I had the good fortune last week to be part of three inspiring education-related events, on two different coasts. In New York, I represented our growing movement at NBC’s annual Education Nation conference on Monday, and the following day I marched across the Brooklyn Bridge alongside an estimated 20,000 charter school parents, students and teachers. A few days later, in Seattle, I attended the Charter School Growth Fund’s annual retreat where I had the honor of spending time with some of the nation’s highest quality charter school operators. See below for highlights from a few of these events – thanks for your continued support!
President & CEO
March for NYC Kids
The next mayor of New York City is likely to be Bill de Blasio, and he has committed to a moratorium on charter school growth in the city. De Blasio has called for an end to the city’s innovative practice of co-locating charter schools with traditional public schools that are under-enrolled. He also plans on charging rent to charter schools that use city facilities. We think this would be an enormous step backwards.
New York City has been able to attract and grow some of the nation’s best charter schools thanks partly to the city’s generous facilities finance arrangement. On Tuesday, almost 20,000 charter school parents, children, and teachers marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall to urge Mr. de Blasio to reconsider his plans. I was so glad I could be there to support these passionate people and communities across New York City. You can look at some of our favorite pictures from the march on Facebook. You can find more about this issue in this New York Times story.
What does it take – as a nation – to ensure students are successfully prepared for college and beyond? This past week, NBC posed this question as the theme of “Education Nation,” a summit the network has hosted for the past four years, attracting some of the brightest minds in education policy to discuss what’s working in our public schools. We posted the profiles of seven charter schools that have the answer. At each school, 100 percent of graduating seniors are accepted into a four-year college or university. I encourage you to share these tremendous success stories as evidence of what can happen when devoted educators are given the freedom to manage their schools with a “no excuses” mentality focused on results.
What Does ‘A Good School’ Really Mean?
Under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, states are currently required to report to parents about how their schools are performing. Each state has created its own quality assessment criteria and labels, meaning we now have a wide variety of “quality” assessment strategies.
In an effort to come up with a common measure of quality, we recently teamed up with Public Impact to take a comprehensive look at the various approaches in place today. In addition to government assessments, the report also looks at quality assessments and rankings done by private organizations and news outlets, such as the California Charter Schools Association and U.S. News and World Report. You can read the report, Quality School Ratings: Trends in Evaluating School Academic Quality, here.
STEM in Charters
Last year we surveyed charter schools nationwide and found that nearly 20 percent focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). This is good news given the growing demand for a STEM-trained workforce. In an effort to further promote the topic, the National Alliance recently joined STEMConnector, an initiative aimed at connecting organizations, states and companies working to promote STEM education. You can read more about STEM in charter schools in a recent interview I did with Washington Executive magazine.
Conference Session Proposals Being Accepted Now
With a successful 2013 conference behind us, it is time to start planning for next June’s 2014 conference in Las Vegas. We are looking for excellent speakers, informative sessions, and topics that will be engaging and relevant for attendees. We are also looking for presentations on instructional strategies, leadership, effective operations, state and federal policy, and the latest innovations in the field. This is an opportunity for you to share your great work with more than 4,000 people from the charter school community. I encourage you to submit a session proposal online through October 28. If you have questions, or if you’d like to talk to someone about your idea before you submit a proposal, please feel free to reach out to our conference director,Angela Christophe.
Tell Your Story!
StarGroup International is publishing a book next year called Charter Schools: A Choice for Excellence. They are looking for great schools to highlight; parents, students, and teachers to interview; and stories that will help illustrate how charter schools are changing lives. You can read more about what they are looking for here. I hope you’ll take a minute to send in your story or ideas. A book like this can’t come soon enough.
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The National Alliance is a non-profit organization committed to ensuring that every child in America has a high-quality public school option. To do this work, we need your support. Please consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you!