The 2023 National Charter Schools Conference in Austin, Texas brought together over 4,200 charter school leaders, educators, and advocates for four days of learning, networking, and fun. Attendees left the conference re-energized around the important work charter school educators do every day in our schools and ready to make even more of an impact.
The four-day conference featured more than 80 breakout sessions and more than 260 exhibitors—our second year in a row of a sold-out hall!—as well as an empowering slate of keynote speakers.
On the first full day of conference, National Alliance Board President Rick Cruz and President & CEO Nina Rees led the opening general session with welcome remarks and an overview of the state of the movement. Then award-winning principal and best-selling author Principal El took the main stage for an empowering talk on choosing to stay in education during challenging times and cultivating a culture of learning, joy, and resilience—a highlight for many at the conference.
Luma Mufleh, a refugee activist and founder of Fugees Family with private and charter schools in Georgia and Ohio, took the main stage for the second general session, following opening remarks from Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath and the founder and CEO of Equitable Facilities Fund, Anand Kesavan. Luma told her powerful story about the refugee experience of her students, being a coach, and why she founded a school and educational model specifically for refugee children.
In the Exhibit Hall, things were bustling as well. We doubled up on the dedicated programming exclusive to the Exhibit Hall with leadership content focused on engagement and marketing as well as a two-part series, “Hot Topics in Public Education: Igniting Conversation, Empowering Change,” focusing on the topics of parent involvement and the black education experience. We also brought back many fan-favorites like the free headshot bar, massages, therapy puppies, and the Golden Ticket game. Congratulations again to Grand Prize Winner Colundra Owens from Somerset Academy Lone Mountain! One stand-out this year was the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools booth where attendees weighed in on pertinent issues affecting education today.
Additionally, we provided a sneak peek of a recent national survey of public school teachers—at both district and charter schools—conducted by The Harris Poll and commissioned by the National Alliance. The survey examined teachers’ experiences and opinions to learn more about their motivations for entering, staying in, or leaving the classroom, as well as the challenges they believe are facing the American public education system. The full report will be released later this summer.
In recognition of the Juneteenth holiday, which corresponded with the first full day of conference, and its roots in Texan history, we kicked off the day with the Texas Empowerment Academy band. We also offered a virtual reality experience tackling racism walking through the life of a growing Black boy titled 1,000 cut journey, a student “artivism” contest display, a history of Juneteenth exhibit with content from the soon to be opened Juneteenth Museum, and interactive videos on Black history and how it is incorporation into curriculum today.
Thank you again to our over 47 sponsors and 260 exhibitors who were on-site to help with attendees’ most pressing problems and questions! We had many sponsored additions this year, including the Leadership Lab, Hackathon, Google Innovation Lab, and School Specialty Recharge Lounge. The Exhibit Hall is the backbone of our conference and we were thrilled to again offer dedicated time for attendees to network and see what our sponsors and exhibitors have to offer.
We would also be remiss not to thank our over 4,200 attendees. You are the reason we run this successful conference—providing you with the opportunity to connect, share best practices, reinvigorate around our work, and see what makes the charter school movement unique in every way.
Patricia Guidetti is the senior director of programs at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and a producer of the National Charter Schools Conference.