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National Alliance Monthly News – November 2019

National Alliance Monthly News – November 2019

November 27, 2019

My colleagues and I were excited to see Sen. Cory Booker’s recent op-ed in the New York Times calling on his fellow Democrats to stop treating charter schools as “boogeymen” and recognize that “many of these schools are serving low-income urban children across the country in ways that are inclusive, equitable, publicly accountable and locally driven.” Sen. Booker is reflecting a reality captured in a separate New York Times piece, which noted that as presidential candidates have backed away from charter schools, they’ve left many Black and Hispanic families feeling abandoned.

Our own Ron Rice, who was an ally of Sen. Booker in Newark city government, offers a compelling account of the urgency they heard from parents as they worked to improve Newark’s schools. As mayor, Sen. Booker saw the awesome impact a high-quality charter school could have on students, families, and neighborhoods and he’s right to share that perspective with others who may not have as much direct experience with charter schools.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for charter school allies from every party and every background. We’re all united behind the goal of giving children more opportunities for lifelong success—whether that’s a student in an urban neighborhood who needs a better public school, a student with disabilities who needs a school in which all the adults work together to identify and promote her potential, or a student who just wants an educational experience they can’t find anywhere else. Our students and our country need more high-quality charter schools.

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving is Giving Tuesday, and the National Alliance would welcome any contribution you can make to our mission of giving more students access to a high-quality charter school. Please click here to donate. And however you choose to support the charter school movement, thank you!


Nina Rees
President and CEO
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

PS – Save the Date: National Charter Schools Week will be May 10-16, 2020!

Profiles of Leaders of Color: Engaging Families

The National Alliance released the second in a series of reports highlighting the experiences of school leaders of color in charter schools across the country in partnership with Public Impact. This report profiles Maquita Alexander of Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School in Washington, D.C.; Freddy Delgado, superintendent at Amigos Por Vida Charter School in Houston, TX; and Kriste Dragon of Citizens of the World Charter Schools with locations in Los Angeles and Kansas City. They share the belief that their schools should engage families as genuine and active partners in their children’s education. Read the report for the full profiles, as well as op-eds from Nina Rees and Amy Wilkins on lessons to draw from the report.

#EndTheList for Students in DC

Last week, more than 1,000 parents, students, leaders, and supporters of charter schools in our nation’s capital joined a citywide call to action to support charter schools’ access to facilities. Attendees heard from the DC Association of Chartered Public Schools’s Ramona Edelin; Rick Cruz of the D.C. Public Charter School Board; and National Alliance board member Sen. Mary Landrieu, who helped improve D.C.’s laws regarding charter school facilities. Watch this video to learn why Mayor Bower needs to open the doors for more students choosing charter schools, read the impassioned op-ed from Sen. Landrieu and Ramona Edelin, and catch up on the conversation from the event.

Washington Update

The federal budget continues to operate under a Continuing Resolution (CR), which means funding for federal programs, including the Charter Schools Program (CSP), continues to flow at Fiscal Year 2019’s approved levels even though we’re two months into FY 2020. The latest CR, which President Trump signed last week, keeps the government operating through December 20.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education announced the recipients of the 2019 CSP Developer Grants. Eight grantees will receive more than $10 million in funding to open new charter schools, or to replicate or expand existing high-performing schools.

This year’s grantees are: Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico; Catalyst Academy Charter School, PA; Middlesex County STEM Charter School, NJ; Quant Academy, HI; Académie Lafayette, MO; City Garden Montessori School, MO; John P. Holland Charter School, NJ; Mathematics, Science and Technology Charter School (MaST), PA. Congratulations to all the 2019 CSP grantees!

Applications are now open for the FY 2019 CSP Grants for the Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools. A pre-application webinar will be held on Thursday, December 5. Applications are due January 10, 2020. Because Congress is likely to keep funding the federal government through Continuing Resolutions, and due to funding commitments to current grantees, there may not be a competition in 2020. We want you to be aware of this in case you are considering waiting until the next competition to apply. However, if your state has a current State Entity grant, you may still be able to submit an application to your state for replication and expansion if you do not apply to this competition. Please contact us with any questions.

The Department also published details on which states are eligible and ineligible for the CSP State Entities Competition in FY 2020. The updated information includes a list of eligible states, ineligible states, and states eligible only for new activities. It is anticipated that applications for new awards will be published toward the beginning of January 2020.

Join SchoolHouse Connection and the National Alliance for a webinar to learn about requirements and implementation strategies related to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, a federal law that provides rights and services for students experiencing homelessness in all public schools. During the webinar on Friday, December 6, you will learn firsthand best practices from a charter school Homeless Education Liaison and receive a new toolkit to support your work. RSVP for the webinar.

State Update

Major elections were held in several states in November. Here are four states where the outcomes may have a direct impact on the state’s charter school landscape:

Kentucky: Families hoping for charter schools in Kentucky suffered a setback as Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin—a 2017 Champion for Charters—was defeated by Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, a charter school opponent. As a result, the Kentucky charter school law’s funding flaw may not be fixed anytime soon.
Colorado: In another setback for charter school supporters, three union-backed candidates won seats on the school board in Denver, giving a union-controlled majority control of the board. As a result, charter school growth and operation may become significantly more challenging in Denver.
Louisiana: Gov. John Bel Edwards, a charter school opponent, won re-election.
Mississippi: On a positive note, charter school outcomes look promising in the Magnolia State, where Lt. Governor Tate Reeves—a 2013 Champion for Charters—won the governor’s race.
The California Democratic Party recently voted to include union-supported language in its policy platform declaring that public charter schools should be governed by publicly elected boards. If the state were to change public charter school governance in this way, it would undermine the independent nature of the vast majority of the state’s charter schools, which are currently governed by appointed boards. The National Alliance will continue to monitor the situation.

Senior Vice President of State Advocacy and Support Todd Ziebarth weighed in on Connecticut’s charter school funding issues in a news article that also features Dacia Toll of Achievement First. Todd pointed out that the state law’s funding mechanism is antiquated, as is the law itself, which makes it difficult for charter schools to thrive. Connecticut is one of only two states that has a separate line item for charter schools.

Charter School Facilities Update

Is it time for a charter school credit union? Just like other public school communities, charter schools, their employees, and their families need access to myriad financial services, including student loans and college-planning education. This report from the Charter School Facility Center explores the potential for creating a charter school credit union to provide valuable financial services to the charter school community and to serve as a source of loan capital for charter school projects.

Land trusts—though popular in the affordable housing sector—are less widely used for charter schools, even though they could reduce costs for charter school operators and preserve property for educational uses. A new paper provides a high-level overview of the community land trust model and looks at examples of these models in action and their benefits for charter schools.

Earlier this month, the Charter School Facility Center hosted a webinar providing an update on recent activities, Charter Schools Program awards, and national advocacy on behalf of facility funding. The recording is now posted here.

Research Roundup

The National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools (NCSECS) released its third analysis of the Civil Rights Data Collection. The report, Key Trends in Special Education in Charter Schools in 2015-2016, finds that charter schools are enrolling more students with disabilities than in the past and highlights areas for continued growth. You may also want to read NCSECS’s recent joint report with the Center on Reinventing Public Education, Seizing the Opportunity: Educating Students with Disabilities in Charter Schools, which examines charter schools with successful records for educating students with disabilities and identifies the core principles that drove their success.

From The Charter Blog

National STEM Day was in early November and Starlee Coleman, CEO of the Texas Charter Schools Association, took a moment to recognize Harmony Public Schools, which are successfully pursuing their mission of encouraging students in underserved communities to pursue STEM fields.

Great Talent Needed!

The National Alliance is on the hunt for a new Vice President of Communications. This is a highly strategic role, responsible for both the development and implementation of the National Alliance’s communications and public relations strategy during a critical time for the charter school movement. Please see the job description for more details.

We are also seeking a Vice President of State Advocacy and Support to lead a new scope of work at the National Alliance that will be a resource for the entire movement. The VP of State Advocacy and Support will lead the Advocacy Infrastructure Project, build advocacy strength in states, spot trends, capture and share knowledge nationwide, and deploy resources where they are most needed at any given time. The job description has more details.

We are also looking for a Coordinator of Communications and Marketing. The person in this role will collaborate with all departments to manage the execution of major public relations campaigns and publication releases. Please pass the word and tip us off to any great candidates you know.

Don’t forget to visit our Charter School Job Board, which includes job openings for a variety of positions across the country. It’s a great resource for organizations looking to hire and for individuals looking to make a difference in the lives of students.

Support the National Alliance

The National Alliance is a non-profit organization that relies on generous partners like you. Please consider supporting the growth and sustainability of charter schools by making a tax-deductible gift or adding your name to our advocacy list. Thank you! 

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