2013, State Senator John Liu was disgraced by a major financial scandal during his losing campaign for mayor of New York. He was fined and two of his staffers were convicted. However, in 2018, he pulled off an unlikely political comeback with intense help from the teachers union and far-left “True Blue New York” campaign organization. Apparently that bill has come due.

Liu sponsored legislation just passed out of the state Senate Education Committee that would strip the State University of New York’s (SUNY) authority to authorize public charter schools. That would leave the New York State Board of Regents as the state’s sole decision maker over public charter school applications and renewals.

Former Governor George Pataki in 1998 signed the bill that gave SUNY authority to authorize charters along with the Regents. Pataki recognized that the Regents, appointed by New York's State Assembly Speaker, who is invariably aligned with teachers unions, might be slow to approve new public charters.

“I wanted to make sure there was an alternative to elected politicians beholden to the teachers’ unions to authorize charter schools,” Pataki, considered the father of the state’s charter school movement, said on Monday.

Liu said he expects his revision to the public charter school law to pass the Senate after it cleared the Education Committee on Monday. Assembly Education Committee Chairman Michael Benedetto (D-Bronx) will carry the measure in that legislative body. Carl Campanile, Proposed Law Would Strip SUNY’s Authority to OK New Charter Schools in New York, The New York Post, January 10, 2022; Kristen Conley, John Liu is Planning a Political Comeback, The New York Post, July 6, 2018

Judge Grants Teachers Union's Petition for Injunction
A West Virginia law designed to accelerate public charter school growth in that state is on hold after a judge granted an injunction blocking the law. Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Bailey granted two teachers union members’ petition for a preliminary injunction to block further implementation of House Bill 2012. The bill created the Professional Charter School Board as one of four authorizers for charter school applications in the state. The board approved applications in November for three brick-and-mortar public charter schools and two statewide virtual public charter schools. Those schools are slated to open during the next school year and have several statutory deadlines over the next several months to complete certain tasks but, as a result of the injunction, they are unable to move forward. 

Speaking Monday, the judge said there is “no question” that public charter schools violate Article 12, Section 10, of the West Virginia Constitution, which states that “independent free school district(s)” cannot be created without the consent of the school district or voters in that district. West Virginia’s Attorney General is expected to appeal the ruling. Steven Allen Adams, Ruling Blocks Opening of Public Charter Schools in West Virginia, The Weirton Daily Times, December 22, 2021


Swapping Reactionary Punishment With Emotionally Intelligent Intervention 
At Cirrus Academy, a K to 8 public charter school in Macon, Georgia, Superintendent Dr. Gail Fowler noticed that in-school suspensions (ISS) were not working. Dr. Fowler says of ISS, “It was punitive, regardless of what you were suspended for.”  ISS is a common disciplinary tool in both traditional and public charter schools, whereby students are permitted to attend school but are prohibited from participating in all non-academic activities, including sitting with peers at lunch. Because ISS clearly wasn’t meeting her students’ emotional needs, Dr. Fowler created “Eagles Bridge Academy” (EBA) within Cirrus Academy as a holistic alternative.

EBA provides positive behavior interventions that promote change and encourage the development of students’ potential. The goal is to help students manage emotional or behavioral crises, whether in school, at home, or in the community. Cirrus’ EBA team - including a coordinator, a counselor, a R.N., and a nutritionist - focus on education, human behavior, mental processes, and giving students the tools and resources that they need to thrive. Tools include progress monitoring, wellness days, movement days, meditation days, and other focal points that aren’t necessarily academic, but impact academic performance.

Dr. Fowler says student outcomes are improving faster than they were with ISS. Given the many cracks in the education system that COVID has now turned into chasms, she would like to see other schools consider and adopt the model. To read the entire article by School Improvement Partnership’s Dominic De Leo, click here.
School Improvement Partnership improves transparency and accountability in the charter school bond market. The School Improvement Partnership Database (or SIP Database) contains financial, academic and operating data on charter schools and charter school borrowers around the country. It is being built out to include all charter schools and charter school borrowers in the coming months. From each financial audit for a CMO or charter school, the SIP Database contains 50 financial data points, always refreshing automatically to include the three most recent years. The SIP Database has a dashboard for subscribers that displays requested data points in an easy-to read-fashion, and such data can be exported in Excel from the SIP Database to the subscriber. Please view our website or call us at 215.854.6322.
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