Posts Tagged ‘Charter School Authority’

Sandoval Public Education Reform Agenda For 2013 Outlined By Top Administration Official

By Sean Whaley | 3:39 pm May 4th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Establishing school choice for parents and ending social promotion for students are two top priorities in Gov. Brian Sandoval’s education reform agenda for the 2013 legislative session, an administration official said today.

Linking pay to performance and providing professional development to ensure students have the best possible classroom teachers is a third major priority, said Dale Erquiaga, senior adviser to Sandoval.

Erquiaga briefed the Nevada State Public School Charter Authority on the governor’s education reform agenda being readied for the next session.

Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons.

Erquiaga said Sandoval is a strong believer in parental choice for schools and that he will again pursue that objective. Whether it will be through a voucher system or by providing opportunity scholarships directly to parents to pick a private or public school has yet to be determined, he said.

Implementing a voucher program would likely require a change to the state constitution, a time consuming process. A scholarship option might circumvent the need for a constitutional change. Florida implemented school choice by giving tax breaks to corporations that provide scholarships to parents for private school, including those operated by religious organizations.

“Fortunately though, we now, really for the first time, have a superintendent of public instruction who supports those concepts and will be working hand-in-hand with the governor’s office to present the best bill,” he said in an interview after his briefing. “The superintendent the governor has hired is a national expert with a national network, and we’re going to bring all of that intellect to bear on providing the very best bill that we can.”

James Guthrie, formerly the senior fellow and director of education policy studies at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas, was named by Sandoval as the new state superintendent of public instruction in March. He started his new job April 2.

Erquiaga said Sandoval was disappointed that the 2011 Legislature failed to act on his proposal to end social promotion. His bill would have required children to be reading proficient by the end of third grade or they would not advance to the fourth grade.

The bill had a hearing but never made it out of the Democrat-controlled Assembly.

“We already provide class size reduction dollars in grades one, two and three,” Erquiaga said. “We have smaller class sizes and it is the intent of those dollars that those children receive the special attention. And yet we’re still passing on thousands of children who can’t read. We’re dooming them to failure.

“We may need to draw a bright line in the sand there,” he said.

Ensuring that each classroom has a highly effective teacher is Sandoval’s other major priority, Erquiaga said.

“We have a performance pay framework but the new superintendent has great ideas around a career ladder so that teachers can see a progression in their career and so we’re really going to look at that as well,” he said.

“We recognize that if we have an effective or highly effective teacher in the classroom, there is almost no better gift that we could give a child than that,” Erquiaga said.

The intention is to reward highly effective educators, including principals, and find ways to keep them, he said.

One element of Sandoval’s education agenda that was well received by the Charter Authority was the idea that many of the existing separate funds designated for specific needs such as textbooks, be placed instead in performance-based block grants that would give school districts more flexibility in how to use the money. Charter schools would be eligible for these block grants as well, Erquiaga said. A bill to accomplish this was introduced in the 2011 session but did not win approval.

The State Public School Charter Authority, itself created by the 2011 Legislature and viewed as a major education reform success by Sandoval, will have at least one bill draft, he said. The authority, created to focus on the creation and oversight of quality charter schools in Nevada, met today and had a discussion about what proposals to bring to the 2013 Legislature.

One of the key issues for the Charter Authority is the creation of “performance-based” charter contracts, which would link accountability to outcomes.

Erquiaga said Sandoval is a strong supporter of accountability throughout the public education system.


Audio clips:

Sandoval Senior Adviser Dale Erquiaga says the governor will pursue school choice in the 2013 session:

050412Erquiaga1 :28 that we can.”

Erquiaga says social promotion is dooming thousands of children to failure:

050412Erquiaga2 :16 them to failure.”

Erquiaga says ensuring each classroom has a highly effective teacher is critical:

050412Erquiaga3 :11 that as well.”


Nevada’s New Charter School Authority Begins Work To Expand Educational Opportunities

By Sean Whaley | 11:15 am February 10th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval described today’s first meeting of the Nevada State Public Charter School Authority as “historic,” and he called on the new group formed as a result of 2011 legislation to help expand charter schools to provide more choice to parents and students.

Sandoval spoke at the first meeting of the panel, one of only 10 in the country solely dedicated to the development and oversight of charter schools.

“This is the first meeting of its kind in the history of the state of Nevada,” Sandoval said. “I also wanted to comment that I hope the authority will help raise the bar on accountability and performance of our charter schools and help grow the charter school sector in our public education system.

Gov. Brian Sandoval. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

“As I’m sure you all saw, the reforms of 2011 have moved the state of Nevada higher in most rankings of the charter school environment, and I do believe that we can do more,” he said. “I’m looking forward to hearing the board’s recommendations for ways to improve the charter school law so that we can continue to move upwards in the rankings.”

Sandoval will also soon be appointing a new state superintendent of public instruction, and he said he expects the appointee will work closely with the charter school authority to continue to improve the K-12 system.

“I think we’re all here for the same reason, we want to provide the best education possible for the children of the state of Nevada, to provide parents and children with choice and the opportunity to seek an education that best meets their needs,” he said.

Nevada’s new charter school authority, the result of Senate Bill 212, strengthened the state’s charter school law in a recent ranking by a national organization.

Last month the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranked Nevada 20th among the states for its charter school law, an improvement from its 23rd ranking in a prior review.

Nevada has 31 charter schools with about 10,000 students, making it the third largest school district in the state after Clark and Washoe counties, said Steve Canavero, director of the authority.

Fifteen of the schools are under the sponsorship of the authority. The Clark, Carson City and Washoe school districts also sponsor charter schools.

At its first meeting, the board elected Kathleen Conaboy, a member of the Government Affairs Group, a subsidiary of the statewide law firm of McDonald Carano Wilson, as the chairwoman.

Other members are Robert McCord, associate professor of education leadership at the University of Nevada Las Vegas; Elissa Wahl, president of Rise Resource Center, a Las Vegas nonprofit that offers support to families who home school their kids; Nora Luna, the Hispanic/Latino program manager for Nathan Adelson Hospice; Melissa Mackedon, one of the founders of the Oasis Academy, a charter school in Fallon that opened in 2011; Marc Abelman, a member of the board of the Quest Academy; and attorney Michael Van.


Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval calls the first meeting of the authority historic:

0210Sandoval1 :13 to charter schools.”

Sandoval says he hopes the authority will help raise the bar on charter school accountability and performance:

021012Sandoval2 :22 can do more.”

Sandoval says Nevada’s charter school law is improved but the state can do more:

021012Sandoval3 :09 in the rankings.”

Sandoval says the goal is to provide choice and the best education possible:

021012Sandoval4 :17 meets their needs.”


Nevada Charter School Law Strengthened In 2011, National Group Says

By Sean Whaley | 4:13 pm January 18th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s charter school law was strengthened in 2011, seeing its ranking among the states moving to 20th from 23rd as a result, a national group reported this week.

Nevada’s overall score improved from 97 points to 111 out of a potential of 208 points in the report issued Tuesday by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Keith Rheault, state superintendent of public instruction, said the primary reason for the improved ranking was the 2011 Legislature’s adoption of Senate Bill 212, which created a new entity to focus exclusively on reviewing and approving charter schools in Nevada.

The State Charter School Authority makes Nevada one of only eight states to have a statewide authorizing agency focused on building high quality charter schools, said Gov. Brian Sandoval in August when he appointed Steve Canavero of Reno as director of the new organization.

The bill eliminated the previous approval process using a subcommittee of the state Board of Education.

The improvement is good news for those who support increased school choice, and comes as National School Choice Week is set to get under way on Sunday.

Nevada has 31 charter schools serving about 8,000 students. Nevada passed its first charter school law in 1997.

Potential areas for improvement in Nevada’s law include increasing operational autonomy and ensuring equitable operational funding and equitable access to capital funding and facilities, the assessment said.

The organization said that following one of the most positive years for state charter school legislation in recent memory, there were numerous changes in the rankings. Sixteen states saw their charter school law scores increase, 22 states’ overall scores remained the same, and four states fell in their overall score.

Maine’s law, which passed last year, vaulted to the top of the rankings. Of the states that allow charter schools, Mississippi’s law remains at the bottom of the list.

In its third year, “Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws” ranks each of the country’s 42 state charter school laws. Each state received a score on its law’s strength based on the 20 essential components from the NAPCS model law, which include measuring quality and accountability, equitable access to funding and facilities and limited caps on charter school growth.

“What’s most encouraging about the charter school movement’s legislative efforts is that they are more frequently marrying growth with quality and accountability,” said lead author of the report and NAPCS Vice President for State Advocacy and Support, Todd Ziebarth. “The long-term viability of the charter school movement is primarily dependent on the quality of the schools that open.  It’s critical that state lawmakers recognize the importance of charter school quality and accountability – and the impact that their laws have on it.  We are glad to see that they are increasingly doing so.”

In the 2011 rankings, the average score of all states with a charter school law was 100 (out of a maximum possible 208), and in this year’s rankings the average state score rose to 107, demonstrating that state charter laws are increasingly improving.  The top 10 states with laws best positioned to support the growth of high-quality charter schools are Maine, Minnesota, Florida, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Indiana, Colorado, New York, California and Michigan.

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools describes itself as the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement.


Audio clip:

State public education chief Keith Rheault says the improved ranking is due to the new charter authority:

011812Rheault :10 got started, so.”