This was written by Jack Hassard, professor emeritus of science education at Georgia State University and a former high school teacher. He is the author of these books: “The Whole Cosmos Catalog of Science, Science Experiences , Adventures in Geology, The Art of Teaching Science” (2009), and most recently, “Science As Inquiry.” Specialities include science teaching and learning, global thinking and education, geology, web publishing, blogging, writing, and antiquing. A version of this was originally posted at his blog, The Art of Teaching Science .

By Jack Hassard

Here is a list of actions and facts that shows how state lawmakers are moving to expand charter schools and make it easier for charter managment companies to come into a state and set up shop. As a result, the door is being open to huge investment opportunites for land, buildings, and leasing opportunities, all on the taxpayers’ dime.

The following shows how powerful the charter school lobby is today, and how policymakers have put on blindfolds when thinking about what is best for the greater good in public education. Here’s some of what’s happening around the country:

* The Georgia Senate was able to persuade three Democratic senators to support HR 1162, a bill that would change the state Constitution and allow the state to create its own set of charter schools, without local school district approval or advice.

* The South Carolina Senate passed a bill that will boost the growth of charter schools statewide.

* The House Ways and Means Education Committee in Alabama is considering a charter school bill that would allow the creation of charters in that state for the first time.

* Legislators in Washington state are close to having enough votes to pass a charter school bill that the governor opposes.

* Idaho lawmakers advanced legislation that would lift the state’s cap on charter schools.

* Louisiana Gov. Jindal plans to authorize more types of groups that can approve new charter schools in the state. The plan would likely cause charters to spring up rapidly across the state, not just in the urban areas where they are now concentrated, writes Sarah Carr at the Times-Picayune.

* Charter schools now account for 41% of the total Washington D.C. public enrollment, an audit showed.

* Amid budget constraints and continued pressure to reform public education, the Oregon Trail School District in Oregon has launched their own charter school, taking advantage of federal charter school grants worth up to half a million dollars to create a rare hybrid: the district-initiated charter school.

* The Michigan House approved legislation that would remove the cap on the number of charter schools in the state.

* More than two dozen schools in Chicago’s most prominent and largest charter networks, including the United Neighborhood Organization, Chicago International Charter Schools, University of Chicago and LEARN, scored well short of district averages recently on key standardized tests, write Joel Hood and Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah at the Chicago Tribune. But Chicago Public Schools still green-lighted proposals for another 12 charters to open in the district, writes Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah at the Chicago Tribune.

* The Austin school board voted 6-3 to bring in IDEA Public Schools, a South Texas charter school operator, to take over the running of two schools in East Austin, writes Melissa Taboada at the Statesman. The move isn’t popular with the community.

* Tennessee state commission of education, Kevin Huffman, wants to clamp down on districts that deny charter school applications.

* The Imagine Academy of Academic Success school in St. Louis has been entangled in a complex series of real estate deals since it opened. By the time students were on their first summer break, their brown brick building at 1409 East Linton Avenue had been sold three times, the final price nearly 10 times higher than the first. In the process, the company running the school cashed in, writes Elisa Crouch at the St. Louis Post-Distpatch . Imagine Schools Inc. is the nation’s largest for-profit charter school operator and it runs six charter schools in St. Louis. Together, their performance on state standardized exams is worse than any school district in Missouri.

* Under a bill just passed by Republicans on the Wisconsin Legislature’s budget committee, a charter school program is to expand to medium and large school districts around Wisconsin, write Jason Stein and Erin Richards at the Milwaukee/Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

* In a historic agreement, the Boston public school district has agreed to cooperate more with the independent charter schools in the city, the Boston Globe reports. Note: Boston is one of several districts to receive funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work on a collaboration scheme between the city’s public schools and charter schools.


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