The Missouri Charter Public School Association (MCPSA) has received a grant of $100,000 from the St. Louis Social Venture Partners, a philanthropic program of the Regional Business Council. The grant will be used for a two- year program to assist St. Louis charter schools in their business operations management.
“We are very excited to be able to offer this program to our members in St. Louis,” stated MCPSA Executive Director Dr. Douglas Thaman. “This investment by the St. Louis Social Venture Partners will increase charter school quality by strengthening the business operations capabilities of these schools.”
The program being funded by the St. Louis Social Venture Partners has three main objectives:
- Identification of the areas in which charter schools can improve their business functions and lower indirect costs through mentorship, shared service, and collaborative opportunities.
- Identification and/or development of best practices in areas of highest need for charter schools’ business functions.
- Establishment and implementation of a shared services model addressing key business functions allowing resources to be shared throughout the charter schools.
“The St. Louis Social Venture Partners are thrilled to be able to invest in public education in St. Louis by contributing to this project aiding the business operations of charter schools,” stated Kathy Osborn, Executive Director of the St. Louis Regional Business Council. “This work is a perfect fit within our mission to support non-profit organizations that provide educational programs for disadvantaged youth.”
St. Louis SVP is a program of the Regional Business Council, which makes it unique among the SVP network and has become a model for new cities considering starting their own Social Venture Partners program. MCPSA is also exploring funding for a similar program for charter schools in Kansas City.
“We are very thankful for the St. Louis Social Venture Partners’ support for MCPSA and the St. Louis charter school community. This program will hopefully serve as the foundation for a long term relationship between our groups,” added Thaman.
The Missouri Charter Public School Association, charter school leaders, national education reform leaders and other organizations rallied in Kansas City for school choice during National School Choice Week. The rally was part of a whistle stop tour beginning in Los Angeles and ending in New York to celebrate National School Choice Week 2013.
MCPSA Executive Director, Dr. Douglas Thaman, spoke during the rally on the importance of having quality charter school choices in the State and the Association’s work to expand those choices to areas outside of Kansas City and St. Louis. Thaman also discussed the choice of a school being one of the most important decisions a parent can make for their child. Students from Hogan Prep Academy and Hope Academy Chief Executive Officer Vonelle Middleton also represented Missouri’s charter school sector by speaking at the event. The Della Lamb Choir also performed three songs at the event to a loud ovation.
The Kansas City event drew hundreds of supporters and was kicked off by the Show Me Institute’s James Schuls and Lisa Graham Keegan, a nationally recognized education reform pioneer who served as Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction. Speakers at the event also included Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week and Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor Joe Trippi.
MCPSA, Charter School Leaders and National Education Reform Advocates to Speak During Kansas City National School Choice Week Event
National School Choice Week ‘Special’ nation’s first cross-country whistle-stop train tour promoting school choice; Joe Trippi, Lisa Graham Keegan set to speak at rally
KANSAS CITY, MO. (Jan. 9, 2013) — Students, parents, teachers, and community leaders will rally at Union Station Kansas City on Monday, Jan. 28 to celebrate the arrival of the National School Choice Week ‘Special’ the nation’s first cross-country, whistle-stop train tour in support of education reform.
The rally celebrates National School Choice Week 2013, the world’s largest-ever celebration of effective education options for children. Speakers will discuss the benefits of public charter schooling, public school open enrollment, and online learning in Missouri, while spotlighting the need to enhance educational options for all Missouri families. The rally begins at 4:30 p.m.
“America’s families deserve to have access to the educational options that are right for them,” said Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week. “Having effective educational options for families in our country is a matter of national prosperity, national dignity, even national security. Missourians are ready to celebrate the great education options that they already have, and to demand the options that they don’t have.”
Speakers at the event will include Campanella, Lisa Graham Keegan, a nationally recognized education reform pioneer who served as Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor Joe Trippi, Douglas Thaman, the executive director of the Missouri Charter Public School Association, Lisa Snell, the director of education and child welfare at Reason Foundation, and Vonnelle Middleton, Chief Executive Officer of Hope Academy. The Show Me Institute’s James Shuls will be the event’s master of ceremonies.
National School Choice Week is planning the event in cooperation with the Show Me Institute, the Children’s Educational Alliance of Missouri, FreedomWorks, K-12, the Missouri Charter Public School Association, Parent Revolution and Students First.
This is the third annual National School Choice Week. Planned by a diverse, bipartisan coalition of citizens and organizations, National School Choice Week 2013, runs from Jan. 27 through Feb. 2 and will feature more than 3,500 events spanning all 50 states. Supporters of National School Choice Week believe that states must do more to expand access to challenging and motivating educational options, from high-performing public schools to public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, digital and online learning and homeschooling.
The National School Choice Week ‘Special’ is scheduled to travel through the following cities, each of which will host whistle-stop-themed events with parents, students and dynamic speakers:
- Los Angeles, CA (Friday, Jan. 25)
- Albuquerque, NM (Saturday, Jan. 26)
- Topeka, KS (Monday, Jan. 28)
- Kansas City, MO (Monday, Jan. 28)
- Chicago, IL (Tuesday, Jan. 29)
- Milwaukee, WI (Wednesday, Jan. 30)
- South Bend, IN (Wednesday, Jan. 30)
- Toledo, OH (Thursday, Jan. 31)
- Cleveland, OH (Thursday, Jan. 31)
- Erie, PA (Thursday, Jan. 31)
- Buffalo, NY (Friday, Feb. 1)
- Rochester, NY (Friday, Feb. 1)
- Albany, NY (Friday, Feb. 1)
- New York, NY (Saturday, Feb. 2)
Track the tour’s progress, and check out exclusive photos and videos, online at www.schoolchoiceweek.com/train. Follow the tour on Twitter at @SCWSpecial, and Tweet about the tour with the hashtags #SCW and #whistlestop.
by Mike Ferguson
(St. Charles, MO) – With high-profile failures of public schools in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas, more communities and families are considering the option of charter schools to fill the shortfalls.
Dr. Douglas Thaman, President of the Missouri Charter Public School Association, says in an interview on “Missouri Viewpoints” that charter schools should at least be an option for local school districts and taxpayers throughout the state.
“Parents should have a choice. You should have a choice how your public dollars are spent and so charter schools are meant to provide that choice to families.
“They’re also meant to provide innovative models to families so that a parent can make a decision about the best place for their child to go to school based on the model of the school, what the school offers, location of the school, but it’s tuition-free.”
So, what’s different about charter schools? They are public schools and must be open to all students in the district by law. They do have some freedoms that their traditional counterparts don’t, though. They operate independently from the school boards in their districts and are instead run by their own board of directors.
Thaman adds “What that allows is the opportunity for that governing board to focus the budget of that school, the educational programming of that school, toward the students who are sitting in those seats…as opposed to a district of several thousand students who are trying to make curriculum decisions, instructional decisions, budgeting decisions for thousands and thousands of children, you’re looking at the children you have in your building and saying ‘OK, what best will meet their needs.’”
That freedom and that independent control bring a different level of accountability, according to Thaman.
“If, after a period of time, that school is not performing, is not meeting its goals, then it’s closed.”
That’s in contrast to what Thaman sees as a problem with the traditional public school system: an inability to quickly fix problems and improve the process of education in districts that are struggling.
“Historically there are poor-performing schools, public schools, that, although they’re not really serving and meeting the needs of children, they operate year after year after year. There are improvement plans put into place, but they never really improve and they’re never really held accountable.”
That accountability in charter schools comes from both the school-specific governing board and the threat of quick closure, supporters say.
Charter schools must have a sponsor. Typically, that’s a college or university but can also be the local school board. The state’s Department of Education can also sponsor a charter school.
Not all charter schools succeed, and that’s not a bad thing according to Dr. Thaman.
“We only want the most successful models to open.” He says that means cutting losses when something is not working.
In St. Louis, six charter schools operated by Virginia-based Imagine Schools, Inc. were closed last spring after poor academic performance and controversies surrounding financial management. Over 3,300 students were affected.
Opponents of charter schools look at the swift closures as evidence against the charter school concept. Thaman sees it as the concept working.
“If it doesn’t work, there’s no point in saying for the next thirty years more and more children are going to go through this school.”
Still, charter schools are not an easy option for everyone at this point.
The formation of a charter school can only happen in districts that are unaccredited and in districts that are only provisionally accredited for at least three years. The state or a university could step in and sponsor a charter school in these areas.
Outside of those areas, only the local school board can decide to allow a charter school to be established as part of the district’s options.
The local board of education would be the charter school sponsor in that case.
According to the MCPSA, there are dozens of charter schools in the state now with a collective enrollment of over 20,000. At the end of the 2011 school year, over a quarter of all St. Louis public school students attended charter schools and almost a third of Kansas City public schools were in one.
School Choice Supporters Announce Cross-Country, Whistle-Stop Train Tour for National School Choice Week 2013
The “National School Choice Week Special” will travel from Los Angeles to New York, with 14 whistle-stops along the way, Jan. 25 to Feb. 2, 2013
LOS ANGELES (Dec. 3, 2012) — Tens of thousands of parents, students, teachers, community leaders and education reform supporters will demand greater school choice options for all children on a groundbreaking 14-city, nationwide whistle-stop train tour during National School Choice Week 2013, organizers announced today.
Using the vintage “Northern Sky” railcar to travel from Los Angeles to New York from Jan. 25 to Feb. 2, the tour will evoke past struggles for equality – from suffrage to civil rights – all of which used whistle-stop tours to galvanize support for causes that shaped American history. (More information: www.schoolchoiceweek.com/train)
The “National School Choice Week Special” will mark the first national, cross-country whistle-stop train tour for the school choice movement, which includes advocates for high-performing traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, virtual/online education, blended learning, and homeschooling. At each of the 14 whistle-stops along the way, local and national school choice activists will welcome the train and host special events. Whistle-stops include:
• Los Angeles
• Kansas City
• South Bend
• New York City
“Educational equality is the single most important issue of our time, and the result of that fight will define our nation’s prosperity and security for generations to come,” said Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week. “The ‘National School Choice Week Special’ will bring the school choice movement’s messages of hope, solutions and optimism to cities from coast to coast.”
National School Choice Week 2013 will feature more than 3,000 events across the country. The celebration will be bipartisan, diverse and inclusive, with multiple events planned in each of the 50 states. Events, independently planned by parents, students, teachers, education organizations, and citizens across the country, are united by National School Choice Week’s distinctive imagery – including the symbolic yellow scarves – but are centered around local school choice messages.
National School Choice Week Media Inquiries, Contact: Will Green, 202-577-3938, email@example.com
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