National Alliance for Public Charter Schools http://www.publiccharters.org Thu, 28 May 2015 19:16:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Increase in Charter School Enrollment According to 2015 Condition of Education http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/condition-of-education/ http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/condition-of-education/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 16:38:58 +0000 http://www.publiccharters.org/?p=9047 According to the newly released 2015 Condition of Education from the National Center for Education Statistics, the education landscape is shifting. Caitlin Emma and her team at Politico write today that there is a steady growth in charter schools since 1999.

“Since the 1999-2000 school year, the number of charter schools has grown about 300 percent. There were about 6,100 charters in the 2012-13 school year, vs. about 1,500 in ‘99. Over the same time, the proportion of small charter schools has shrunk. Back then, the overwhelming majority of charters had fewer than 300 students; now, it’s only about half. About half of all charters used to be dominated by white students; that’s changed too: Now the student body at only about a third of charters is majority white. More than half of all charters are based in cities, and more than two-thirds are located in the South or West.”

For more data about the prevalence of charter schools, readers can check out our Estimated Number of Public Charter Schools & Students from February 2015 or a state-by-state analysis of the Health of the Charter School Movement from last fall. 

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Be EPIC with REACTOR at the #NCSC15 Brand Impact Workshop http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/be-epic/ http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/be-epic/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 16:00:46 +0000 http://www.publiccharters.org/?p=9010 We’re thrilled to be returning to the National Charter Schools Conference to present our Brand Impact Workshop for the second year in a row. We had an awesome time last year working with attendees to evaluate current brands, share best practices and set goals to guide marketing efforts, and we’ve added some new content to this year’s workshop to keep things fresh and fun!

If communications is part of your job description, it may seem unmanageable to find time to plan, post, tweet, publish, produce and create quality content and materials. However, even though your school may not be primarily focused on branding and marketing, they are still critically important to building equity in the form of community support and goodwill. At REACTOR Design Studio, we believe in the power of being E.P.I.C., or Engaging People in Conversation. Your school is designed in a way that encourages all students to thrive, but without a solid brand and effective marketing that gets people talking, you may be fighting an uphill battle to communicate with stakeholders, find success in fundraising or fight stigmas in the community.

The Brand Impact Workshop is a unique opportunity because branding and marketing are traditionally underrepresented as subject areas at the National Charter Schools Conference, but they’re topics that every school needs, whether established or start-up, big or small, urban or rural. We’ll give you the tools to critically assess your current efforts and to bring your ideas to life through concrete goals and strategies. We loved leading last year’s Brand Impact Workshop, not only because we got a chance to share and problem solve with everyone, but also because we enjoyed seeing the connections being forged during peer-to-peer discussion and having authentic conversations about your communications challenges and dreams.

When we’re not hosting the Brand Impact Workshop, where can you find us at #NCSC15? Before the sessions start, we’ll be celebrating at the Welcome Reception Parade to kick off NCSC in fabulous NOLA style. While we want to spend most of our time at the conference hanging out with all of you, we’re also hoping to carve out a few hours to walk through the French Quarter, admire the incredible historic architecture and experience some delicious New Orleans cuisine (jambalaya, gumbo, po’ boys and, of course, beignets… YUM)!

We were honored to receive the #1 workshop rating out of all of the sessions last year, and we hope to see you in our session this year! It’s going to be EPIC!

See you in NOLA!

The REACTOR team (Clifton, Chase, Emily & Julie)

 

Note: The brand impact workshop covers branding, marketing and PR/buzz, but if there’s something in particular that you want to learn about in the session, let us know and we’ll do our best to incorporate it! You can email us at hello@yourreactor.com, message us on Facebook or send us a tweet @reactorkc.

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Thirteen Years Later, I’m Still an Ambassador for Charter Schools http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/thirteen-years-later/ http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/thirteen-years-later/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 15:00:12 +0000 http://www.publiccharters.org/?p=9017 This is the story of my senior year of high school, when I was applying to colleges in the early aughts. I was like a lot of students from my California hometown, applying for some public UCs and a few private schools in-state and back east (also known as “where it snows,” which was generally regarded with skepticism).

But, unlike most of those aspiring freshmen, I was one of twenty kids graduating from my town’s first charter school.

This presented a challenge, as the vast majority of the country didn’t even know what a charter school was back then, including college admissions personnel. My school knew that in some ways this put me at a disadvantage, as my high school experience was going to be approached by admissions officers with a degree of skepticism.

We were a team, me and my school. We had to win those colleges over and convince them not only of my merits as an applicant, but of the merits of my school and the rigor of my high school education. We had to be ambassadors for the charter school movement.

And now, in my career at NACSA, I’m still that ambassador for quality charter schools—but in a different way.

I’m no longer speaking for one great school, but instead speaking for charter school authorizers. In their role as the gatekeepers of the charter movement, authorizers see the best and the worst of the charter sector. They see those schools that are shining stars and changing lives, and those that let our kids down. And while their identities are varied, authorizers are the common denominator in the charter sector. Every charter school in existence now and every charter school that could possibly exist in the future has a charter school authorizer.

This means the impact of authorizing is huge. If an authorizer is doing its job well, it will set the bar high and only great schools will be allowed to open and remain open year after year.

If I can give one authorizer the tools it needs to do its job well, that might mean one more class of high school seniors is preparing for their first day of college.

And, if through policy change I can ensure all authorizers in a state have the tools they need to do their jobs well, that could change a lot.

 

Amanda Fenton is the Director of State and Federal Policy for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. Her blog post originally appeared on the Chartering Quality blog.

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Want to start a charter school and don’t know where to begin? We’re here to help. http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/start-charter-school/ http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/start-charter-school/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 16:06:41 +0000 http://www.publiccharters.org/?p=9004 Each year, the National Charter Schools Conference serves as a great resource for both veterans and those new to the charter school community. It is a great place to meet with people dedicated to improving lives of children around the country and to learn best practices and helpful tips to improve the quality of your school.

This year’s operations strand will feature great information that will help your school chart a course for success, with sessions on topics like how to effectively engage your community and finance your facility.

Are you applying to open a charter school but a little overwhelmed about where to start? Or have you received a charter and plan to open soon? Maybe you’re in your first year of a new school and hitting some roadblocks along the way. If you’re in any of these situations, plan on attending a roundtable discussion I’ll be leading at NCSC15.

“Three Phases of New Schools: Application, Pre-Opening, First Year” will give you a comprehensive look at what you need to know to start a charter school. The session will bring together experts in a variety of areas. From the initial application process to finance, academics, board governance, media and communications, and staff hiring, we will have you covered.

For instance, you’ll hear from Charlene Reid, Executive Director for the Bronx Charter School for Excellence (BCSE) – a nationally-recognized Blue Ribbon School that has been selected to share best practices with a neighborhood district school in the Bronx. BCSE students are proving that zip code doesn’t determine academic success. Charlene is a friend, but also a role model for other school leaders. If you want to hear a success story, you’ll definitely want to hear from her.

I feel strongly about the charter school movement and have been working with schools for 17 years. I’ve guided hundreds of new schools through the opening process and can tell you without a doubt what you need to know. 

Most importantly, I want you to know you’re not alone. We’re here to help. And we want you to succeed.

A new charter school can literally change a child’s life. That’s why this work is so important and why I sincerely want to impart the best information to new applicants early on. And what better city than New Orleans to share that information.

We hope to see you in June!

 

Jill Shahen is Managing Director for the Northeast Charter Schools Network

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National Alliance May Newsletter http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/national-alliance-may-newsletter/ http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/national-alliance-may-newsletter/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 13:51:42 +0000 http://www.publiccharters.org/?p=8941 A Note From Nina

May is always a big month at the National Alliance. We just celebrated National Charter Schools Week (May 3-9), which gave us the opportunity to tout all the great things that are happening in public charter schools nationwide. And last week we released our 2014 Annual Report, which provides information about the many initiatives the National Alliance undertook last year to strengthen the public charter school movement. Titled The Numbers Add Up, our Annual Report highlights key data about the growth of public charter schools, improvements in federal and state policy, and the National Alliance’s impact as a source of research and information for advocates, journalists, and the public. The report also reminds us of a sobering number – there are more than 1 million student names on charter school wait lists. With so many students waiting for their chance to attend a high-quality public charter school, we have much more work to do. You can read my take on how to reduce the wait in this op-ed in the Huffington Post.

Warmly,

Nina Rees
President and CEO


National Charter Schools Week

The National Alliance joined teachers, parents, students, and advocates across the country in celebrating National Charter Schools Week from May 3-9. Here in Washington, we honored our Champions for Charter Schools – policymakers who are going the extra mile to strengthen public charter schools. Be sure to send a tweet or email to thank them for their support! We also held our first ever National Charter Schools Week essay contest, which produced great essays from students telling us why they love their charter school. Check out our blog for the winning essays at the high school, middle school, and elementary school levels. And #CharterSchoolsWeek was a big hit on social media, generating 24 million impressions on Twitter, including 9 million during our TweetUp! For a full recap of all the National Charter Schools Week excitement, including links to President Obama’s National Charter Schools Week proclamation and pictures from our visit to DC’s Thurgood Marshall Public Charter School, visit our summary page here.


Urban Students Are Waiting for Their Chance

Amid all the excitement of National Charter Schools Week, we also released a new report showing that public charter school wait lists are growing in major cities across the country. The report is an eye-opening reminder of how much work we have to do to ensure that every child who wants to attend a public charter school can do so. As we near the end of the school year, let’s commit to doing everything we can to expand the great work going on in our classrooms so that we can welcome all the students waiting for their chance.


Pressing Congress for CSP Funding

At the end of April, Nina testified in front of a U.S. House subcommittee that will help determine the funding level for the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP). Nina urged members to support President Obama’s budget request of $375 million for the CSP to help open new charter schools, expand and replicate high-performing charter schools, and support the financing of charter school facilities. Over the next several months, Congress will determine how much funding each program receives, and the National Alliance will continue our work to increase funding for the CSP. Click here to read the National Alliance’s statement and Nina’s testimony.


CSP in Action: Namaste Charter School

The federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) is critical to meeting the growing demand for high-quality public charter schools. The CSP provides essential funding to help new schools purchase books and equipment, hire school leaders, and finance school buildings. To demonstrate the importance of federal funding, and help make the case for increasing it, each month we’re highlighting a great public charter school that relied on the CSP to get started.

This month we feature Namaste Charter School in Chicago. Namaste was founded on the belief that healthy children are better learners. It seeks to change the trajectory of underserved children’s lives through a holistic education program that includes daily exercise routines and healthy breakfasts and lunches, in addition to a rigorous academic curriculum in which half of classes are taught bilingually, in English and Spanish. Namaste used CSP funding at its start-up to plan for the curriculum and structure of the school. It has used additional CSP grants to provide seed money for the school library, and to launch the Learning the Namaste Way Institute, which has trained more than 80 school leaders in holistic education best practices. Read more about this truly innovative public school in this month’s profile.


Senate HELP Committee Approves ESEA Reauthorization

ESEA reauthorization took an important step forward in April when the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions approved the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA) by a unanimous vote of 22-0. The bill now moves to the full Senate. ECAA, which was introduced by Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), requires that states continue to administer annual statewide assessments in grades 3-8 in reading and math and once in high school. It also modernizes the Charter Schools Program. Click here to read the National Alliance’s letter to Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray.


Understanding Title I

The federal Title I program provides $15 billion in funding for schools that serve children from low-income families. It’s an important program for many charter schools, but the process for allocating Title I funding to charter school LEAs is complicated and not particularly transparent. To help clarify the issue, we’ve posted two resources that address Title I allocations to charter schools. The National Alliance’s Christy Wolfe wrote this blog post, which provides a “crash course” in how funding reaches charter school LEAs. In addition, education policy specialist Wayne Riddle has written Issues in the Allocation of ESEA Title I Funds to Charter Schools, which goes deeper into the Title I formula and how it works for charter schools. Riddle calls for further exploration and analysis to ensure that charter schools are being funded appropriately.


Indiana and Oklahoma Improve Charter Laws

Great news from two of the National Alliance’s target states this month. Indiana governor Mike Pence and state legislators approved a budget that will provide public charter schools with a new $500 per student allotment and a $50 million loan program to help with facilities costs and other needs, reducing the funding gap between public charter schools and traditional public schools. The state also enacted legislation to improve its already strong authorizing environment. Together, these changes will help Indiana move close to the top of the National Alliance’s annual state charter law rankings. For more details, read our statement here. In Oklahoma, Gov. Mary Fallin worked with a bipartisan coalition of legislators to pass a law that will allow public charter schools to open throughout the state, while also strengthening school and authorizer accountability. Previously, public charter schools could only operate in about 4 percent of the state’s school districts. Our statement has more details. We’re thrilled for students, parents, and our partners in Indiana and Oklahoma, and we urge other states to take notice!


28 Charter Schools Among Nation’s Best High Schools

U.S. News & World Report released its 2015 Best High Schools rankings, and 28 public charter schools are among the top 100. Moreover, two public charter high schools are ranked in the top 10: BASIS Scottsdale (#2) in Scottsdale, Arizona; and Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology (#4) in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Public high schools were evaluated based on their students’ performance on state-mandated assessments, minority and economically disadvantaged student performance, and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exam results. The number of public charter schools in the U.S. News top 100 has grown over the past five years from 18 schools to 28. And the 2015 rankings included nine public charter schools that are new to the top 100 this year. Congratulations to these high-fliers!


Enhancing Authorizer Accountability

Maintaining the highest level of quality in public charter schools starts with good authorizing practices. Authorizers are responsible for ensuring that new charter schools have a credible plan for success and that existing charter schools adhere to their plans, deliver a high-quality education to students, and show good stewardship of taxpayer dollars. Given their essential role in maintaining quality and enforcing accountability, authorizers themselves must be held to high standards. A new report from the National Alliance and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) highlights how state policymakers can raise the bar on authorizer quality and examines four states – Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, and Ohio – that have recently taken action to improve their authorizing environments. Establishing clear and consistently high standards for authorizers is vital to ensuring that public charter schools fulfill our promise to the families and communities we serve.


National Charter Schools Conference

The 2015 National Charter Schools Conference (#NCSC15) is just a month away! Join us from June 21-24 in New Orleans, where we’ve lined up inspiring keynote speakers, including Harlem Children’s Zone founder Geoffrey Canada, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education John White, and Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. By attending #NCSC15, you’ll have access to more than 135 breakout sessions and myriad networking opportunities. The full schedule of speakers and sessions is now available – and searchable – online. Registration rates go up after Friday, June 5, so register now to join us in New Orleans!


Support the National Alliance

The National Alliance is a non-profit organization that relies on your generosity to help us raise awareness of the high-quality public charter schools serving students across the nation. We are extremely grateful for your contributions. Please consider a tax-deductible gift to support the growth and sustainability of public charter schools – and please share our message and our work with your friends. Thank you!

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U.S. News and World Report Ranks 28 Public Charter Schools in Top 100 http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/high-school-rankings/ http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/high-school-rankings/#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 16:04:44 +0000 http://www.publiccharters.org/?p=8903 Today, the U.S. News & World Report released its 2015 Best High Schools Rankings, and 28 public charter schools are among the top 100. Moreover, two public charter high schools are ranked in the top 10: BASIS Scottsdale (#2) in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology (#4) in Lawrenceville, Ga.

U.S. News teamed up with RTI International, a North Carolina-based global nonprofit social science research firm, to produce the 2015 rankings. Public high schools were evaluated by their students’ performance on state-mandated assessments, minority and economically disadvantaged student performance, and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exam results to determine preparedness for college-level work. Public charter school representation in the top 100 of the U.S. News Best High Schools Rankings has grown over the past five years from 18 schools to 28.

The 2015 rankings included nine public charter schools that are new to the top 100 this year. Congratulations to these charter schools for being recognized as the top public high schools in the nation!

Rebecca David is the Research Assistant at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

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Three Reasons Why Authorizer Accountability Is Right Policy for Every State http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/authorizer-accountability/ http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/authorizer-accountability/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 18:36:28 +0000 http://www.publiccharters.org/?p=8881 In a new report, “Holding Public Charter School Authorizers Accountable,” the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the National Association for Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) take a closer look at why policy that creates quality, strong authorizing is an essential part of model charter policy.

Quality authorizing looks after the interests of students and the taxpayer, while protecting school autonomy and fostering high standards. As the field has coalesced around these core principles, it has also concluded that policies can be powerful levers for authorizer quality—with authorizer accountability chief among them. Get authorizer accountability right and you create an environment where quality charter schools can thrive and grow. Get it wrong and it may lead down a path where school autonomy, a fundamental part of the charter promise, is threatened.

We can get authorizer accountability right. The recommendations and case studies in this report demonstrate how authorizer accountability can be used in every state to enhance the quality of their charter sector. The specific policy changes that will help the most in each state require customization and an understanding of the particular challenges the individual state faces. But you don’t need to start from scratch. Authorizer accountability includes three core tenets that are appropriate everywhere:

  • Standards of Practice: Authorizing is both a major public stewardship role and a complex profession requiring particular capacities and commitment. Professional standards help set the bar for authorizing high and establish a uniform measure to hold authorizers to.
  • Transparency: States should require authorizers to report annually on the performance of the portfolio of schools they oversee and, separately, on select practices authorizers employ. These reports not only help schools, policymakers and parents know how each school is performing academically, but also help identify patterns of school performance or authorizing activities that may point to poor or hostile authorizing practices.
  • Accountability for Practices and School Performance: We trust authorizers to serve the public good. Authorizers who are too willing to grant charters to poor applicants or continue to allow persistently poor-performing schools to remain open are violating this trust. By the same measure, authorizers who are hostile and erode school autonomy are also violating this trust. Policymakers should have an appropriate mechanism for evaluating authorizer behavior, intervening, and, if necessary, pushing these kinds of authorizers out of the sector.

Authorizers exist to facilitate the creation and maintenance of a quality charter school sector. Authorizer standards give authorizers a roadmap to do their job; and transparency and accountability give the public the tools they need identify and correct authorizers if they go off course. Let’s continue to push all states to adopt accountability policies that incorporate these core tenets. Through authorizer accountability we can protect students and the public from failing or fraudulent charter schools, while protecting the autonomy of great charter schools.

Alex Medler is the Vice President of Policy at the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA).

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Thoughtful, Committed Citizens http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/thoughtful-committed-citizens/ http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/thoughtful-committed-citizens/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 15:00:02 +0000 http://www.publiccharters.org/?p=8698 Attending the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ annual conference each year has become a priority for the leadership at our K-12 charter school in Boulder County, Colorado. We have found that these three days in the summer allow our leadership team to spend extended, focused time together reflecting on issues of key importance to our organization. This year’s conference in New Orleans will be our fourth, and because of the wide variety of sessions and speakers featured each year, we continue to add to the list of staff members who attend.  

The conference serves many purposes for our school. The opportunity to participate in conversations about national charter schools legislation and funding always leads to deeper, more nuanced discussions of what’s happening in our own state. Workshop sessions targeting the challenges and opportunities unique to charter schools have enhanced and informed decisions we’ve made with regard to technology, teacher evaluation, media relations, and communication, to name a few. At the same time, the chance for us to share our own experiences and expertise by facilitating breakout sessions helps raise our school’s profile and leads to expanded networking and relationship building with other charter leaders around the country. Finally, the conference consistently features speakers doing critical work on the cutting edge of education, charter or otherwise. Their keynote addresses inspire important conversations among our school’s leadership team and between charter leaders across our state and across the nation.

Being part of the charter school movement means being part of a solution to the many troubled aspects of education. It means creative problem solving and innovating against all odds. It means coming to the table with an open mindset and the knowledge that Margaret Mead was right when she said that it only takes “a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens to change the world.” Attending the National Charter Schools Conference each year reunites and reinvigorates that small group of committed citizens, which is why it is and will continue to be an important priority for the leaders of our school.

 

Megan Freeman directs the Center for Professional Development at Peak to Peak Charter School. She leads workshops in best practices and consults with schools and universities throughout the state of Colorado.  She can be reached at megan@CPDcolorado.org.

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High School Winner – National Charter Schools Week Essay Contest http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/high-school-winner-ncsw/ http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/high-school-winner-ncsw/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 18:00:24 +0000 http://www.publiccharters.org/?p=8859 Leila from Western Sierra Collegiate Academy in California won the high school category of the 2015 Charter Schools Week essay contest! Read about why she loves her charter school: 

As people become increasingly aware of the unique learning systems offered by non-traditional institutions, the amount of students enrolled in charter schools continues to grow. Parents nationwide choose to enroll their children in charter schools for a variety of reasons; however, I love my charter school because of its welcoming campus culture, wealth of student opportunities, and heavy emphasis on college preparation.

At Western Sierra Collegiate Academy (WSCA), students are immersed in a rich campus culture that fosters great individual learning and growth. Enjoying high student diversity, WSCA is home to students from many different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Whereas diversity has sometimes led to social issues at other schools, at WSCA it is these very cultural differences that make us a stronger and more unified student body. Having attended WSCA for four years, I have definitely been on campus long enough to say that the people at my school truly feel like family. I am extremely grateful to have been able to thrive in an environment that not only respects but wholeheartedly welcomes individuality. When I go to school, I see students who are unafraid to be themselves and express their opinions, and I believe that WSCA’s positive campus culture is what makes this possible.

In addition to fostering a rich social environment, WSCA also offers numerous student opportunities unavailable at other schools. Because of WSCA’s open-minded mission statement, students have the rare chance to participate in competitions on a smaller-scale, potentially opening up doors for the future. Kids are also encouraged to start clubs according to their interests. Because of this, I have been able to found and lead my high school’s community service club and gain valuable leadership skills. Other clubs supported by WSCA include: computer club, international dance club, yoga club, and Pokemon club. Students also have access to extra-learning enrichment sessions and student tutoring should they need any further help in a specific area.

Finally, perhaps WSCA’s most defining quality is the emphasis that is placed on college preparedness. Students are encouraged to challenge themselves with rigorous AP classes and regularly attend the monthly college informational night to learn how to build college transcripts and start early preparations. At the College and Career Center, students can arrange a meeting with the college counselor to discuss future plans and make long-term goals for success. Whenever a senior receives a college acceptance letter, their name and school of acceptance goes on display on the big bulletin board so everyone can share their excitement. Counselors and faculty interact with students on such a personal level (often waving “hello” in the hallways, or asking about their day) that genuinely makes each student feel valued and important.

Western Sierra Collegiate Academy is truly a special school, and I love being a WSCA student for many reasons. However, although the list of WSCA pros is vast, without a doubt, its rich campus culture, broad range of student opportunities, and college-geared mission are primary reasons to love my charter school.

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Middle School Winner – National Charter Schools Week Essay Contest http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/middle-school-winner-ncsw/ http://www.publiccharters.org/2015/05/middle-school-winner-ncsw/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 18:00:09 +0000 http://www.publiccharters.org/?p=8857 Omara from Community Day Charter Public School in Massachusetts won the middle school category of the 2015 Charter Schools Week essay contest! Read about why she loves her charter school: 

I entered Community Day Charter Public School (CDCPS) eight years ago as a kindergartener similar to how many of my peers did–very quiet and very nervous. I was extremely introverted and liked to keep things to myself. Through the many grades I have grown to be a much more outspoken student who isn’t afraid of raising her hand and voicing her opinion in all her classes. I achieved this with the help the amazing adults and classmates who have taught me so many academic and life lessons during my years at CDCPS. Looking back now as an 8th grader, I couldn’t imagine myself in any other school doing the things I’m doing. Each day that I go to the charter, I’m pushed to be the best version of myself. I am encouraged to go “above and beyond” by all my teachers in every subject and on every assignment. This year in English class, we are reading one of Shakespeare’s plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The language is difficult and many of my peers and I struggle to understand some sections, but we are given the opportunity to break down words and phrases and comprehend. In math class, we are learning algebra, and in science we learn about chemical reactions through experimentation. This challenging work gives students a feeling of self-pride. We the Students are taught to make goals for ourselves and try to not only complete them but surpass them every school year.

At our charter school every single student is cared for and supported–nobody is left behind. The teachers at CDCPS get to know all of their students and recognize each individual’s strength and weaknesses. They bring their best to all of their lessons and have high expectations, which, in turn, motivates students to want to learn more and meet those high standards.

Not only does CDCPS guide students to a road of academic success, it also develops students into people with good character for life outside of school. We learned from the start of our schooling career to be kind to one another and always give back to our community. As a whole school we have done many service projects like can drives, coin wars, and clean-ups. Each project helped us mature and acknowledge how grateful we really are. The life lessons and skills that have been a part of us since first grade and stayed with us up through eighth grade will come in handy when we step away from our charter school and enter a new environment where we can make the difference. CDCPS develops well-rounded students who stand out in large crowds for their leadership abilities.

Community Day Charter Public School is a community of children, teachers, and parents who work together to support the finest hard-working, dedicated students in Lawrence, Massachusetts, if not in our entire state or nation. I am honored to have been given the chance to be a part of the great academic and character-driven community that is CDCPS.

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