National Charter Schools Conference: 13 Sessions to See This Week in Washington, D.C.

Courtesy of National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
Leading educators and public education innovators from across the country descend on Washington, D.C., starting today for the National Charter Schools Conference, an annual gathering of the country’s public charter school community.

“We’re thrilled to host this year’s National Charter Schools Conference in Washington, D.C. — a city with one of the most robust charter school movements in the country, and a city where national leaders are making major decisions about every student's future,” Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, told The 74. “There’s no denying that this feels like a strange time in national politics, but no matter where public school educators land on the political spectrum, it’s so important for them to get involved.”

As Rees wrote about the public charter school movement in a recent op-ed for The 74, “The Trump administration’s policies have put us in a difficult spot.”

Over the course of three days, public educators and policymakers will have dozens of opportunities to get involved and have their voices heard — attending and presenting at workshops and panels, hearing from keynote speakers, including Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Capital Preparatory Schools founder Steve Perry, and taking in remarks from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who is delivering an address on Tuesday morning and will be interviewed by 74 contributor Derrell Bradford. (You can submit your questions for DeVos here).

(The 74: Richard Whitmire — Why Do Reed Hastings and Other Big Donors Prefer Charter Schools? (Hint: It’s Not Because They Hate Unions)

In advance, The 74 is opening up its reporters notebook, sharing with you info and ideas on must-see sessions and providing essential background reading.

Monday 6/12 @ 9:25 a.m.

Session: Opening Remarks by Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

Notes: Rees will set the tone for the conference with opening remarks.

Background reading: Rees: The Charter School Movement Meets in Washington, D.C., at a Pivotal Moment

Monday, 6/12 @ 10 a.m.

Session: The Broad Prize: Impact of 2016 Award & Announcement of 2017 Winner

Notes: And the winner is … As Rees told The 74 about the announcement, “…the conference is a time to celebrate the amazing work of our 26-year-old movement and the trailblazers who make it possible. We’ll be announcing the sixth winner of the annual Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools.”

Background reading: Denver, Texas, NYC: Meet the 3 Finalists for This Year’s $250,000 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools

Monday, 6/12 @ 11:15 a.m.

Session: A Match Made in Heaven: Career and Technical Education Charter Schools

Notes: Tamar Jacoby (Opportunity America), Kristin Kearns-Jorden (Urban Assembly), Michael Petrilli (Fordham Institute), Yves Samake (Ritz Carlton), and Tori Stephens-Shauger (Ace Leadership High School) discuss how public charter schools are uniquely suited to deliver on the promise of rigorous, job-aligned career and technical education.

Background reading: Career and Technical Ed Should Be ‘Plan A,’ Foxx Says as House Takes Up Perkins Bill Today

Monday, 6/12 @ 11:15 a.m.

Session: Great Schools by Us, for Us: African-American Institutions and Charter Schools

Notes: What is the role of black institutions in the charter school movement? This question has received significant attention over the past several months, as civil rights groups have sparred about the role and power of school choice for black families. This session features Ronald Rice, of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools; Pier Blake, of Jack & Jill of America, Inc.; Shirley Franklin, former mayor of Atlanta; Florida Congressman Al Lawson; and Paulette C. Walker, of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., in conversation.

Background reading: Rice: NAACP’s Anti-Charter Vote Was Disheartening — but What Happened on the Streets of Cincinnati Wasn’t

Monday, 6/12 @ 11:15 a.m.

Session: The School Choice “Movement”: Where Do You Stand? Where Should We Stand?

Notes: The “big tent” of education reform has started to feel smaller lately, as public charter school advocates and private school advocates have struggled to find common ground. Derrell Bradford, of NYCAN/50CAN and a 74 contributor; Susan Miller Carello, of SUNY Charter Schools Institute; Peter Cunningham, of Education Post; Colleen Dippel, of Families Empowered; and Kevin Jenkins, of City Strategy Group, will discuss the challenges and opportunities of collaboration and division across the parent choice movement.

Background reading (watching): WATCH: 14 Ed Reform Advocates Discuss Politics, Common Ground, and the Radical Middle in Education

Monday, 6/12 @ 4 p.m.

Session: Chartering Early: Partnering With Head Start and Others in the Community

Notes: Washington, D.C., has become a national model for how charter schools can partner with early childhood programs to bring high-quality early learning to students. Jack McCarthy, of AppleTree Institute; Juana Brown, of Redlands Christian Migrant Association; Gail Govoni, of DC Head Start Association; Scott Groginsky, of National Head Start Association; and Ashley LiBetti Mitchel, of Bellwether Education Partners, will discuss the opportunities for charter schools to serve our nation’s youngest learners.

Background reading: Whitmire: Partnering With Charters, AppleTree Plants Seeds for New Approach to Early Childhood Ed

Monday, 6/12 @ 4 p.m.

Session: Parent Voices and How We Effectively Organize and Lift Them

Notes: #ParentPower is the driving force of change in education reform efforts in states and districts across the country. In this session, some of the Super Moms organizing and galvanizing parents across the country — Alma Marquez, of Del Sol Group and La Comadre; Shirley Ford, of Parent Revolution; Maya Martin, of Parents Amplifying Voices in Education; and Mary Najera, of Parent Revolution — will share lessons and strategies for putting parent power to work.

Background reading: Tales of Hope and Desperation for Better Schools

Monday 6/12 @ 4:00 p.m.

Session: Student Perspectives: Lessons Learned in Climbing the Mountain to College Graduation

Notes: “To and through” has become a rallying cry of the charter school movement, which is sending record numbers of alumni to colleges and universities each year, and helping those students, many of whom are first-generation college-goers, earn their diplomas. Author and 74 contributor Richard Whitmire, who has spent months talking to students about their experiences, will moderate a discussion with students about what it takes to make it through.

Background reading: From South LA to the Ivy League: Two Latino H.S. Grads Tell How They Made It and What It Takes to Stay

Tuesday 6/13 @ 8:30 a.m.

Session: Remarks and Q&A with Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education, Moderated by Derrell Bradford, Executive Vice President of 50CAN

Notes: Per NAPCS, “Secretary DeVos’s participation in the National Charter Schools Conference continues a bipartisan tradition of having every sitting Department of Education Secretary since the conference’s launch in 2000 appear at this premier annual gathering for the charter school movement.” (You can submit your questions for DeVos here.)

Background reading: The First 100 Days for the New Education Secretary: How DeVos Stacks Up Against Her Predecessors

Tuesday 6/13 @ 9:30 a.m.

Session: Common Ground: Why Federal Support for Charter Schools Is Bipartisan

Notes: The 74’s Romy Drucker moderates a conversation with U.S. Rep. Luke Messer, R-Indiana, and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colorado, on bipartisan support for charter schools, and how this spirit of collaboration has persisted even in politically challenging times.

Background reading: National Charter Schools Week to Toast 19 State & Federal ‘Champions’ From Both Parties at Capitol Hill

Tuesday 6/13 @ 11 a.m.

Session: Charter Schools and the Every Student Succeeds Act: Ask the Experts

Notes: Christine Wolfe, of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools; Jason Botel, of the U.S. Department of Education; Lindsay Fryer, of Penn Hill Group; and Mike Magee, of Chiefs for Change, discuss changes to the Charter School Program and opportunities for innovation and flexibility under ESSA in service of strengthening public charter schools.

Background reading: Gray & Petrilli: 3 Ways That States Can Improve Low-Performing Schools Under the Every Student Succeeds Act

Tuesday 6/13 @ 11 a.m.

Session: The Power of Social Emotional Learning

Notes: Earl Martin Phalen, CEO of Phalen Leadership Academies in Indiana and Ohio, and Kyle Smitley, CEO and co-founder of Detroit Achievement Academy, will share strategies, approaches, and models for social emotional learning and building a school and classroom culture that supports it.

Background reading: How ‘Turnaround for Children’ Uses Science to Build Social, Emotional Skills in At-Risk Students

Tuesday 6/13 @ 2:00 p.m.

Session: Forming School Action Plans to Protect Undocumented Students

Notes: KIPP’s Mike Feinberg will lead a discussion with Viridiana Carrizales of Teach for America and Laura Vazquez of National Council of La Raza on providing students and families with immigration resources.

Background reading: KIPP Leaders: 4 Critical Areas Secretary DeVos Should Focus On to Ensure All Students Succeed

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