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Kansas City School Honors Photographer Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks was a modern renaissance man. A composer, author and filmmaker, he is best known as a groundbreaking photographer whose images of urban life, poverty, race relations and civil rights have had a deep impact on American culture.

Gordon Parks Elementary School, a charter public school in Kansas City, Missouri, honors Mr. Parks, who proudly endorsed the school’s mission of educating children living in the urban core to reach their full potential. The school’s founders, Sue Jarvis and Dorothy Curry, who knew Gordon Parks, wanted to instill in students his love of arts and culture. Throughout the building, there are display cases and photos showcasing Mr. Parks’s work, including letters he wrote to the school and other memorabilia.

Gordon Parks died in 2006, but every year on his birthday, November 30, the students celebrate his life. Depending on the grade level, students are read to about Mr. Parks (there is a children’s book about him in each classroom), they study his more famous photos or they write biographical reports. The school also observes Mr. Parks’s death, March 7, by holding a moment of silence for him at the start of the day.

This year, during Black History Month, each class is studying notable African Americans. Fourth graders, for example, have each selected a significant figure to research and write about—from Harriet Tubman to Duke Ellington, Muhammad Ali, Ruby Bridges and, of course, Gordon Parks.

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Posted in Black History Month

What a Great Week!

We had a great time celebrating our nation’s charter public schools this week. It was exciting to see so much activity across the country during National Charter Schools Week.

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Posted in Charter Schools Week, Champions for Charters

What Do Parents Want?

One clear finding from our parent survey is that the idea of allowing parents to choose which public school their child should attend, rather than assigning students to a school based on where they live, has taken hold. More than half of parents surveyed are strongly in favor of public school choice, including high percentages of minority and low-income parents.

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Posted in Parents, Parent Demand

Are you ready for #CharterSchoolsWeek?

National Charter Schools Week is less than one week away! Are you ready? 

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Posted in Charter Schools Week

Special Education Finance in Charter Schools

Tracking the special education dollars that support services for students with disabilities attending public schools is complicated; attempting to track the funds to autonomous public charter schools is even more so. Understanding how dollars flow to charter schools requires consideration of multiple and overlapping federal, state, and local district formulas and policies.

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Posted in Legal, special education

New Poll Shows Black Voters Strongly Support Charter Public Schools

Our friends at the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) have released results from a new survey that shows black voters strongly support school choice, including the option to send their children to charter public schools.

The survey was conducted in Alabama, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Tennessee and asked 2,400 black voters their opinions on school choice and other education issues.

Majorities of respondents in all four states support charter public schools, with about two-thirds of black voters in Louisiana, New Jersey, and Tennessee expressing support. (Charter public schools are still a new concept in Alabama, which just passed its charter school law this year.) No more than a quarter of black voters in any of the four states opposes charter schools.

Among other key findings, at least 60 percent of voters in the four states say assessments are necessary to hold schools accountable; in Tennessee and Alabama that number increases to nearly 70 percent. And even though K-12 education hasn’t been a major topic of the presidential debates so far, black voters are eager to hear candidates’ views on education. More than 90 percent of voters in all four states said a candidate’s position on education-related issues is important to their vote.

Charter public schools in New Orleans, Newark, and Memphis – three major cities in the states surveyed – have produced some stellar results for African-American students. It’s easy to understand why parents clearly support having these options for their children. Let’s hope state and national leaders are listening.

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Posted in Research

Senator Blunt Visits the First All-Girls Charter School in Missouri

The Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls is an all-girls college preparatory public charter school serving girls in grades 6-12. On September 28, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) visited the newly opened school, which is the first charter school for girls in St. Louis, MO.

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Posted in Successes

Robert Stannard, Jr, Wings Aerospace Academy

As the third largest employer in the U.S. for the aerospace industry, Colorado is taking an exciting new step to help grow the next generation future engineers, astronauts, pilots, rocket scientists, mechanics and more. This fall, the Wings Aerospace Academy (WAA), a new aerospace-focused public charter school, will open in Denver, Colorado to grades sixth, seventh and eighth. It will add one new grade each year until the school us fully enrolled through 12th grade.

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Posted in Back to School