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Podcast

‘Charter school bill in Alabama is barely on life support’ – political reporter Bill Britt, podcastED

A bill to finally bring charter schools to Alabama looked like a slam dunk at the start of that state’s legislative session.  But after a barrage of negative attacks, intense lobbying by the state teachers union and a stealth ad campaign that has tried to link charter schools to gays, lesbians, Muslims and President Obama, its odds of passage are no longer so good, said a veteran political reporter. “The intent was to derail the legislation,” reporter Bill Britt told redefinED in the podcast interview below. “And amazingly enough, through those efforts and the efforts of the AEA (the Alabama Education...

No more eenie-meenie-minie-moe schools: Alberta Wilson, school choice advocate – podcastED

It’s easy to forget, with new voucher programs in Indiana and Louisiana, with school choice verging on mainstream in Florida, with so many other states moving the ball on vouchers and charters and virtual education, that the choice movement was a lonely place not long ago. Alberta Wilson was a foot soldier more than a decade ago – she founded scholarship funding organizations in Pennsylvania and Virginia - and she remains a stalwart today. At a school choice rally in Virginia earlier this year, the founder of the Faith First Educational Assistance Corp. told the crowd it’s time for parents to...

Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week – podcastED

Considered separately, the students who benefit from expanded school choice options - vouchers, tax credit scholarships, charter schools, virtual schools, home schooling, etc. – still look a little fringe-y next to their peers in traditional public schools. But collectively, choice kids are mainstream, they’re growing, and their parents are a force to be reckoned with. One of the things that best captures the size and scope of today’s school choice movement – and does more than anything to draw positive attention to it - is National School Choice Week. This year’s event in January featured more than 400 separate, local...

Lorena Castillo, Florida teacher who supports school choice – podcastED

Today at redefinED we’re going to smash another stereotype: not all public school teachers oppose expanded school choice. Lorena Castillo is chairwoman of CHISPA, the Coalition of Hispanic Instructors in Support of Parental Awareness. CHISPA falls under the umbrella of the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options, and its 180 members – almost all of them teachers in traditional public schools - support charter schools, private school vouchers and tax credit scholarships. Castillo sees no conflict between that support and support for public schools. The bottom line for CHISPA, she said in the redefinED podcast below, is finding the right...

‘I’m just a dad looking to do the best for his son’ – school “voucher” parent Mike Enters, podcastED

Folks who think the school choice movement is about tearing down or privatizing public schools should set aside a few minutes to listen to Mike Enters. Enters, 52, is the father of 13-year-old Jack Enters, a sixth grader at tiny Lake Monroe Christian School in Sanford, Fla. Jack had severe health problems in his earliest years and has struggled a bit to fit in socially. Enters thought it best to place him in a small school with few distractions, lots of one-on-one attention and strong relationships between parents and staff. He has been financially able to do that thanks to...

Louisiana’s push for vouchers is historic, rewarding – Eric Lewis, podcastED

Louisiana is the center of the school choice universe right now. Last week, the state House passed a bill that creates a statewide voucher program for low-income students (expanding the one now limited to New Orleans). And this week, it passed a bill that creates a statewide tax-rebate scholarship (which is something like a tax credit scholarship). The Louisiana campaign has been “historic” and “rewarding,” Eric Lewis, director of the state chapter of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, says in this podcast. The choice programs, which are expected to clear the Senate and be signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal, are “going to greatly...

Darrell Allison, parental choice leader in North Carolina – podcastED

North Carolina lawmakers took parental choice to new heights last year by removing a cap on charter schools and creating a tax credit scholarship program for students with disabilities. But all signs indicate they’re not done yet - and that a tax credit scholarship for low income students may be next on the agenda. A dozen North Carolina lawmakers visited Florida on a fact-finding trip last week. They heard from former Gov. Jeb Bush and John Kirtley, chairman of Step Up for Students, which administers Florida’s tax credit program for low-income students. They met Florida lawmakers and corporate leaders who support it....

Rep. Richard Corcoran, sponsor of Florida tax credit scholarship bill – podcastED

Behind the scenes, this year's bill to expand Florida’s tax credit scholarship program (which passed the House and Senate and is awaiting Gov. Rick Scott's signature) sparked a bit of a stir in the choice community. The reason: It opens the door for private schools that accept tax credit scholarships to voluntarily administer the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test – the state’s main standardized test. Some private school supporters fear the requirement in HB 859 will pave the way for an FCAT mandate on private schools. But state Rep. Richard Corcoran, the bill’s sponsor, says in this podcast that he doesn’t see that...