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Education Innovators Call for Continued Commitment and Ingenuity on Day Two of National Charter Schools Conference

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Netflix Founder and CEO Reed Hastings, and charter school leaders from across the country headline the second day of #NCSC17

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (National Alliance) is proud to host day two of the National Charter Schools Conference – themed Educate. Innovate. Engage. Today’s programming focuses on the charter school movement’s proven ability, and continued need, to innovate in order to drive ever-stronger outcomes for students.

“I suggest we focus less on what word comes before school…and focus instead on the individuals they are intended to serve. We need to get away from our orientation around buildings or systems or schools and shift our focus to individual students,” said U.S Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to an audience of 4,500 educators. “Charters alone are not sufficient. Private schools alone are not sufficient. Neither are traditional schools. That’s OK. Let’s humbly admit this fact and realize no top down one size fits all approach will give children a world-class education.”

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. As Secretary of Education, DeVos leads the department that oversees public schools across America – 6,900 of which are public charter schools serving over 3 million Pre-K through 12th grade students.

Secretary DeVos was introduced by Deborah McGriff, managing partner at NewSchools Venture Fund and longtime advocate for educational equity. The Secretary also participated in a lively Q&A of attendee-submitted questions, moderated by Derrell Bradford, Executive Vice President of 50CAN and Executive Director of NYCAN.

“Some charter leaders have asked whether your department will promote choice for choice’s sake or if there is something more to it,” stated Bradford during the Q&A portion. “The Charter Bargain, as you know, is simply stated providing autonomy in exchange for accountability.  The charter movement takes this promise very seriously…How would you like to see accountability demonstrated?”

Replied Secretary DeVos, “Our focus should be on not choice for choice’s sake, but choice because parents are demanding something different for their children. And for every year that they don’t have that opportunity, their child is missing out.”

To watch Secretary DeVos’s full remarks, click here.

Later today, Founder & CEO of Netflix Reed Hastings will deliver a keynote address on how schools leaders and school systems can leverage advances in technology, philanthropy, community support to disrupt the status quo in public education. Hastings, who currently serves on the boards of several educational organizations including CCSA, DreamBox Learning, KIPP, Pahara, and the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, previewed his conference participation via taped remarks.

“I’m Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix and a 20-year charter school supporter. I look forward to being with everyone at the conference and…talking about some of the major trends in technology: cloud computing, personalization, and things that I think will really improve learning for all of our students.”

Hastings will share the stage and participate in a Q&A with Margaret Fortune, President and CEO of Fortune School, a network of K-12 charter schools in California working to close the African American achievement gap.

To close out day two of the Conference, outstanding charter school educators will also share their perspectives on how to ensure every student in this nation receives an excellent education – drawing from proven best practices of the past while pursuing innovative new practices for the future.

First, founders and senior leaders of some of the highest-performing charter networks in the nation will gather to share lessons learned over the past twenty years and debate where they believe the sector is heading. The panel will feature Mark DiBella of YES Prep (Texas), Mike Feinberg of KIPP (nationwide), Julie Jackson of Uncommon Schools (New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts), Michael Milkie of Noble Network (Illinois), and Tom Torkelson of IDEA Public Schools (Texas).

And lastly, we will host the 2017 Charter Schools Hall of Fame Panel. Hosted by Brian Jones, Board Chair of the National Alliance, the panel will feature 2017 inductees Malcolm Peabody, Chairman Emeritus of Friends of Choice in Urban Schools and longtime public servant for education, civil rights, anti-discrimination, and housing initiatives; Greg Richmond, President and CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and former senior leader for over a decade within Chicago Public Schools; and Caprice Young, CEO and Superintendent of Magnolia Public Schools in Southern California, former head of the Los Angeles Unified school board, and founder of the California Charter Schools Association. These honorees will speak about the grit, resolve, and creativity required to be education and social justice pioneers.

“Tuesday’s focus on innovation within the charter school sector reveals just how powerful public schools can be when communities come together to innovate,” said Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance. “Creativity, urgency, deep understanding of student needs, and the ability to both execute and adapt are critical components of effective innovation. The charter school champions and leaders we are hearing from today are proof positive that those traits are in full force within our movement.”

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About Charter Public Schools
Charter public schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Since 2010, many research studies have found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. For example, one study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that charter schools do a better job teaching low income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English than traditional schools. Separate studies by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood.

About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit www.publiccharters.org.