Celebrating School Choice Week: Charter Public Schools

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Today marks the beginning of National School Choice Week, an annual celebration of the variety of high-quality academic options available to families across the U.S. Each day this week at Pioneer Institute, we’ll be highlighting charter public schools, the METCO program, digital learning, vocational-technical schools, and independent and parochial schools.

We kick off the week with video clips and op-eds featuring Cheryl Brown Henderson and Sephira Shuttlesworth, family members of Civil Rights leaders, who remind us of the central importance of school choice in delivering on the promise of equal educational rights for all.

We’ll be sharing school choice success stories all week – join in the conversation today by speaking up on Twitter, using #SchoolChoice, at 2:30 pm Eastern!

Event videos

Cheryl Brown Henderson
Ms. Henderson, the daughter of the lead plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case,
Brown v. Board of Education, was the keynote at Pioneer’s September 2016 event, “Equal Access to Excellence.”

 

Dr. Sephira Shuttlesworth
Dr. Shuttlesworth, widow of the Birmingham, Alabama, Civil Rights leader, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, & regional support director for SABIS® Educational Systems, was the keynote at Pioneer’s February 2015 forum, “Civil Rights: Charter Schools and Teacher Unions”

Op-eds:

Opinion: Letting Mass. Charters Grow Fulfills Brown v. Board Promise, Plaintiff’s Daughter Says

By Cheryl Brown Henderson

Education is the “most important function of state and local governments… It is doubtful that any child can be reasonably expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity… is a right that must be made available to all on equal terms.”

Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 school desegregation case in which my father was the named plaintiff, is usually remembered for striking down the doctrine of “separate but equal” schools. But I believe this is the excerpt that captures the ruling’s true meaning.

More than 60 years after it was decided, our nation still struggles with how to live up to Brown’s call to make equal educational opportunity a reality. The latest front in the battle for equality is a high-profile Massachusetts ballot initiative that would allow up to 12 new charter schools to open or expand each year in the state’s lowest-performing school districts.

Read more in The 74.

Op-ed: Give more minority students hope — lift the charter cap

By Sephira Shuttlesworth

By 1959, my late husband, the Birmingham, Ala., civil-rights leader Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, had been beaten with bike chains, brass knuckles and baseball bats by a segregationist mob, had his church bombed twice and survived his house being bombed by the Ku Klux Klan on Christmas Day. On a Monday night that year at the St. James Baptist Church, he was convening a mass meeting of his parishioners and other community activists.

After weeks of harassment from the Birmingham Fire Department, firemen showed up claiming a “report” was called in about a fire in the church. Upon leaving the church to resume the mass meeting at another church a block away, Fred Shuttlesworth told the Birmingham fire chief, “Y’all think it’s a fire in there? You know there ain’t no fire in there. The kind of fire in there you can’t put out with hoses and axes!”

And so it is for thousands of poor and minority students who are trapped in chronically underperforming schools in urban areas across Massachusetts with no means of escape. Read more in the Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise, The New Bedford Standard Times, or The Lowell Sun.

Get Updates on Our School Choice Research

Study: After Years of Steady Increases, Homeschooling Enrollment Rose Dramatically During COVID

After steadily increasing for years, the number of parents choosing to homeschool their children skyrocketed during the pandemic, and policy makers should do more to acknowledge homeschooling as a viable option, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

Study: Systemic Failure in IDEA Implementation for Private School Students with Disabilities in Additional States

On the heels of a $3.8 million settlement for private school students with disabilities in Massachusetts for the state’s failure to comply with provisions of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that require provision of equitable, publicly funded special education services to students in private schools, a Pioneer Institute study finds that two states and three school districts around the country for which data are available also appear to be out of compliance.

Key Madison Park Program Lags Other State Voc-Techs, but Shows Signs of Improvement

The co-operative education program at Boston’s Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, which places students in paid positions with local employers, lags far behind other Massachusetts vocational-technical schools in terms of both placements and number of employer contacts.  But with the school as a whole beginning to improve after years of turmoil, the co-op is also showing promising signs, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

New Book Offers Roadmap to Sustainability for Massachusetts Catholic Schools

Catholic schools in Massachusetts must focus on the characteristics that make them academically successful and distinguish them from traditional public schools, but must also seek new models and governance structures that will help them achieve financial sustainability, according to a new book published by Pioneer Institute. The book, "A Vision of Hope: Catholic Schooling in Massachusetts," will be the topic of a webinar co-sponsored by Pioneer and the Catholic Schools Foundation to be held on Wednesday, January 27 at 2:00 pm. 

New Study Provides Toolkit for Crafting Education Tax-Credit Scholarship Programs

In the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a key impediment to private school choice, Pioneer Institute has published a toolkit for designing tax-credit scholarship programs. Now available in 18 states, nearly 300,000 students nationwide use tax-credit scholarships to attend the school of their family’s choice. TCS policies create an incentive for taxpayers to contribute to nonprofit scholarship organizations that aid families with tuition and, in some states, other K–12 educational expenses. This paper explores the central design features of TCS policies—such as eligibility, the tax credit value, credit caps, and academic accountability provisions—and outlines the different approaches taken by the TCS policies in each state.

Study: Signs of Progress at Madison Park, but Still a Long Way to Go

Four years after it began to implement a turnaround plan, Boston’s Madison Park Technical Vocational High School is showing clear signs of progress, but its performance continues to lag behind that of other vocational-technical schools in Massachusetts, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

Public Statement: Pioneer Institute Applauds U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in Espinoza School Choice Case

Pioneer Institute applauds today’s U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down a bigoted state constitutional amendment in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. Like Massachusetts, Montana is among nearly 40 states with so-called anti-aid amendments, which have roots in 19th century anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant discrimination.

Pioneer Alert: Supreme Court Will Rule on Highly Significant School Choice Case

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