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Education Reporter

Education Briefs 
New Orleans initiated a $10 million need-based voucher program for children from kindergarten to 3rd grade. Legislators hope school choice will help to renew the city, which was devastated three years ago by Hurricane Katrina. More than 600 parents appeared in person to apply for vouchers in the first three days of the application period. The program offers $6,300 each to up to 1,500 children. (School Reform News, Sept. 2008)

Students at Los Angeles charter schools perform much better academically than their peers at traditional public schools, a recent study shows. New charter schools raised students' scores on California's Academic Performance Index at almost twice the rate that district-run schools did. At older, established charters, students averaged 105 points higher on the 1,000-point assessment than their peers at non-charter schools. (School Reform News, Sept. 2008)

Under pressure from the public, segments of the Democratic Party have rescinded their opposition to charter schools, merit pay, and even more radical school choice and accountability measures. 44% of Americans now support vouchers, which are among the more radical school reform proposals under discussion. A consensus favoring charter schools and merit pay is growing among members of both parties.

The day before the Democratic National Convention opened in Denver, Democrats open to school reform measures met for a three-hour seminar organized by the New York-based Democrats for Education Reform. Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker called school reform a "battle at the heart of the Democratic Party. . . . As Democrats, we have been wrong on education. It's time to get it right," he said.

The Massachusetts Court of Appeals confirmed that the Lowell, MA school district must rehire three teachers it fired for failing tests in English fluency. The teachers taught bilingual middle school math and science. Massachusetts voters approved a measure in 2002 requiring English fluency and literacy of public school teachers, and the Lowell school district fired the three teachers in 2003 when they failed oral tests in English. Lawyers defending the teachers argued that the ballot failed to define "fluency," and that the schools should have evaluated the teachers during class time instead of in separate tests. The Court of Appeals told the district to rehire the teachers and pay their back wages. (Lowell Sun, 9-26-08)

The National Education Association is campaigning aggressively for Barack Obama, especially in 13 battleground states. Two million NEA members in those states will receive direct mail, email, and/or phone messages over the next month urging them to vote for Democratic candidates. (NEA press release, 9-30-08)

October 2008 Education Reporter
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Education Reporter is published monthly by Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund with editorial offices at 7800 Bonhomme Ave., St. Louis, MO 63105, (314) 721-1213. The views expressed in this newsletter are those of the persons quoted and should not be attributed to Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund. Annual subscription $25. Back issues available at $2.
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