Community, Collaboration and Support for Independent "Mom and Pop" Charter Schools

The Network of Independent Charter Schools helps independent “mom and pop” charter schools succeed. The Network helps principals, teachers, administrators and trustees at independent charter schools collaborate to establish and sustain effective programs. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Network delivers a comprehensive and integrated array of services and resources—free of charge—to support teachers, administrators and trustees at independent charter schools.

Traditionally, mom and pop charter schools have dominated the first wave of charter schools. These are often opened by teachers or parents. These schools typically serve only one site. They are often called community charter schools. They are known for having high teacher turnover rates and low graduation rates.

These schools are not required to follow the same rules and regulations as traditional public schools. They may have smaller classes, or they may be less concerned with state standards. They may also be more welcoming to minority students. They may also be more apt to appeal to parents of socially anxious students. They may also be more interested in teaching subjects that matter to students.

Charter schools are generally tuition-free. They can enroll anyone. They can also develop their own budgets and curricula, and they can accept students who are outside the boundaries of traditional public school districts. Many people worry that charter schools will take away money from struggling traditional schools. However, charter schools have shown themselves to be more productive than traditional schools in some cases.

A recent literature review examined the positive and negative effects of charter schools. It found nine positive effects and three negative effects. While most of the charter school spillover effects are positive, there were two mixed effects.

One positive effect is that charter schools tend to perform better than traditional public schools in rural and suburban areas. Another positive effect is that charter schools tend to perform well in cities with a large population of disadvantaged students.

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A native Tennessean and former political campaign manager is the new director of community engagement for the Tennessee Charter School Center. He worked previously with the Tennessee Charter Schools Association and Nashville Preparatory Charter School. Now, John Little will focus entirely on the Tennessee Charter School Center efforts to educate parents and coordinate charter school supporters.

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On October 21, 2013 the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools (NCSECS) announced its launch at the National Association of Charter School Authorizers' (NACSA) 2013 Leadership Conference. This new nonprofit organization is the first to focus solely on proactively working with states, authorizers, charter and special education advocates and other stakeholders to improve access, create dynamic learning opportunities and address barriers that may impede charter schools enrolling and effectively educating students with disabilities.

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Lake Wales High School teachers Dena Elmore and Tammy Shields love what they do for a living, but they have been really fired up since they participated in a free workshop courtesy of McKeel Academy of Technology, a Lakeland charter school. Thanks to a $250,000 grant that allows McKeel Academy of Technology to sponsor this workshop, and pass on its best practices to teachers and school administrators. At the workshop educators and administrators learned successful strategies for obtaining strong academic achievements and financial stability.

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The policy group “Save Our States” reports that charters in public school buildings cost more than $3,000 less per student less than regular public schools. Pensions and health costs for teachers and other staff are substantially higher for the traditional, unionized public schools compared to charters, which offer their employees 401ks rather than more generous defined benefit plans. The report shows that when fully accounting for pension and health cost liabilities, regular public schools cost $19,822 to $20,283 per student. By comparison, charter schools co-located in city school buildings cost $16,660. Additionally, according to the study, charter schools offered free space in city educational facilities are actually a bargain for New York taxpayers.

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For most parents, who are required to fill out forms in person at each school they want their young children to be considered for, the kindergarten application period each winter means long lines and stacks of paperwork. Starting next year, however, parents will be able to apply online through a Department of Education Web site, ranking their school choices and submitting a single application. The online application, called Kindergarten Connect, was tested in 2012 in three districts — one each in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan — and “significantly more” parents applied early for kindergarten spots as a result, the city said.
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The 2013 MCAS results demonstrate that race and income based achievement gaps can be closed by charter schools. In one of the strongest showings, the two new campuses of the Brooke Charter School network outscored the state at every grade level tested in English, math, and science, sometimes by more than 20 or 30 points. Similarly, students at the Excel Academy Charter School network’s year-old campus in East Boston exceeded state averages in all subjects, much like its students at its original school, which is also located in East Boston.
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Since it opened five years ago in a strip mall — its neighbors are Napa Auto Parts and a pizza joint — Global Academy has made strides toward narrowing the achievement gap between white and minority students. It’s doing so even though more than 90 percent of its students, most from families recently arrived from Somalia or the Middle East, live in poverty, and more than 60 percent are still learning English.
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The Intellectual Values Academy, a new Long Beach charter school, was founded by two philosophers. The school is based on an “intellectual virtues educational model.
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Diana Diaz made it her mission to find her son the very best schooling possible, but what she found was a real lack in what her son and others with autism really need. So she decided to open her own school, Arizona Autism Charter Schools.
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Detroit Tuesday to lead a tour of a newly opened charter school. The Southwest Detroit Lighthouse Charter Academy is the first charter school in Michigan to benefit from Agassi’s fund.
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Washington’s new nine-member Charter School Commission has appointed Joshua Halsey to serve as executive director. The commission is responsible for authorizing charter schools, which under a law passed last year that allows up to 40 to be created over the next five years.
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TThe U.S. Department of Education awarded $12.3 million to 35 schools districts in 17 states across the country to establish or expand counseling programs. Of the 35 new awards, two were charter school recipients from New York and Ohio. A $317,305 grant will go to Imagine Me Leadership Charter School to support the social-emotional and mental health needs of elementary students and a $399,160 grant will go to Columbus Preparatory Academy for the Ohio Charter School Consortium to expand counseling at eight K-8 schools.
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The Network's Social Learning Institute offers a web-based learning opportunity through social learning software and activities that include Learning Paths, Resource Library, Global Collaboration, Reporting, and other virtual services. Learn more now!

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