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When Cory Booker commenced his stately coronation march toward the late Frank Lautenberg’s U.S. Senate seat last Spring, pundits dismissed his GOP opponent Steve Lonegan as a hapless also-ran, unlikely to sway blue-ish Jersey towards his reactionary Tea Party platform. But with the October 16th election just one week away the race is tightening and, according to one recent poll, Booker, remarkably, is only 13 points ahead. While the Newark mayor will almost certainly win, his victory margin will be far slimmer than earlier projections despite the gulf between Lonegan and the political views of most New Jerseyans…

Last week, in a sign of desperation, Mike Bloomberg made an emergency drop of $1 million to buy TV ads to bolster Booker’s vapid campaign. On Friday Booker will begin a five-day bus tour across the state to muster support. Some cakewalk. It’s not what Lonegan’s doing right. It’s what Booker’s doing wrong…

Take the candidates’ dispute over the Common Core, the state-driven set of academic standards developed by the National Governors Association intended to ensure that all American children, regardless of place of residence, have equal access to a rigorous curriculum. Lonegan’s against it, of course. The Common Core, he insists, is merely federal interference (never mind that it’s state-led) and a violation of states’ rights (never mind that each state’s participation requires legislative approval). At a recent news conference in Trenton, Lonegan (clearly a “Walking Dead” fan) told reporters, “[w]e should not allow the federal government to take over the control of our children’s minds.” One of his compadres at the presser described the Common Core as politically comparable to Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany…

Everyone knows that the Newark Mayor is an ardent supporter of the Common Core, as well as other local and national efforts to promote educational equity for all kids. Yet here he’s transparently underplaying his passion for urban education, creating the impression of equivocation. He sounds weak. In turn, Lonegan sounds strong.

voiceslogoLaura Waters of NJ Left Behind, taking aim at the Democratic candidate for the Garden State for his weak defense of systemic reform. Which raises real questions about whether Booker will be a reliable ally of reformers if he wins the seat formerly occupied by Frank Lautenberg. This is why reformers must continually advocate (and play stronger roles in election politics) in order to keep politicians in line.

What a morning for New York: Nearly 20,000 moms and dads and kids marching across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall Park to demand good schools. Like their forebears in Selma, they marched for freedom.

Meet New York’s charter movement. Ninety-three percent of charter-school children in this city are black or Latino.
On Tuesday, their parents carried signs saying: “My Child, My Choice” and “Charter Schools Are Public Schools.” And they have a message for Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio and his allies in the teachers union: Get off our schoolhouse doorstep!

The message is timely. Though de Blasio styles himself a defender of the underprivileged, he is working against these families by calling for charters to pay rent and for a moratorium on placing charters in unused space in traditional schools. These are charter-killers, and de Blasio pushes them for a simple reason: Charters are good schools, and the teachers unions don’t like good schools outside their ­control.
They don’t like these schools because they eliminate excuses for failure. Every day, charters prove that with a good school, an inner-city child can learn.

The New York Post, making clear how expanding school choice in New York City and elsewhere helps take on the most-important civil rights and urban renewal issue of this time.

The substantial growth over time in the special education gap between charter school students and traditional public school students who also applied to attend a charter school in kindergarten suggests that a meaningful part of the growth in the special education gap could derive from differences between charter and traditional public schools… For this analysis, I focus exclusively on the sample of lottery applicants. Restricting the analysis to include only those students who applied to attend a charter school in kindergarten improves the comparison between later outcomes of charter school students to traditional public school students who are very similar to them. This sort of analysis goes a long way to account for the differences— many of which are unobserved in an administrative dataset—between the type of student who seeks to attend a charter school and the average student in a traditional public school…

Enrolling in a charter school in kindergarten decreases the overall likelihood that a student in the sample is observed in special education in a particular year by about 1.1 percentage points. A year of charter schooling decreases the probability that a student has an IEP by about 0.866 percentage points relative to if the student had attended a traditional public school. Charter schooling has differing effects on rates of different special education classifications. Charter schooling significantly decreases the likelihood that a student is classified as having an SLD or an emotional disability. However, it does not influence the likelihood that the student is classified as having a speech or language impairment or another health impairment.

The results from these regression analyses suggest that a meaningful part of special education gap is explained by the decreased likelihood that a charter school student is classified in special education. A decreased probability of classification into special education increases the special education gap, but does so in a seemingly positive way, as charter school students simply become less likely to be placed into special education than they would have had they instead attended a traditional public school…

I confirm that there is a meaningful difference in the percentages of students in charter and traditional public schools who are enrolled in special education in New York City. The special education gap is relatively large in kindergarten, and it grows considerably as students progress through elementary grades… the growth in the special education gap over time occurs almost exclusively in the mild and subjectively diagnosed category of specific learning disability. Analysis of data… demonstrates that attending a charter school itself leads to a significantly lower probability that a student will be in special education in a later year.

Marcus Winters of the Manhattan Institute, in a study released by the University of Washington’s Center for Reinventing Public Education, showing how charters avoid putting children into special education ghettos — and on the path to despair.

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