Monthly Archives

November 2021

A tool to keep you updated on school closures nationwide

By News

Want to track K-12 school openings and closures nationwide? Check out the online school opening tracker on Burbio. The platform provides a variety of visual tools for capturing data on school operations. Here’s the latest table from Burbio, tracking closures over time:

Source: Burbio, “School Opening Tracker”

School closures rising nationwide

A new article from The 74 notes that school closures are increasing across the country. This was true even before last week, when reports of the Omicron variant became widespread. Reasons for closures include viral outbreaks, staff shortages, and more. North Carolina is the state hit the hardest by school closures, writes The 74:

“The numbers suggest that nearly 10 percent of the nation’s roughly 98,000 K-12 schools have experienced closures this year. In Maryland, more than 3 in 10 schools have been affected by at least one day of disruption this academic year. In North Carolina, where such events have been most frequent, the number is above 4 in 10.”

Burbio also tracks mask policies by state. Learn more here.

Charter schools and inequitable access to facilities

By News

In this post, we share news from a federal General Accounting Office report about charter schools and facilities. Bottom line: charter schools face numerous challenges when it comes to finding facilities and funding them.

Kim McCabe, senior director of communications at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, has written an excellent blog post about the report. One school, she writes, could “not grow its middle school programs because they did not have enough space—even though the district had a suitable facility available. The report noted that school districts will sometimes designate extra facilities as ‘swing space’ rather than make them available to charter schools.”

A federal entity affirms charter challenges

GAO identified four key challenges for charter schools:

  • Limited access to state/local funding and affordable private loans
  • Limited access to buildings and amenities
  • Inconsistent local support for facility needs
  • Limited capacity for managing facilities

Read about these challenges in the GAO report here.

Even some leaders don’t know the facts on charters

By News
We routinely emphasize the need to state the facts about charter schools. Public debate and dialogue about education often include misinformation or misrepresentation about what charter schools are and do. Sometimes, even our leaders don’t know the facts.

Charter schools discussed on the House Floor

Last week, that reality was clear–on the floor of the NC House of Representatives. We provide a clip below from Rep. Reives, in which he says:
“We’ve got to invest in all of our people. We talk about school choice a lot up here. But it stops being a choice when the public education system isn’t working any more. Once that happens, there isn’t a choice. There is the–‘I can afford to pay for a charter or private school, or I have to go to this school that doesn’t work’ …”

But … charter schools are public and free!

We couldn’t agree more with Rep. Reives about investing in all people! But, as we know, charter schools are public and free–just like district schools. Charter schools are open to all, and no family pays tuition!
You’ll hear more from us in 2022 as we engage in a focused campaign to share the full facts about charters.
Watch the clip:
“Public and free:
Charter facts even our leaders don’t know”
Public and free: Charter facts even our leaders don't know

Check out the STOP Award Semi-finalists!

By News

In recent weeks, we’ve shared information about the STOP Award. Sponsored by the Center for Education Reform, this award celebrates education innovation–during the pandemic– with underserved students and families.

STOP Award Semi-Finalists

CER has announced 20 semi-finalists. They include district schools, charter schools, private schools, community groups, and more. All continued to serve students and families in ingenious and creative ways, even as the pandemic took hold.

While no NC charters made the list, school semifinalist videos are still worth watching! Take a look for ideas about how to create a video showcasing your school.

Highlighting charter standouts

For instance, Catalyst Academy Public Charter School in Pittsburgh opened up a learning center in a closed hotel when building renovations were delayed.

Friendship Public Charter School in Washington, DC deployed technology and mobile hotspots, and created a learning center during COVID.

Zeta Charter Schools re-opened for in-person learning before any other elementary school in New York City. Ultimately, Zeta served as a model for other schools, launching a school re-opening blog, pushing academic growth, providing social-emotional supports remotely, holding outdoor magic and music shows for students, and more. The Wall Street Journal profiled Zeta’s efforts.

Learn about all of the semifinalists here. CER will announce the winner in January 2022.

New guidance from Sup. Truitt on OSHA’s vaccine standard

By News
On Monday evening, Superintendent Truitt provided new guidance to schools regarding OSHA’s “vaccine-or-test” Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). She sent guidance in a letter to superintendents and district HR directors.
Sup. Truitt issued the guidance in light of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent decision to extend its stay of the ETS. Sup. Truitt encouraged schools to prepare for implementation of the standard, but noted that compliance is not required until litigation is resolved.
She wrote:
“We are unsure how this legal dispute will unfold, or how quickly the case will move through the process.
“I realize many of you are trying to plan ahead, and while we wait for the litigation to proceed, DPI continues to advise that districts develop their written policy for compliance and consider plans for tracking vaccination status as well as testing for those not vaccinated. However, until pending litigation is resolved in the higher courts, districts are not required to comply with the vaccine-or-test Emergency Temporary Standard. As always, we recommend you consider speaking with your district counsel.”

Lawmakers release the biennium budget, with votes coming this week

By News

State lawmakers released their compromise budget yesterday. They are expected to vote on the budget this week. View the conference committee report.

Big budget news for charter schools

The budget includes big news for charter schools. For instance, it holds public school units harmless for drops in 2021-22 enrollment. A press release from Senator Berger outlines additional budget highlights, which include:

  • “A 5% pay raise for most state employees and an average 5% pay raise for teachers over the biennium.

  • A $2,800 bonus to most teachers using federal funds.

  • [An] additional $1.5 billion above the base budget over the biennium in recurring funds for K-12 education.”

Be on the lookout for an invitation to a Legislative Update from the Coalition’s Government Relations Team.

Read more about the budget from EdNC.

Register your school for the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee

By News

It isn’t too late to register your charter school for the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Give your school’s super spellers in grades 3-8 a chance to showcase their skills!

In this post, we share important dates and details for charter schools.

Steps for charter schools

First, charter schools should register for the bee. Access the Scripps enrollment portal here. Then, schools should hold a school-wide bee. Schools can do this in-person, online, or using a hybrid approach.

Next, schools should submit information about the school winner (and alternate). School winners then participate in a “district-level” bee, held via Zoom. That winner moves on to the regional bee, hosted by the Carolina Panthers. The regional bee will take place at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. The top four finishers from the regional bee qualify for the national competition.

Important dates

  • The deadline for schools to register is December 31, 2022. Registration is $175.
  • The “district-level” Zoom bees for NC charter school champions take place on February 14, 2022.
  • The regional bee is held in March 2022.
  • The 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee will be held Memorial Day Week in 2022 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Click here to learn more about the Carolina Panthers Regional Bee. Watch the video below to learn more about the Scripps National Bee.

Superintendent Truitt calls for action on the budget

By News

Yesterday, State Superintendent Catherine Truitt released a letter to state leaders, urging action on the budget. Addressed to Governor Cooper, Senate Leader Berger, and House Speaker Moore, the letter outlined significant potential impacts to K-12 programs if leaders cannot agree on a budget.

Possible program impacts

For instance, without a new budget, some program costs will shift to local districts and schools. Other programs could end entirely.  Sup. Truitt cited impacts to DPI’s electronic licensure system, the Student Information System, and more. More than 150 schools, including many public charter schools, will lose funding for basic wireless in classrooms, she said.

Waiting for resolution brings its own costs.

Sup. Truitt wrote:

“While I understand that negotiations continue to play out, I want to make it clear that the Department of Public Instruction–and NC’s K-12 education system at large–is facing considerable obstacles while we wait in limbo.”

Read more about Sup. Truitt’s letter from WRAL.

Giving parents their say means choice in education

By News

Nina Rees, the president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, has an excellent op-Ed out this week. Her commentary, published in USA Today, notes how important it is to listen to parents’ voices in education. Rees writes:

“Schools are often regarded as the center of our society, and never has that been more true than now. Issues of health, safety, social justice, economics and infrastructure intersect at the schoolhouse door. With so many different perspectives, who should we listen to? I say we should listen to parents.”

Listen to parents by giving them choices

Providing parents with choice in education is a key way to listen and engage. Given the choice, many parents are choosing public charter schools for their children. Reasons vary, but the evidence shows that charter schools excel at the main thing: providing children with an excellent education.

For instance, Rees cites a 2020 study from Danish Shakeel and Paul Peterson of Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance. The study tracked long-term performance trends of district and charter schools between 2005 and 2017. The authors write about their findings:

“The average gains by 4th- and 8th-grade charter students are approximately twice as large as those by students in district schools, a difference of a half-year’s worth of learning.”

African American students and low-income students were among those making the “steepest gains” at charter schools, the study found. Read more about the study in Education Next.

Engage nationally: Apply for the US DoE’s School Ambassador Fellowship

By News

Are you interested in working to boost student outcomes? Broadening your professional network? Engaging in education policy discussions at the national level?

School Ambassador Fellowship

If so, consider applying for the School Ambassador Fellowship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.  Fellows contribute their hands-on expertise and help develop national education policy. They also join an engaging professional network. Fellows choose from full- or part-time pathways.

Read the program overview here.


Teachers, school leaders, and staff with at least five years of experience are eligible to apply. Applicants may work in public district, public charter, private, military, or tribal K-12 schools. Learn more about program eligibility here.

Meet the 2021-22 Fellows.

The application for the 2022-23 program closes at 11:59 pm on January 14, 2022.