October 17, 2014

Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson welcomes the International Academy of Trenton

Mayor Eric Jackson of Trenton, New Jersey, welcomed representatives of Trenton's newest charter public school, the International Academy of Trenton, at City Hall on October 16, 2014.  Mayor Jackson, the 47th Mayor of Trenton, assumed office on July 1, 2014 for a four-year term.  The Mayor congratulated the International Academy and SABIS Educational Systems for a successful and smooth school opening on September 8th and for offering 354 students access to a high quality college prep education. 

"I'm the Mayor for all the residents of Trenton, whether they attend traditional public or charter schools," said Mayor Jackson.  "A quality education is the key to revitalizing our city." 

Dr. Anthony Degatano, Director of the International Academy extended an open invitation to Mayor Jackson to visit the Academy, which the Mayor accepted.  Click here for a video of the International Academy's first day of school.

Tony Degatano, IAT Director, Mayor Eric Jackson, and Larry Chenault, IAT Board President

Pictured below from left to right are:  Alicia D'Allessandro of Beckerman Public Affairs; Matt Graig, SABIS Director of New School Development; Jose Afonso, SABIS Director of US Business Development; Anthony Degatano, School Director of the International Academy; Francis Blanca, Mayor Jackson's Chief of Staff; Mayor Eric Jackson; Larry Chenault, President, Board of Trustees of the International Academy; and, Tim White of Beckerman Public Affairs.

September 12, 2014

Michigan's Attorney General launches anti-bullying campaign at the SABIS International Academy of Flint

September 11 - Flint, MI:  Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette introduced the State's OK2SAY anti-bullying campaign at the International Academy of Flint, a member of the SABIS School Network.  The International Academy is a successful charter school and recipient of numerous academic awards.  The school opened in 1999 and serves nearly 1,200 students in grades K-12.

Click here for ABC12 news coverage of the initiative's launch at the International Academy.

Excerpts about the OK2SAY initiative from the Attorney General's announcement:

OK2SAY... a new program that enables students to confidentially report potential harm or criminal activities involving students or school employees. OK2SAY’s focus is on early intervention and prevention, acting as an early warning system to thwart school tragedies before they occur.

Students (and others) will be able to submit tips 24/7 by telephone, text, email, mobile application, and via a web-based form on the OK2SAY website at www.mi.gov/ok2say (website will be operational September 2, 2014). Tips can be filed on a wide range of issues, including: planned school attacks, weapons at school, assault, bullying/cyberbullying, threats, gang activity, and more. Upon receipt of a tip, specially trained OK2SAY operators will address the immediate need and, as necessary, forward the information to the appropriate responding agency or organization. Most tips are expected to go to schools and local law enforcement agencies, but in some instances, tips may go to local Community Mental Health agencies and/or the Michigan Department of Human Services. Operators will be trained to recognize, and appropriately address mental illness and emotional disturbance. Tips suggesting a psychiatric emergency will be forwarded to the local community mental health psychiatric crisis line.

September 11, 2014

SABIS International Charter School Hosts Largest College Fair To Date

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Hundreds of high school students packed into a crowded gymnasium at Sabis International Charter School in Springfield this morning. With representatives from 82 colleges and universities, it’s the school’s biggest college fair, to date.

“It’s schools from all over the country, and local schools in Western Massachusetts, and what we do is we have our fair the day after the Western New England National Fair that takes place every year, so luckily, we get a lot of schools from all over the country,” says Kathleen Joyce, a guidance counselor at Sabis.

The fair is open to students in grades 9-12. Organizers say, while college might be the last thing on a freshman’s mind, it’s events like today that shape their plans for the future.

“I’d probably be waiting in ignorance, thinking probably that I have more time, when in reality, I really don’t,” says Nathan Johnson, a junior at Sabis.

“They have this experience today in the 9th grade where they meet an admissions counselor and make a connection and then that admissions counselor comes back the following year and remembers that student, so it’s very significant to the student,” adds Joyce.

“I like how today went, they had a lot more schools than last year, they keep building and I think it’s a really good experience for everyone here to be able to see a whole bunch of different colleges, especially the kids in younger grades so that when they do get to their senior year,” Madison Sinkfield, a senior at Sabis. “They’re not like running around like, ‘I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what colleges I want,’ I think this is a really good experience for kids.”

Sabis students boast some of the top tests scores in the state. Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report ranked Sabis 57 out of 352 high schools in Massachusetts.

Click here to read and watch the video at WGGB.

September 9, 2014

Newest SABIS charter school opens in Trenton, New Jersey

The International Academy of Trenton, the newest member of the SABIS Schools Network opened its doors Monday, September 8th in Trenton, New Jersey.  This new SABIS charter school welcomed 354 eager students in grades KG-3.  There are 371 additional students on the waiting list.  The International Academy plans to expand by one grade level each year until it becomes a full KG-12 school.  This is the first of several SABIS-managed charter schools planned for New Jersey.  The SABIS Business Development Team coordinated this school's successful opening, which is located at 720 Bellevue Ave, Trenton, NJ.

"Our team has the capacity and know-how to successfully launch new schools and I'm thrilled that the months of hard work and long hours have resulted in this seamless transition from its pre-operational stage to actual students in the classroom," said Tim Cameron, SABIS New School Start-up Coordinator.  "It's personally fulfilling to be a part of an initiative that will be offering Trenton's kids and families a top-quality college-prep education in a safe and caring environment."

The International Academy is led by Dr. Anthony Degatano, an experienced educator and school administrator.  For more information about the International Academy, please call (609) 759-2005, email iat@sabis.net or visit the school's website at www.iat.sabis.net.

George Saad, SABIS VP of US Operations welcoming students on first day.

Larry Chenault (Board Pres) and Traci Cormier (SABIS Operations Director)

International Academy's students excited about the first day of school

Students arriving on the first day of school
Tim Cameron, New School Start-up Coordinator, offering a helping hand

Smooth dismissal after a successful first day of school

June 4, 2014

State Senator Eileen Donoghue visited the Lowell Collegiate Charter School

Lowell, MA:  Massachusetts State Senator Eileen Donoghue visited the Lowell Collegiate Charter School today.  Lowell Collegiate, the newest member of SABIS School Network, is in its first operational year, serving 268 students in grades K-3.  During the 2014-15 school year it will enroll 350 students in grades K-4, and will continue to add a grade level each year until becoming a K-12 school.  The school is currently housed in a temporary facility while its permanent site is built.

Senator Eileen Donoghue, who represents the 1st Middlesex district of Massachusetts in the State Senate, met with school staff and members of the Board of Trustees, toured the temporary facility, and visited classrooms where she met with an enthusiastic and diverse student-body that is reflective of the cultural diversity of the City of Lowell.

In the picture are (left to right): Jose Afonso (SABIS), Senator Eileen Donoghue, Kathleen McCarthy (Board President), Erika Sousa (Board member), Dr. Joseph McCleary (School Director).

June 3, 2014

Massachusetts State Senator Gale Candaras visits SABIS International Charter School

MA State Senator Gale Candaras visits with SABIS students
Springfield, MA: Massachusetts State Senator Gale Candaras visited SABIS International Charter School today to learn more about this award-winning school's successful educational program. Senator Candaras was given a tour of one of the first charter schools to open in Massachusetts in 1995 and met with school staff and students.

SABIS International opened in fall 1995 with 450 students in grades K-7 and then added a grade level each year until becoming a K-12 charter school. This school now serves 1,574 in grades K-12 and is the largest charter school in Massachusetts.   It also has the largest charter school waiting list with over 2,800 hoping for an opening to enroll.   SABIS International not only outperforms the local school district, it also beats the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Senator Candaras represents Chicopee, Springfield, East Longmeadow, Hampden, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Wilbraham, Belchertown and Granby.

May 31, 2014

Video: SABIS charter schools in Massachusetts

International Academy of Trenton hires Dr. Anthony Degatano as School Leader

Dr. Anthony Degatano

Trenton, NJ — SABIS® Educational Systems, Inc. recently selected Dr. Anthony Degatano as the founding school director (principal) of the International Academy of Trenton Charter School. Dr. Degatano’s selection as director was unanimously ratified by the school’s board of trustees. The International Academy will open in fall 2014 with 354 students in grades K-3 and will add a grade level each year until becoming a full K-12 school. The International Academy will be the newest member of the SABIS® School Network, which spans 6 states in the U.S. and an additional 14 countries.

Dr. Degatano’s experience ranges from classroom teacher to administrator, roles in which he readily accepted and met the challenges of educating a diverse population. His first administrative position in Elizabeth included the supervision of all math and language arts teachers servicing 18 schools. Following this, he became the Director of the Union County Educational Services Commission, where he operated various programs for 21 school districts.

Dr. Degatano’s next challenge was a move to the private sector, where he was the principal of an alternative high school and the Executive Director of Independent Child Study Teams and Educational In-Roads. The next opportunity was that of Vice President for Sylvan Learning and Catapult Learning. In this last role, he was responsible for a $44,000,000 budget of educational programs and supervised 1,200 employees in 200 schools throughout NJ. Over the last eight years, Degatano has served as an adjunct professor for the School of Education at Drexel University.

Born and raised in Elizabeth, NJ, Dr. Degatano holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Rider University, a Master’s degree in Administration and Supervision from Kean University, and has completed a Doctoral program in Educational Leadership, Administration and Policy through Pepperdine University.

“We are so pleased that Dr. Degatano has joined our leadership team at the International Academy of Trenton,” said George Saad, Vice President of Operations for SABIS®. “His varied experiences within education and beyond will help our students remain focused on success and the achievement of the rigorous college-prep mission of the SABIS® program." He continued, “Dr. Degatano will be leading the newest member of the SABIS® School Network, which traces its educational program origins to 1886. He shares our belief in high expectations, no excuses, and the belief all students, including those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, can be prepared for success in college.”

While the school’s permanent facility is built, the International Academy will be located at 720 Bellevue Street in Trenton (at the former Blessed Sacrament School).

Enrollment for the International Academy is underway; interested parents can apply online at iat.sabis.net or call 609-759-2005.

May 30, 2014

SABIS International Charter School's Seniors Receive Gift from Dwarska Family

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Last November, a promising future was cut short when 17-year-old Allison Dwarska was killed in a Springfield car crash.

The Sabis International Charter School senior was looking forward to graduation and college. Now, as her classmates prepare for the next chapter in their lives, they’ll be taking a little piece of Allison with them.

“She could take a bad situation and just turn it into a fabulous one, turn it into a positive one,” say Allison’s parents Donna and Donnie Dwarska.

When Allison was killed in the crash near Springfield’s Blunt Park, her family received tremendous support from the community — so much, they were able to establish a scholarship fund in Allison’s honor.

Today, all 105 of her classmates became the recipients of that generosity.

“We wanted to have something for the kids to take to college with them — to take a piece of Allison,” says Donna.

At a scholarship ceremony Friday morning, every member of Allison’s senior class took home a few of her favorite things. Seven students also received tablets, and another 13 received something that was at the top of Allison’s college wish list.

“Allison also wanted us to buy her a MacBook Pro computer to take to college, so I just thought, or we thought, it was fitting that some of the recipients got the MacBook Pros, this way Allison will go off to college with a lot of her friends,” says Donna. “She’ll be in their hearts.”

The gifts are a small piece of positivity from the girl who could find good in even the worst of circumstances.

“I don’t think there was a person in here that didn’t like her,” says Donnie. “No matter how bad your days was, just talking to her, she would put you on the up-rise, just like that.”

“Allison always was the kind of girl that did the right thing, so I just want them to do the right thing, just live life to the fullest and reach for the stars,” adds Donna.

The Dwarska family plans to donate scholarships to graduating Sabis seniors in Allison’s honor for years to come. (Read the full ABC40 story here.)

Massachusetts State Senator Don Humason visits SABIS charter school in Holyoke

Holyoke, MA (May 29): Massachusetts State Senator Don Humason visited the Holyoke Community Charter School, a member of the SABIS Schools Network, which opened in fall 2005 and currently serves 702 students in grades K-8.  Senator Humason toured the school facility and then met with students, staff and parents in the indoor "garden room" where he heard a plea for the senator to support upcoming legislation that would raise the cap on the number of students who can attend charter schools. 

Holyoke Community's parents and students are seeking to create a high school, but the current cap leaves less than 100 remaining seats available for Holyoke's resident students to attend charter schools.  Currently, the vast majority of the school's graduating 8th graders attend the local Holyoke High School, where they are often placed in advanced classes.  During the visit, Senator Humason heard from 8th graders who expressed love for their school and preference to remain there through high school.  He also heard parents speak about the school's college-prep mission and caring and welcoming environment.  The school's director, Dr. Sonia Pope, handed Senator Humason a binder containing hundreds or support letters and petition signatures from parents and supporters of raising the state's charter school enrollment cap.

Senator Humason represents Agawam, Southwick, Granville, Tolland, Russell, Montgomery, Southampton, Easthampton, Chicopee (7, 8A, 9A), Westfield, and Holyoke in the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District of the Massachusetts State Senate.   Prior becoming a senator, he served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from the 4th Hampden District from 2003 to 2013.

May 12, 2014

SABIS private school in Minnesota ranked among America’s "Most Challenging Schools"

The International School of Minnesota (ISM), a member of the global SABIS® School Network, recently ranked 2nd in Minnesota on The Washington Post’s list of “America’s Most Challenging Schools.”

The Challenge Index identifies the schools that are working the hardest at challenging average students with advanced courses and have placed an obvious focus on academic success for all students. All qualifying schools are included on the list, which has grown considerably in the last year. To determine qualification for the list, The Washington Post uses a formula which divides the total number of Advanced Placement® (AP®), International Baccalaureate, and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school by the number of seniors who graduate in May or June of that academic year.

This is the second consecutive year that ISM has been included among America’s most challenging schools. In fact this year, no other private school in Minnesota was included on the list.

“ISM students consistently perform outstandingly on external exams. This is a great testimony to the strength of the SABIS® Educational System, which helps students achieve their full potential and empowers students to take an active role in their education,” stated Ms. Christi Seiple-Cole, ISM School Director.

ISM results speak for themselves:

  • ISM students take an average of 7 AP® courses before they graduate
  • In 2013, 85% of ISM students taking AP® courses scored a 3, 4, or 5 on the AP® exams
  • ISM students scored 27% higher than the national average on AP® exams in 2013
  • 100% of ISM graduates attend a 4-year college or university
To be able to bring its high-quality education to a broader audience, ISM has added a new, state-of-the-art residential student facility to its campus. Students in grades 9 to 12 are eligible for the boarding program at the school. For more information about the boarding program at ISM, click here or call +1-952-918-1840.

To view The Washington Post Challenge Index listing for ISM, click here.

May 5, 2014

US Charter School Waiting Lists Top 1 Million for the First Time

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools announces today in a press release (below) that charter school waiting lists tops 1 million students.  Click here to read the waiting list report.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released new estimates that show the number of student names on public charter school waiting lists has reached 1,043,311, breaking one million student names for the first time.  

“Year after year, parent demand for charter schools continues to rise and this year is no exception,” said Nina Rees, National Alliance President and CEO. “As more families see the remarkable results charter schools are delivering, more are looking to enroll their children. Despite continued growth in the number of charter schools nationwide, we are failing to keep up with this high demand. If we want to meet the needs of students and families, policymakers, charter school leaders, and other stakeholders must come together and determine how we can help address this growing list of students waiting to attend a charter school.” 

This year’s estimate is 123,304 higher than last year’s estimate of 920,007 – a growth rate of 13 percent. Since the 2008-09 school year, the waiting list estimate has grown by 186 percent. State such as California and New York now have more than 150,000 student names on waiting lists.

This survey also includes an estimate of the number of individual students on waiting lists. The estimate shows that at a minimum, more than 580,000 total individual students – many of whom are on multiple charter school waitlists in the hopes of increasing the chance of getting into at least one – are on waiting lists across the country.

“It’s no surprise that parents are clamoring for the opportunity to send their children to a high-performing public charter school,” continued Rees. “Study and after study shows that public charter schools are beating the odds by helping our nation’s most disadvantaged students pursue their dreams. Because of charter schools, more students are graduating, attending college, and going on to earn higher incomes. We must end the waiting list so that every student who wants to has the opportunity to attend a high-quality charter school.”

To address the growing waiting list, the National Alliance supports increased funding for the Charter Schools Program, a federal program that provides start-up and expansion grants to charter schools. The federal Charter Schools Program is the only dedicated source of money devoted to funding the creation of new charter schools and to help proven charter schools expand or open new campuses. Right now, the Charter Schools Program is funded at $248 million—less than 1 percent of federal spending on k-12 education, even though 5 percent of all American children attend charter schools. The National Alliance has called for funding to be increased to $330 million.

May 2, 2014

A new report finds inequity in charter school funding continues to expand

A new report published in April 2014 by the School Choice Demonstration Project by the University of Arkansas's Department of Education Reform reveals continued inequality in funding for charter schools persists across the country.

The researchers "identified a funding gap of 28.4 percent, meaning that the average public charter school student in the U.S. is receiving $3,814 less in funding than the average traditional public school student. Since the average charter school enrolls 400 students, the average public charter school in the U.S. received $1,525,600 less in per-pupil funding in 2010-11 than it would have received if it had been a traditional public school. The gap is actually higher in focus areas within states where charter schools are more commonly found, such as major cities."

Here are some excerpts:
The revenue study is based on Fiscal Year 2010‒11 (FY11) data for each of 30 selected states plus the District of Columbia. Traditional school districts and public charter schools were analyzed and aggregated “statewide.”

Magnitude of Disparity: If, in aggregate, districts in the 30 states and D.C. received the same level of per pupil funding as charter schools in FY11, they would have received $110,860,725,324 less in total revenues.

The loss in revenues to a single charter school is enormous. For a charter school enrolling 400 students in FY11, the school received $1,525,600 (weighted) less on average than would have been the case if funding were equalized between district and charter schools.

In FY11 districts received $3,509 more per pupil than charter schools, a 54.5% increase since FY03 (inflation- adjusted). The funding gap has increased significantly since FY03 while charter enrollment has increased in every state and in Washington, D.C., in the same period. District enrollment has decreased in D.C. and in 16 of the 24 states included in this study since FY03 (Methods used for weighted calculations are found in the Appendix).

During the FY07 to FY11 period, total funding declined for districts in seven states, while total funding declined for charter schools in 14 states.

By FY11, charter schools nationwide lost $555 per pupil from the total funds received in FY07 ($9,419), while school districts gained $233 per pupil from their total FY07 funding ($11,389).

Click here to download and read the entire or state-by-state report.

March 14, 2014

SABIS charter school in Holyoke advocates lifting state caps on Massachusetts charter schools

Gloria Urbina’s daughter, Anya Torres, is in seventh grade at Holyoke Community Charter School, and Urbina wants her to stay through high school. Urbina likes the school’s uniforms, the feeling of community, the leadership training, and the attitude of teachers.

Holyoke Community students Mariah C. Santiago and Ashley E. DeJesus
“They tell kids every day you’re expected to do your best, to dream big,” Urbina said. “It’s a positive environment. They work hard.”

Today, the school only goes until eighth grade. School Director Sonia Correa-Pope said the school wants to expand, but is stymied by the state charter school cap, which limits the school to 702 students. It would need to add another 200 to 250 students to open a high school, Correa-Pope said.

Correa-Pope is part of a coalition of charter school advocates who are asking the legislature to lift the cap for underperforming school districts, like Holyoke. She points out that students at Holyoke Community Charter School, including subgroups of Latino students, low-income students, and English language learners, outperformed Holyoke public school students on statewide standardized tests in 2013.

“We want children to graduate from our school, and from there we want to track students at a college level and make sure they’re graduating college,” Correa-Pope said.

Charter schools are allowed to have more flexibility with curriculum, length of the school day, teacher pay and hiring than typical public schools. They are tuition-free and draw from the general population of a school district, with admission generally by a lottery system. The money the state would pay to the public school to educate that student is paid to the charter school, although the school district is still reimbursed for part of the cost of that student.

The charter school movement got a boost in 2010 when the legislature increased the number of charter schools in lower-performing districts. Overall, for the 2013-2014 school year, there were 35,300 students enrolled in 81 charter schools, with 53,500 on the waiting list, according to the state Department of Education.

Currently, a low-performing district cannot spend more than 18 percent of its school budget on charter schools. (Other districts cannot spend more than 10 percent.) The proposed bills, H. 425, sponsored by Rep. Russell Holmes, a Boston Democrat, and S. 235, sponsored by Sen. Barry Finegold, an Andover Democrat, would remove the existing cap on charter schools in school districts performing in the lowest 10 percent. The bill would also make it easier for charter schools to get approval in low-performing districts and would remove schools in those districts from counting toward a statewide cap, which limits the state to 72 charter schools.

In Western Massachusetts, Holyoke and Greenfield are classified as low-performing districts that cannot have any more charters under the cap, according to the Massachusetts Charter Public Schools Association. Holyoke currently has two charter schools - Holyoke Community Charter and Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School. Greenfield has Four Rivers Charter Public.

Springfield and Chicopee are also in the lowest performing 10 percent of districts, and each has two charters still available under the cap, according to the Association. Springfield currently has four charter schools - Baystate Academy Charter Public School, Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence, Sabis International Charter and Veritas Preparatory Charter School. Another one, Springfield Preparatory Charter School, plans to open in 2015. Chicopee has the Hampden Charter School of Science.

The bill would also affect regular district schools. Massachusetts schools are ranked from level one, the highest-performing, to level five, the lowest-performing. The bill would give additional flexibility to some level three schools to take actions such as lengthening the school day, dismissing poorly performing teachers or administrators and hiring without regard to seniority.

Proponents of the bill argue that if there is a desire for more charter schools, and the schools have good results, there is no reason not to expand them. “We shouldn’t be putting a cap on success,” said Paul Grogan, president of the Boston Foundation and a leader in the pro-charter school coalition. “How can we possibly justify putting arbitrary limits on educational strategies that are working well?”

The cap has a particularly big impact in Boston, where student demand far exceeds space in charter schools. Holmes, the bill’s sponsor, said charter schools can help improve existing racial inequities by providing students with more choices. Holmes said in the area where he lives, in Mattapan, the neighborhood is 92 percent black or Latino, and there is a single level two school and no level one schools. “That begins to tell you why this legislation is so important,” he said.

Critics of the bill, including teachers’ unions, argue that charter schools take money from the state’s public schools.

Paul Toner, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, said lifting the cap “would drain more resources away from regular public schools.” Toner said many of the most motivated teachers and parents leave regular schools for charter schools. In addition, district money is taken from the public schools, but those schools still have to operate the same number of classrooms.

“If the charter schools are doing something that’s a help for students, that’s working and replicable, we should be doing it in our regular district schools rather than exporting education to charter schools,” Toner said.

Superintendent of Springfield Schools Daniel Warwick said while charter schools offer parents greater educational choices, the cost is high for public schools. “Lifting the cap would create a huge problem and exacerbate the difficult budget issues we already face,” Warwick said. He said Springfield spends nearly $40 million annually to fund charter and school choice programs. “Those are resources that we’d rather spend within our schools on the children whose parents have entrusted us with their education and care,” Warwick said. “Unfortunately, the reverse is true and we’re forced to make cuts in our schools to account for the millions of dollars we have to pay out for charter schools and School Choice.”

Not all charter schools have had exemplary results. Since 1994, according to the Department of Education, four charter schools had their charters revoked; eight voluntarily surrendered their charters after opening; and two have not renewed their charters, which last for five years. In 2010, the state revoked the charter of the Robert M. Hughes Academy in Springfield after a cheating scandal on Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests. Springfield’s New Leadership Charter School closed in 2013 after failing to improve its academic, financial and management performance and being told that a charter renewal was unlikely.

The legislation is currently pending in the Joint Committee on Education. The committee has until March 19 to refer the legislation to the full House and Senate. If the committee does not act by then, the bill is unlikely to pass this session.

Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, a Boston Democrat and committee co-chair, could not say Wednesday whether the bill would be released from the committee. “We are working hard to get to yes on giving more room for charter operators that are doing really well to expand,” Chang-Diaz said. “We want to do so without taking tools out of the toolbox of district schools that are showing great promise.”

Committee co-chair Rep. Alice Peisch, a Wellesley Democrat, said she is hopeful the bill will be reported out. “We just have a few relatively small details to work out,” she said Wednesday.

Peisch said she is generally supportive of the bill. “I think the bill strikes a good balance,” she said. “It provides some more flexibility for district schools while at the same time hopefully allowing some of the charter schools that have had some real success to be able to serve more students.”(Click here to read complete article at MassLive.)

March 9, 2014

SABIS boys win third Western Mass. title in five years, advancing to State championship semifinals

AMHERST— Seconds away from winning his third Western Massachusetts boys basketball championship, Sabis senior guard Nelson Zayas checked out of the game and received a standing ovation from the Bulldogs cheering section at the Curry Hicks Cage.

SABIS' Nelson Zayas drives to basket on his way to victory.
After scoring a game-high 24 points to lead top-seeded Sabis past No. 3 Hoosac Valley, 71-56, Saturday afternoon, Zayas walked over to the water cooler for a drink and joined with coach John Williams in an embrace.

"I just told him I love him,” Williams said. “I love all my kids. We always stress that we are family."

Zayas joined the Sabis basketball team as an eighth-grader and in five season played in seven playoff games at the Curry Hicks Cage. During his eighth-grade season, Sabis defeated Hoosac Valley in the Division II championship en route to a state championship.

“It was crazy,” Zayas said. “I didn’t get much playing time, as an eighth-grader. It’s a little weird, you know, starting with them and now ending in my last year playing against them. They’re a good team. “

In his freshman season, Zayas again returned to Cage and won the Western Mass. Division II championship, this time not as a bench-warmer behind Sabis 1,000-point scorers Andre King and Kamali Bey, but as catch-and-shoot role player.

“I was a freshman , it was the first year I actually got some playing time. I was nervous as can be,” Zayas said. “Like always, my teammates helped me out, encouraged me, and fed me the ball. They’re the reason why I play so confident.  (Click here to read complete article.)

No. 2 Hoosac Valley girls basketball wins second consecutive Western Mass. title, 72-41 over No. 1 Sabis

AMHERST — The division, the seed and the expectations were different for the Hoosac Valley Regional girls basketball team in its second consecutive trip to the Curry Hicks Cage, but the result was exactly the same.

The No. 2 Hurricanes’ active full-court defense challenged and frustrated No. 1 Sabis in the Division III Western Mass. girls basketball final Saturday afternoon, as Hoosac Valley ran away with a 72-41 victory to repeat as Western Mass. champs. Last season, as a No. 7 seed, the Hurricanes, of Cheshire, defeated Berkshire County rival Drury in the Division II final at The Cage.

The defensive pressure that has been Hoosac Valley’s calling card all season led to 26 Sabis turnovers Saturday afternoon, as the young Bulldogs struggled at times to play at the pace Hoosac Valley set in the first half. Those takeaways led to a number easy points: Hoosac Valley had a 34-24 advantage on points in the paint, and shot 20-for-32 from the free throw line.

“We put in a lot of time into that in practice. We focus on defense mainly, and then that’s how we generate our offense,” said senior Meg Rodowicz.  (Click here to read complete article)

March 8, 2014

SABIS International ousts Mahar Regional to advance to WMass Division III title game

Recorder Staff - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

AMHERST — Alon Chappell had just one basket on Wednesday night, and was it huge. 
The Sabis International Charter School senior’s layup with 6 seconds remaining in the game helped the top-seeded Bulldogs to a tense 43-42 victory over fourth-seeded Mahar Regional School in the WMass Division III boys’ basketball semifinals at Curry Hicks Cage.

The game-winner came just nine seconds after Mahar big man Jake Paul had drained a pair of clutch free throws to put the Senators back in front. Mahar led nearly the entire game, but the Senators struggled to score in the third quarter and early in the fourth, allowing Sabis to get back into the game. After Mahar led the entire way since early in the first quarter, the Bulldogs came back to claim their first lead since that time when Nelson Zayas (game-high 20 points) stole the ball from Mahar guard Malik Adams and scored on a breakaway layup with 3 minutes, 32 seconds left in the fourth quarter for a 36-35 lead. Mahar scored the next five points to take a 40-36 lead, but Sabis hung around. Mahar’s Nick Slattery had a chance to make things difficult for Sabis with 52.3 seconds left when he went to the free-throw line but missed both shots to keep Sabis down by two at 40-38. Zayas made Mahar pay as Sabis worked the ball up to the guard and Zayas hit an off-balanced, 12-footer as he was fouled to tie the score. The ensuing free throw was good and Sabis had a 41-40 lead with 42.7 seconds left, setting up the dramatic ending.

Sabis advanced to Saturday’s 4 p.m. WMass Division III title game, where it will take on third-seeded Hoosac Valley Regional High School.  (Click here to read entire article.)

No. 1 Sabis, No. 2 Hoosac Valley set to square off in Western Mass. Division III girls basketball finals

By Jim Pignatiello, MassLive.com - March 07, 2014

AMHERST – It’s been 13 months since the Hoosac Valley High School girls basketball team has lost to a Western Massachusetts opponent.

The second-seeded Hurricanes (21-1) enter Saturday’s Western Massachusetts Division III final against No. 1 Sabis (19-5) having won 27 straight against teams from the region, including 19-0 this year.

The teams square off at 2:15 p.m. at Curry Hicks Cage in a championship doubleheader for the schools. The boys teams play in the Division III final immediately following.

Hoosac won the Division II title last year before moving down in realignment. The Hurricanes enjoyed an absolutely dominant season, with all victories by double digits. That has carried into the postseason with a 32-point win over Mount Greylock in the quarterfinals and a 31-point win over Granby Tuesday.  (Click here to read entire article)

February 15, 2014

Killing the golden goose

Charter schools are working, but New York’s mayor wants to stop them

The Economist: Feb 15th 2014 | CHICAGO AND NEW YORK

OF THE 658 schools in Chicago, only 126 are charter schools—publicly funded but independently run and largely free of union rules. Fifteen more are due to open this year. More notable, though, is that four of the most recently-approved charters are in areas where the city recently decided to close 49 public schools—the largest round of such closures in America’s history.

Most of the closed schools served poor black children, and were in parts of the city with a shrinking population. The city government argued that these schools were under-used, and that closing them would save $233m that could be reinvested. So it has been: in new science labs, computers, wireless, libraries, art rooms and air conditioning in the charters that took in children from the closed schools.

Charters have worked well in Chicago. Most parents like them, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Board of Education are behind them. The Noble Network, which already runs 14 charter high schools, has just been given permission to open two new ones. Around 36% of the 9,000, mostly poor, children enrolled with Noble can expect to graduate from college, compared with 11% for this income bracket city-wide.

A 2013 study by Stanford University found that the typical Illinois charter pupil (most of them in Chicago) gained two weeks of additional learning in reading, and a month in maths, over their counterparts in traditional public schools. One city network of charters, Youth Connection, is credited with reducing Chicago’s dropout rate by 7% in a decade. Overall, however, the city’s public schools are in a sorry state: 51,000 out of 240,000 elementary-school pupils did not meet state reading standards in 2013.

Some will always argue that charters cream off the brighter children and leave sink schools, deprived of resources, behind. The teachers’ unions hate charter schools because they are non-unionised. So they remain a rarity nationwide, with only 5% of children enrolled in them. But a PDK/Gallup poll last year found that 70% of Americans support them. Small wonder: a study of charter high schools in Florida found that they boosted pupils’ earning power in later life by more than 10%.

Click here to read full article in The Economist.

February 13, 2014

The SABIS® Story - Book Preview

Charter School Student Population Tops 2.5 Million

According Education Week, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools found that about 600 new charter schools opened in the 2013-14 school year. Nationwide, about 6,400 charter schools are serving 2.5 million students, with the schools growing seven percent last year.
Nina Rees, President of NAPCS

"This is the largest increase in the number of students attending charter schools we've seen since tracking enrollment growth," said Nina Rees, National Alliance president and CEO.

About 200 charter schools closed due to financial reasons, low enrollment, or poor academic performance. "The goal of the charter school movement is not simply to increase the number of schools and students enrolled, but rather the number of high-quality public school options for families who need them most. These closures reflect that and we will continue to advocate for strong accountability measures to ensure that only high-quality schools are allowed to serve our nation’s students,” Rees said.

California, Arizona, and Florida led the country with the largest number of new charter schools. California, Arizona and Texas led with the greatest number of new students. California also topped the list for the highest number of school closures. (Source: NAPCS Charter News Daily)

February 6, 2014

Karen Reuter of SABIS International Charter School represents charter schools in WGBY TV's "Connecting Point" program

School Choice Week | Connecting Point | Jan. 27, 2014 Published on Jan 28, 2014

National School Choice Week (@schoolchoicewk) is January 26 to February 1 and highlights the different schooling options available.  It includes the popular public and private options, but we are going to learn about lesser known ones such as homeschooling, school choice, and charter schools.  Huda Alawa is representing the homeschool angle, Karen Reuter of SABIS International Charter School in Springfield is representing the charter angle, and Jamie Gass from Pioneer Institute is representing the overall school choice position.

Successful 'Edupreneurs' Reignite For-Profit Debate

By Michael Horn, Contributor
Forbes - January 31, 2014: (Click here to read entire article.)

Frederick M. Hess, the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and I coauthored this piece.

Julie Petersen’s piece, “For Education Entrepreneurs, Innovation Yields High Returns” in Education Next (full disclosure: we are both executive editors at the journal that published the article) ignited the familiar hand wringing and invectives about the proper role of for-profits in education in the Twitter-sphere this past week.

The piece does a terrific job profiling three education entrepreneurs who created for-profit companies that all had successful exits in recent years: Larry Berger, who started Wireless Generation, which was sold to News Corporation in a $360 million deal and now underpins News Corporation’s Amplify division; Jonathan Harber, who started SchoolNet, which Pearson acquired in a $230 million deal; and Ron Packard, who started K12, Inc., which went public at the end of 2007 and had revenues of $848 million last year. Peterson also raises some tricky and important questions—and seeks to draw some lessons from the success of these entrepreneurs—about a sector that is desperate for innovation from entrepreneurs and yet one that has been famously resistant to the innovations they have to offer.

Although there have been some signs in recent years that public school educators may be starting to open their minds about working with entrepreneurs who start for-profit companies, the all-too predictable reaction from many on Twitter about the “disgust” of reading about “exit stories” from entrepreneurs in education, provides some clues as to why the sector has been so resistant to working with outside innovators.

But as we wrote in our recent book, Private Enterprise and Public Education, the conversation around for-profits in education all too often misses the boat—on both sides of the conversation.

Critics often accuse school reformers of “privatizing” public education. When for-profits enter the conversation, those same critics level more serious charges and often accuse those companies of having one motive: making money off of the backs of kids.

On the other hand, when education entrepreneurs who have chosen to incorporate as for-profits are asked why for-profit, their answer is typically benign and makes the case that there is very little difference between for-profits and non-profits. As Daphne Koller, CEO of Coursera, a for-profit education company, said in an interview with EdSurge, “The notion of for profit and nonprofit is a red herring.”

But if that’s the case, then why bother with for-profits in public education at all? If they are all the same, then do for-profits bring any unique benefits? If the answer is no, then we could allow only non-profits and government-run organizations to operate with public education funds to ease the skeptics’ worries.

Ultimately we conclude that Koller has a point. In many ways the delineation between for-profit and non-profit is a red herring—that is, when it comes to asking whether an organization is good or bad or of high or low quality. There are plenty of for-profits that do great things in education with public funds, and there are several that don’t; but the same is true with both non-profit and governmental organizations. Stating whether an organization is for-profit or non-profit says little about whether it is doing good things for students.

Indeed, the charge that for-profits are only about making money off the backs of kids doesn’t make much sense. Sure, for-profits certainly want to make money. No surprise there. But to make money, they need to sell products and services. To do that successfully, there have to be willing buyers on the other end of that transaction. If buyers find their products to be of no value, then the companies won’t make money, which gives them an incentive to fulfill the jobs to be done of their customers and build and deliver great products and services.

That said, because laws and regulations govern public education and the government is the ultimate customer for for-profits in public education, policy shapes demand. One of our big conclusions then is that if we have sensible policies and quality control mechanisms that foster smart demand, for-profits can indeed be a force for good.

Non-profits though have these same dynamics in many ways, as they have to create sustainable business models that perform services that their customers—sometimes donors who may not be their users—value.

But that returns us to the original question we posed. If there isn’t much difference between for-profits and non-profits, then why bother taking the risk with folks who are out to make a dime on behalf of shareholders (in the case of for-profits)?

The answer is that because for-profits have owners, they bring some unique strengths compared to non-profit and governmental organizations, including the ability, on average, to attract capital far more easily—not unimportant in a field where people are always clamoring for more dollars. With the ability to raise capital more easily comes an ability to scale faster and to attract top talent with different types of compensation packages. With a focus on the bottom line and a consequent need to provide customers with something for which they are willing to pay, they are often able to move more nimbly in the pursuit of serving the customer, innovating, and boosting productivity. These can be tremendous assets worth explaining and harnessing properly in public education.

By the same token, the volume also explains that these assets are the flip side of real weaknesses. Because for-profits seek to make money and grow, their desire to cut costs and boost productivity can, at times, cause dubious actors to cut corners or market themselves in deceptive ways. If policies incentivize bad things, then for-profits may scale readily by doing work that is not beneficial to society. Similarly, the incentive to grow can cause for-profits to be less rooted in community institutions than non-profits, less stable, and more willing to cut services or personnel.

What this all means is that ultimately the conversation of for-profit vs. non-profit vs. governmental organization is the wrong one. Instead we should be exploring policies that focus on student outcomes and create a climate that rewards good actors and punishes the bad—regardless of tax status. It also means that for-profits need to be a part of the equation so that the public can leverage their unique strengths.

Pieces like Petersen’s that explore the success stories—and draw appropriate lessons from those successes along with raising real questions—can only help us do just that.

February 3, 2014

SABIS' International Academy of Flint makes the grade

FLINT -- How does your child's school stack up?

A Michigan magazine is reporting which schools made the grade by rating them based on test scores and income levels.

When Rachel Portis and her three kids moved from Genesee Township to Flint, sending her children to the International Academy of Flint was a no-brainer.

"This school, couple people I worked with had good ratings about this school so I decided to try it," said Portis.   Her experience, so far, has been a positive one.

"I am so happy," she said.  And so are educators.   "Our director yesterday sent out a great memo to everybody way to go staff! Congratulations," said Art Wezlaff, Director of School and Community Relations at International Academy of Flint.

The school was named an "Academic State Champ" in Michigan's Bridge Magazine.   The International Academy was ranked in the top 10% of 540 Michigan schools.

"Looked at raw test scores and compare them with percentage of free and reduced lunch at each school and then compare those schools to similar schools that have the same percentage of free and reduced lunch," explained Ron French, senior writer at Bridge Magazine.

French says the ranking recognizes "at risk" schools by taking raw scores into account, however, many schools are exceeding expectations.

"To a frustrating degree test scores track with the income of families," said French.  "We should not be doing-based on those factors-as well as we are so that speaks to, I think-the system we use")

Something parents can attest to.  "My son, he has some challenges and this school has really helped him out a lot, a lot," said Portis.

Bridge magazine ranked 540 Michigan school districts and charter schools.  Several other Mid-Michigan schools made the grade including Davison Schools (35).   Others, including Flint and Beecher Public Schools fell to the bottom of the list.

February 1, 2014

Pictures of the Book tour ("From Village School to Global Brand") in October 2012

October 9, 2012, in Boston, Massachusetts

October 10, 2012, in Washington, DC.
Jeanne Allen, former President of the Center for Education Reform, moderates the panel discussion, which included Carl Bistany, SABIS President, James Tooley, author of "From Village School", and the Hon. John Engler, Former Governor of Michigan.
Former Governor of Michigan John Engler comments on the Tooley book and affirms the importance of the private sector in solving the nation's public school challenges.

October 11, 2012, in Brooklyn, NY

January 31, 2014

Kathryn Mauke, of Sabis International Charter School, wins second place at 74th Model Congress at American International College

One of the Sabis delegations took home the best delegation award.
SPRINGFIELD (Massachusetts) - Kathryn Mauke, of Sabis International Charter School, won the second place prize at the 74th Model Congress at American International College.

Mauke received a four-year, half-tuition scholarship to AIC.

Three other Sabis students, Darian Barlow, Catherine Lupien and Michael Savoie, received honorable mention awards.

More than 200 high school students attended this year's Model Congress Jan. 9 through 11. The student legislators came from schools throughout Massachusetts, as well as Connecticut, New Hampshire and New York.

Sabis International delegations to the 74th annual Model Congress at AIC.
The three day event, the longest running event of its kind in the country, is designed to give high school students the opportunity to engage in the legislative process firsthand and stimulate an interest in the process of government. Model Congress participants write, amend, debate and vote on a variety of bills during the competition, many of which closely resemble bills currently before the U.S. Congress.

Faculty and staff members judged the participants on their debating skills and knowledge of parliamentary procedure.

Legislation filed by the Sabis delegations included the Legalizing Industrial Growth of Hemp in its Totality, or LIGHT, bill to legalize the production of industrial hemp (cannabis sativa) on U.S. soil.

They also submitted legislation that would make illegal the administration of procedures constituting recreational genetic recombination to the public. Other Sabis participants were Matthew Stevens, Devin Bushey, Abby Sullivan, Ariana Surprise, Alaya Ayala, Brian LaValley, Maggie McCarthy, Krystal Vasquez, Ashley Downes, Chris Gonzalez, Justin Green Williams, Savannah Taylor and Mariah Wilson and faculty advisors Dean Berry and Erin Mulvagh. (Click here for the full story.)

January 30, 2014

SABIS International Academy of Flint is tops among Genesee County public schools in statewide Bridge academic rankings

International Academy of Flint
GENESEE COUNTY, MI – Art Wenzlaff says consistency has been key for International Academy of Flint in gathering recognition for its educational program.

International Academy of Flint topped Genesee County schools on Bridge Magazine’s Best Schools statewide rankings released Tuesday, Jan. 28 -- coming in 12th out of 540 districts -- while other local districts find themselves in the lower half of the statistical analysis.

[The International Academy of Flint also ranked number 4 among charter schools in Michigan.]

“We stick to our guns and I think part of the reason we do so well is that we are consistent,” said Wenzlaff, director of school and community relations at International Academy. “When they come to talk with us about our school, and we have meetings, open houses… it’s a consistent message backed by a consistent curriculum, backed by consistent teachers.”

Davison was the next closest finisher in Genesee County, ranking 35 out of 540 districts across the state. Grand Blanc, Carman-Ainsworth and Montrose rounded out the top 5 finishers in the county.

“Certainly, we try to provide a well-rounded system to meet the needs of all our students and this study supports that," said Eric Lieske, Davison superintendent. "The district does view these rankings as helpful. Anytime a parent can gain more accurate information about a school district, the better decision they can make about their child’s education.”

He also gave credit to employees in the district. "We have a great staff that believes in and practices our ‘kids first’ philosophy along with supportive parents, businesses and a community that truly make Davison a destination school district.” Near the bottom of the list is Westwood Heights at 474, Madison Academy in Flint at 489, Genesee at 496, Flint at 511 and Beecher coming in at 535.

Beecher Superintendent Josha Talison said part of the key to make schools there better is a focus on improving the system of teaching and learning, along with showing their improvements to people who may be looking for a school to send their children.

Talison noted some of the changes in the educational system at Beecher have included moving toward a common way of teaching and trying to align to common core standards, as well as documenting student growth and in-house quarterly assessments of staff and a partnership with the University of Michigan-Flint.

"Parents do that, they should around and look at numbers," he said of test scores, adding it is a number-driven society, and "Until we get those standardized test scores up, people are going to say you are 535 out of 540."

A Flint schools spokesman could not be reached for comment Monday, Jan. 27.

The report factored in standardized test scores from the past three years -- MME, MEAP and ACT -- as well as the number of students receiving free or reduced lunch.

Of the accolades for International Academy, including placement in the top-10 of Bridge's 2013 rankings, as well as the high school being named one of the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Wenzlaff said, “We are very proud of any designation that we get."

"It’s a big deal. By no means does that become old hat. We share that information with our kids and our parents,” he said.

Wenzlaff said the parents at International Academy, a K-12 school on South Saginaw Street of more than 1,100 students, “play a major role in any award that we get.” The parents create a connection to education once children leave the building and continue learning at home, he said.

He noted the school is also flexible in terms of changing up curriculum, which Wenzlaff said is college preparatory “all the way from the little guys to seniors.” Students must submit an acceptance letter to an institution of higher learning before they graduate.

“If it takes them another semester of being prepared, that’s what it takes,” said parent Tracy Dumas-Barnes, who moved her 19-year-old son Ramone Dumas and 14-year-old Davon Barnes to International Academy from Flint Community Schools.  (Click on MLive to read the entire article.)