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The Education Innovator #11
Volume II
Archived Information


The Education Innovator
 March 22, 2004 • Number 11
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Feature
Greater Educational Opportunities Foundation
What's New
Secretary of Education Paige announces flexible policies to help states implement the NCLB teacher quality requirement; Alan Greenspan explains that economic opportunity depends on rigorous education for all; the Broad Foundation and the NewSchools Venture Fund have committed $2.8 million to Green Dot Public Schools; the Educational Facilities Financing Center has published The Finance Gap: Charter Schools and Their Facilities; a Goldwater Institute report finds Arizona's charter schools have higher annual achievement growth than traditional public schools; and GEO Foundation is conducting a nationwide supplemental educational services outreach effort to parents.
Innovations in the News
Indianapolis accepts contracts for four new charter schools, one of which will be run by GEO; plus information on parental involvement and education finance.

GEO Foundation Combines Aspects of No Child Left Behind to Support Choice and Inform Parents
In some communities, No Child Left Behind's provisions are like grains of sand that stimulate the growth of pearls. Indianapolis is an example. The Greater Educational Opportunities Foundation (GEO), working with the local school system, political officials, and the private sector, and with support from U.S. Department of Education grants, has tied together parts of No Child Left Behind to create a strand of educational services. Started as a nonprofit organization to foster parents' interests in school choice, the foundation has formed a public charter school, has established a Parent Information and Resource Center (PIRC), and provides after-school educational activities with free tutoring.

Where conductors used to call out, "All Aboard," children's voices are now heard reading or discussing math problems against the background of clicking computer keys. The 160 children in grades K-7 who attend GEO's 21st Century Charter School at Union Station (a registered historic landmark) are surrounded and inspired by the past while using computer tools to learn for the future. The school's curriculum is based around the A+Anywhere Learning System, which is aligned with Indiana and national standards. Patterned after the one-room schoolhouse with a multi-aged classroom, the school emphasizes individualized learning. When a child has achieved 80 percent mastery of the material for a grade level, he or she can move on to the next grade, regardless of age.

Although the school's student performance on state assessments is still below the state average, in the first year of operation the percentage of third grade students' passing the tests increased by about 50 percent, and the percentage of sixth grade students went up by about 30 percent.

GEO's Parent Information and Resource Center, in its first three months of operation, has used many avenues to reach parents of children in schools that need improvement. The goal of this outreach is to tell parents about the free tutoring available to students by state-approved providers and to keep parents informed about educational options. (In addition to Indianapolis, the PIRC grant is extending GEO's reach to parents in Gary, Denver, and Colorado Springs, where there are other GEO affiliates.) In Indianapolis, the PIRC has posted billboard signs in 60 locations and is running ads at dollar movie theaters, broadcasting radio ads, and attending parent fairs-all with the goal of empowering parents to make informed choices about their children's education. The PIRC serves as a gathering place for education and is a link to community resources. For example, it distributes a free directory of places in Marion County that offer free tutoring.

Finally, the tools used at the charter school are available to any Marion County student, from first grade through adult, at GEO's Community Technology Center. Free instruction is offered in math or English, from 4-7 P.M., Monday through Thursday, in nine-week sessions. Students of all ages have had success with the learning system, including adults preparing for the GED. All tutoring is conducted by licensed professionals who are helped by community volunteers and paid college student assistants. GEO has also applied to the state to become an approved supplemental educational services provider.

The charter school and Parent Information and Resource Center are supported by grants from OII. The Community Technology Center is supported by a grant from the Office of Vocational and Adult Education.

For additional information, please view:

Note: The feature is a description of one program that has integrated elements from No Child Left Behind to develop a full-service educational resource center, geared particularly to the most economically and disadvantaged students. The programs are too new to have sufficient evidence of effectiveness. The Mayor of Indianapolis recently signed a contract for another GEO-run school, 21st Century English Avenue School, which is scheduled to open in fall 2005.

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What's New
New, Flexible Policies Help Teachers Become Highly Qualified
Secretary of Education Rod Paige announced three new flexible policies to help states implement the NCLB requirement that all teachers of core academic subjects be highly qualified. These policies pertain to teachers in small, rural, and isolated areas; to science teachers; and to teachers who teach multiple subjects, particularly those in middle schools and teaching students with special needs. (March 15)


Testimony of Chairman Alan Greenspan Before the Committee on Education and the Workforce
In his testimony before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan explained that one critical element in creating economic opportunity is to provide rigorous education and ongoing training to all members of society, because "equal opportunity requires equal access to knowledge." (March 11)


Broad Foundation And Newschools Venture Fund Invest In Los Angeles Charter Schools
The Broad Foundation and the NewSchools Venture Fund have committed $2.8 million to Green Dot Public Schools, a charter management organization that is developing small charter high schools for underserved students in Los Angeles. (March 15)


Educational Facilities Financing Center
The Educational Facilities Financing Center has published The Finance Gap: Charter Schools and Their Facilities. This report shows the challenges charter schools face and methods they have used to overcome them. (March 15)


Goldwater Institute Policy Report
A new Goldwater Institute policy report finds that Arizona's charter school students had a higher annual achievement growth than their peers in traditional public schools on the SAT-9 reading tests. (March 15)


GEO Foundation
GEO Foundation is conducting a nationwide supplemental educational services outreach effort to inform parents of the free tutoring opportunity. This outreach will focus on the largest cities in the country. GEO is looking for community partners to 1) serve as a local contact to answer parents' questions about supplemental services; 2) be a link between parents and schools where students are eligible for supplemental services; and 3) distribute posters about the services at community gathering places. If your organization would like to serve as a local contact, please email Keri Hunter at keri.hunter@geofoundation.org.


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Innovations in the News

Charter Schools
Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson accepted contracts for four new charter schools. One will be run by the GEO Foundation (see feature). [More-INDYSTAR] (March 11)

Three new charter schools with the goal of reaching economically disadvantaged, high-minority areas will open in Ypsilanti (MI). These schools could boost enrollment in charter schools in Washtenaw County by more than 50 percent. [More-Ann Arbor News] (March 16)

A bill now in the California State Legislature would allow community colleges, the California State University system, and the University of California to approve and oversee charter schools. [More-ContraCostaTimes] (March 15)

Newspaper readers in Washington state say they would send their children to charter schools. [More-TribNet] (March 13)

Parental Involvement
Hispanic CREO, BAEO, and other grassroots organizations are training parents to find ways to better their children's education through the choice and supplemental educational services options under No Child Left Behind. [More-ED Week] (March 17)

Montgomery, Alabama, principals discussed their schools "in need of improvement" under No Child Left Behind. Programs and initiatives aside, the principals and board members agreed that without improvements in parental involvement, the schools would be facing an uphill struggle. [More-Miami Herald] (March 7)

Parents in Cochise County (AZ) are finding that under No Child Left Behind schools are seeking more of their input and help in educating their children. [More-Sierra Vista Herald] (March 4)

The Giles County School System (TN) sees No Child Left Behind as an opportunity to further parental involvement and supplemental educational services. [More-GilesToday] (March 3)

The United Parent Teacher Coalition in East Hartford (CT) has been reinvigorated as a result of No Child Left Behind. The organization will increase its capacity to provide training and resources for the local PTO/PTA to help increase parent skills to support their children's learning. [More-East Hartford Gazette] (Feb. 19)

Education Finance
An Arizona law that benefits private schools benefits public schools, too. The law allows taxpayers to donate money to charitable organizations that provide scholarships for private education, and people can also donate to public schools in return for tax credits. [More-Education Week] (March 10)

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Last Modified: 06/28/2011