on-the-wire

Election Wire

Two high-profile ballot initiatives that involve charter-school expansions were defeated last night. But choice-friendly Board of Education candidates in Oakland, Indianapolis, and New Orleans fared well.

Charter Cap Still Firmly in Place in Massachusetts

Massachusetts voters soundly rejected a proposal to lift the state’s cap on charter schools, which mostly affects Boston.

Although Boston has among the highest-performing charter schools in the nation, opponents (primarily the state’s teachers union) successfully convinced that charter expansion would put funding for traditional public schools in too much jeopardy.

Georgia Voters Say No to Recovery District

As a way to try and improve chronically underperforming schools, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal backed a ballot proposal that would create a state-run “Recovery District” that’s similar to what it’s place in Tennessee and impacts schools in Memphis and Nashville. The measure was lost by a wide margin, with opponents calling the measure “a vague proposal that brought no new resources to struggling schools,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Better Choice News in City School Board Elections

In a few key city school board elections, charter-friendly candidates posted wins.

In New Orleans, all three incumbents up for election retained their seats. They will be part of the Board overseeing a reunification plan that returns control of the city’s schools, which are mostly charters, to local governance.

In Indianapolis, pro-reform candidates went three for four in winning seats on the seven-member charter-friendly board. The lone loss, called a “surprise result” by Chalkbeat, was reform incumbent Sam Odle losing to Elizabeth Gore, a former board member.

And in Oakland, all four incumbents who were on the Board of Education when it unanimously selected Antwan Wilson as its superintendent two years ago, won re-election. Three of them were backed by the pro-charter group Great Oakland (Go) Public Schools.

It wasn’t all good news on the Board of Ed front, however, as union-backed candidates controlled elections in Minneapolis and San Francisco.

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Superintendent Turnover Increases in City Districts

“This is difficult, hard work, just in the educational sense. Obviously the public and political nature of it creates a whole other set of pressures and challenges. I’m looking forward to decompressing.” That’s what outgoing New Haven, Conn. superintendent Garth Harries told the AP in this story, which cites a Council of Great City Schools study showing the average tenure of an urban superintendent dropping to just over three years.

New Houston Supe Talks about Challenges Ahead

One of the city districts bucking the high-turnover trend has been Houston, which just named Richard Carranza to follow in the rather large footsteps of Terry Grier, who spent nearly seven years leading the city’s schools. Urban Edge talked to Carranza, who ran San Francisco Unified School District for four years, about the work ahead.

Reviewing School Closures in Cleveland          

The Cleveland Metro School District has an aggressive transformation plan that has included the closure/replacement of underperforming schools. In the Cleveland Plain Dealer, schools reporter Patrick O’Donnell gives a comprehensive overview of how the interventions have played out.

NY Daily News Reporter Has Strong Words for Principal of “Fight Club” School in the Bronx

Ben Chapman, the education reporter for the New York Daily News, writes from a personal perspective about his involvement in uncovering a “fight club” ring at an elite high school in the Bronx. He lays the blame for the scandal firmly at the feet of the school’s leader: “Bronx Science principal Jean Donahue was worse than ineffective,” Chapman writes. “She had reported the fight club to police in May, yet she had taken no disciplinary steps against students who were duking it out in a field across the street from the school and who were communicating about it on Facebook.”

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