Monthly Archives

October 2021

Charter schools face inequities with facilities funding

By News

Looking for an easy way to share the challenges public charter schools face with their facilities?

A new video out this fall from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools addresses the charter school facilities challenge. When it comes to facilities funding, charter schools are not treated fairly or equitably. Find the video here or click below to watch.


As the video notes, charter schools spend 10% more of their budget on facilities than other public schools; many charter school buildings do not have gymnasiums, libraries, or science labs.

Share the video–and help others understand why we need fair funding for public charter schools.

Declining college enrollment in the U.S.–recent trends and findings

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New U.S. Census data point to declining school enrollment in the U.S. between 2019 and 2020. In fact, college enrollment in 2020 was the lowest it has been since 2007. According to the Census Bureau, the bulk of the drop-off occurred at two-year community colleges, “which had their lowest enrollment levels in 20 years.”

Here’s the screenshot figure from the Census Bureau showing long-term trend lines:

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Access the U.S. Census Bureau release here. Find detailed enrollment tables here.

Men are disproportionately choosing to forego college. A recent editorial from USA Today‘s Editorial Board says it’s time to try and understand why.

In September, reporter Douglas Belkin examined this college enrollment trend in The Wall Street Journal: “A Generation of American Men Give Up on College: ‘I Just Feel Lost.'” Belkin cited numbers from the National Student Clearinghouse, which show that at the end of 2020-21, nearly 60% of college students were women; men, on the other hand, made up around 40% of college enrollments. He also notes that compared to five years earlier, colleges enrolled 1.5 million fewer students–with men accounting for 71% of the drop-off.

Why NAEP scores declined: Fordham’s Michael Petrilli weighs in

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New NAEP scores, released this month, revealed declines in both reading and math among 13-year-olds. Compared to 2012, reading scores dropped 3 points; math scores declined 5 points.

NAEP, or the National Assessment of Educational Progress, is widely know as “The Nation’s Report Card.” New scores are from NAEP’s long-term trend assessments.

Why have the scores declined?

Keep in mind these scores reflect pre-pandemic learning. To what should we attribute the downturn? While acknowledging that no one really knows, Michael Petrilli, the president of the Fordham Institute and executive editor of Education Next, presents a theory. The Great Recession may be to blame, he says. Here’s his take:

The thirteen-year-olds who took the Long Term Trend exam in January 2020 would have been babies when the economy started falling apart in 2007. Parents were thrown out of work. Many families were thrown into poverty. And the hardship was deep and long lasting. It would have been a miracle had such shocks not had a negative impact on the academic and non-cognitive development of these children.

Challenges from the pandemic will compound learning difficulties. So, what will it take to turn things around? Petrilli writes:

Changing the course of history for this cohort of kids is the challenge at hand today. Accelerating student learning will take commitment, smarts, and the political will to invest federal relief funds strategically. A decade ago, it’s now pretty clear to me, we failed to rise to the challenge in the wake of the Great Recession. Let us not repeat the same mistakes again.


Update on congressional legislation threatening charter funding

By News
We wanted to provide you with an update on H.R. 4502. You may recall that the U.S. House of Representatives passed this legislation over the summer, and it includes a provision that threatens federal funding for charter schools. For a refresher on H.R. 4502, see the Charter Chatter we sent out at the end of July.

The latest on H.R. 4502 and arguments about “for-profit” charters

The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate in August. It has not moved since that time. Meanwhile, charter advocates are continuing to push back on “for-profit” arguments about charter schools, noting that they are misleading and must stop.
Read an excellent new op-ed from Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. She notes:

“Charter schools are always public schools and prioritize the learning needs of every student. As such, we take exception to the term ‘for-profit’ charter schools. It is misleading …

Many have questioned whether a public charter school that contracts with a management company should receive federal funding. The answer is clear: Charter school students are public school students and deserve fair access to federally funded programs intended to support them.”

A deeper dive on state reading results

By News
A majority of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders were not proficient on state reading tests last year. Those worrisome findings, shared with NC State Board of Education members last week, came from the 2020-21 Read to Achieve Data Report. Such findings are not for accountability purposes, since that was waived due to the pandemic. Instead, findings are intended to help educators deploy resources for this 2021-22 school year.

Here’s how the numbers stacked up

First graders:
  • 38.5% read at grade level
  • 61.5% did not read at grade level
Second graders:
  • 43.1% read at grade level
  • 56.9% did not read at grade level
Overall, less than one-third of 1st and 2nd grade students who were eligible for priority enrollment in reading camp attended.

Source: Presentation to the State Board of Education from Amy Rhyne, Director of the Office of Early Learning at the NC Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI)

Third graders:
  • 43.7% were proficient on the Beginning-of-Grade (BOG) ELA/Reading Test, the End-of-Grade (EOG) ELA/Reading Test, or the EOG ELA/Reading Re-test.
  • 56.3% were not proficient on any of the above tests.

Overall, slightly less than half (46.3%) of 3rd graders who were eligible for priority enrollment in reading camp attended.

Source: NC DPI

State Superintendent Catherine Truitt said, “Those numbers are really hard to hear … We must change this trajectory and we must use science and data to do it.”
Find the presentation here. Learn more about the new reading data from EdNC.

Apply for student fellowships through the Bill of Rights Institute

By News
In this post, you can find information about the Bill of Rights Institute‘s inaugural Student Fellowship. BRI describes the fellowship as a “year-round educational program that helps students develop their skills in building civil society.”

Program purpose and details

The Fellowship is open to high school juniors and seniors, ages 15 to 18. BRI will choose 10 students to participate in 2021-22. Programming begins in November and runs through June. What will the program entail? BRI notes:

“The fellowship includes a curriculum of learning and dialogue in the great ideas of leadership and citizenship and will provide opportunities for published writing and media exposure.”
The Fellowship will culminate in a weekend in Washington, DC (paid for by scholarship). Find the program flyer with FAQs here. Interested students should apply by October 28th. Questions? Contact Rachel Davison Humphries at

STOP award deadline extended until October 31

By News
In this post, we share an important update about the Center for Education Reform‘s new STOP Award. This award seeks to “honor education providers that continued to perform for underserved families during COVID.” Innovative providers may apply for this prize valued at $1 million.

STOP application timeline extended

CER has extended the application deadline for this award!  So, you have more time to apply.

Click on the image from CER to visit the award site.

Visit the award site to learn more. Email or call 202.750.0016 with any questions.
The application window now closes on Sunday, October 31st.

2021 YRBS participation is voluntary, not mandatory

By News
In this post, we share important clarification about the 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. YRBS administration is taking place between September and December 2021 in schools across the state. Survey findings are expected to inform policy and program decisions.

Schools: YRBS participation is voluntary

Schools should know, however, that YRBS participation is voluntary, not mandatory. Such autonomy was clarified in a September 24 statement about the YRBS from the Department of Public Instruction. In addition, the statement encouraged schools to provide parents with timely notification so they could decide whether or not to opt their children out of the survey.
Karen Fairley, Executive Director of the Center for Safer Schools at DPI, wrote:
“Although schools are randomly selected with consideration that, collectively, reflect the demographics of the state, schools have the choice to not participate in the survey.
“We appreciate that some of the questions in the survey may be considered sensitive, overly probing, or not in alignment with everyone’s values, perspectives, or beliefs … [It] is important that schools notify parents in a timely manner, allowing parents the ability to determine if they want their children to opt-out of participating in the survey.”

Learn more

  • Find the middle school survey here and the high school survey here.
  • Access national questionnaires from the CDC here.