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Burgeoning school choice – Michigan
The growth of school choice across the state drew the attention of investigative news outlet Bridge Michigan recently. Reporters crunched the data and found that 1 in 4 Michigan students currently attend a school other than their zoned district school. That’s up from 1 in 6 a decade earlier. This reality, coupled with a decline in the overall number of K-12 students across the state, is couched as bad news, especially in terms of funding for districts, but the prevalence of charter and interdistrict options—expanding far into rural areas too—reads as good news for Michigan families who once had no choices other than the default.
Burgeoning school choice – Ohio
Here in Ohio, the Dayton Daily News covered similar news this week, looking at not just public options like charter and STEM schools, but also private schools too. Briefly: Enrollment in charter and STEM schools in Ohio increased by 4.7 percent between October 2022 and October 2023. Private schools saw a 2 percent increase over the same period. Interestingly, they also note that career tech centers also saw an enrollment increase this year—about 2,500 more students this year than last. Tess Mitchner Asinjo, executive director for Dayton Leadership Academies, discussed the four percent enrollment boost in her school this year, noting that “families shared with us that the reason they changed schools is due to a lack of teachers, not a positive school environment, or not enough programs offered for students.” Nothing but good news for those families for sure!
Quantifying the competition
The national office of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute this week released a new report looking to quantify the amount of “competitive pressure” that school choice exerts on 125 of the largest traditional districts in the country. This includes a gamut of options from charter schools and interdistrict open enrollment to private schools (including the vouchers and ESAs that help families attend) to microschools and homeschooling as well. Amazing work! You can read the full report here, but Ohio districts studied include Cleveland Metropolitan School District (with 44 percent of resident students attending outside the district), Columbus City Schools (36 percent), and Cincinnati City Schools (34 percent).
LaFontaine Preparatory School is aiming to be the first charter school to open anywhere in Kentucky. Its application is pending before the Madison County School Board and a public meeting to discuss that application was well attended this week. School founder Gus LaFontaine struck a cooperative note in his testimony. “I’m a product of Madison County Schools,” he said, “my friends teach at Madison County Schools. I would love to be able to collaborate with the board and with Madison County School teachers and leaders to be able to create an excellent education option.” He answered questions from board members and listened to testimony from opponents and supporters alike. A decision on the school’s future will likely not be made before the end of the year.
New scholarship program for Ohio high school grads
The Governor’s Merit Scholarship is a new effort to keep high-achieving high school graduates in Ohio as they choose a college to attend. Graduating seniors—starting with the current Class of 2024—in the top 5 percent of their class at district, charter, STEM, and private schools will be automatically applied to the program by their schools. (Even homeschool and dropout recovery high school students can apply, but the process is a bit more laborious for them.) Scholarship recipients can attend an Ohio college or university and can renew their scholarship—up to $5,000 per year toward tuition, fees, or other expenses—for up to four years of full-time instruction. A great new opportunity for our most diligent students!
A group of Ohio state legislators sent a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona this week requesting that his department review a Charter Schools Program (CSP) grant awarded to Cincinnati Classical Academy earlier this year. Among other complaints, they allege that the school provided inflated test scores and pretended to be much more diverse than it is in order to win the grant.
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