National Alliance October Newsletter

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Charters work. That’s the direct, powerful message at the heart of our latest campaign on behalf of charter public school parents and students. It’s a message leaders of major institutions need to hear.

This weekend, the NAACP’s Board of Directors meets to consider a resolution calling for a nationwide moratorium on new charter schools. As you’ll read below, the National Alliance is working with our partners at the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) to rally black community leaders and parents and make clear to the NAACP that charters are working for hundreds of thousands of black students across America. This piece in the New York Times summarizes what’s at stake beautifully!

In just a few weeks, Americans will head to the polls to elect officeholders at every level, many of whom will have an impact on the ability of charter schools to grow and thrive. One of the most important elections is in Massachusetts, where voters will decide whether to lift the cap on charter school growth that is preventing too many students from accessing the good schools they deserve. More on that issue below.

We know the facts are on our side. Charters are working. Students’ lives are being lifted. Parents are gaining new hope for their children. Help us spread this message by visiting the Charters Work website. And be sure to use #ChartersWork on Facebook and Twitter so this message reaches everyone who needs to hear it!


Nina Rees
Nina Rees
President and CEO

Tell the NAACP That Charters Work!

This weekend, the NAACP’s Board of Directors will consider a resolution calling for a nationwide moratorium on new charter public schools. The Charters Work campaign is designed to tell the NAACP and everyone else who will listen that a charter school moratorium isn’t in the best interest of black students and doesn’t represent the wishes of black parents. The campaign includes a public letter signed by more than 160 black community leaders, including Cheryl Brown Henderson, the daughter of Oliver Brown, the lead plaintiff in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case, and Dr. Michael Lomax, CEO of the United Negro College Fund. We’ve generated coverage in major media, including the Washington Post, NPR, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones, Salon, Atlanta Black Star, Pittsburgh Courier, and Compton Herald.

You can still get involved. Visit the Charters Work website to add your name to a letter addressed to the NAACP’s leadership from charter school parents who want to make it clear that charter schools are working for their children and should be available to more students. And use our campaign toolkit to encourage more parents to sign on to the letter!


Massachusetts: Yes on 2! 

Voters will decide on November 8th whether to lift the cap on charter school growth in Massachusetts by voting Yes on 2 (#Yeson2MA). According to a recent poll, 49 percent of voters favor lifting the cap and 39 percent are opposed. In a tight race with 12 percent still undecided, every vote will matter! 


Path to Possible!

Marching under the banner #PathToPossible, 25,000 charter school parents, students, teachers, and other supporters gathered in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park to demand that New York leaders double the number of students served by the city’s charter schools to 200,000. Read about the rally here, and find more info on the Path to Possible here.


New National Alliance Reports

The Model Law Gets an Update
The National Alliance’s Model Charter School Law has driven improvements in existing laws and guided the adoption of new laws in dozens of states since it was first released in 2009. (Read about Indiana’s improvements here.) We’ve learned a lot over the last seven years and, last week, we updated our model law to reflect best practices we’ve seen across the country.

The new model law encourages states to provide more equitable support to charter school students, allow more flexibility for charter schools, and strengthen accountability for charter schools and authorizers. Our next charter law rankings report, coming in early 2017, will reflect how states align with the new model law. Click here to read an overview of the new law by the National Alliance’s Todd Ziebarth, and click here to read Nina’s column on the lessons that informed the new law.


Charter Schools Serving Hispanic Students
A new report from the National Alliance highlights the role charter public schools play in helping Hispanic students succeed. Charter Schools Serving Hispanic Communities compiles all the research that shows how the more than 12 million Hispanic children in American public schools are faring. The data time and again shows that charter schools serve more Hispanic students than their district counterparts, and foster achievement at higher levels. Click here for the full report.


Charter Accountability for District-Run Schools
The National Alliance released a new paper from Andy Smarick exploring how the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) allows states to rethink their accountability systems. One option: allow independent authorizers to create charter-style accountability contracts with district-run schools. Without changing current governance structures or collective bargaining agreements, a performance-based school accountability system could make it possible to grow a city’s best schools and close persistent underperformers. Read the report here.


Federal Update 

The U.S. Department of Education announced its Charter Schools Program (CSP) State Educational Agency (SEA) grants, as well as its Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools grants. The two awards total more than $245 million to eight states and 15 non-profit charter management organizations to promote the growth of high-quality charter public schools. Congratulations to all of the recipients of these vital funds! For more information about this competition – including the list of winners – please see the National Alliance's press release, and the U.S. Department of Education's website.

Speaking of ESSA, accountability discussions related to the new law are underway now in many states. ESSA requires SEAs to engage charter school leaders in the development of state plans, and we strongly encourage charter school leaders to engage with SEAs regarding their strategy for ESSA accountability plans. For additional resources, see the Fordham Institute’s paper outlining state accountability systems and how they may be redesigned as a result of ESSA.

A final note: The U.S. Department of Education’s Inspector General released a report flagging problems with the use of federal funds among some charter schools that contract with management organizations. The National Alliance responded here.

Research Roundup


UNCF, Urban League Report on Black Education
The United Negro College Fund, National Urban League, and Education Post have released a new report, Building Better Narratives in Black Education. The report is designed to change the narrative around the education of black students and ensure that voices of black leaders and communities are heard on issues of reform. Several charter schools are held up as examples, including DC’s Achievement Prep, Chicago’s Urban Prep, and InspireNOLA in New Orleans. The National Alliance’s Robert Reed wrote about the report in a blog post, which you can read here. You can download the report here.

EdChoice Poll Shows that Millennials Support Charter Schools
EdChoice (formerly the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice) has released the findings of its 2016 Schooling in America Survey. Among the significant findings for charter schools: The public continues to view charter schools favorably, with 59 percent in favor vs. just 23 percent opposed. Millennials, who make up a growing slice of parents of school-age children, are even more positive, at 63 percent. You can read the results here, and view a panel discussion about the findings with the National Alliance’s Christy Wolfe here.

Do Charter School Boards Affect School Quality?
The Fordham Institute has a new report exploring an under-studied part of the charter school movement: school boards. Charter School Boards in the Nation’s Capital examines data from a survey of Washington, D.C., charter board members about their personal characteristics and views as well as their professional practices. The survey responses were then compared to school quality measures to find linkages between board practices and school quality. Click here for commentary and a link to the report.

Comparing Education Data Across Cities
A new tool from the George W. Bush Institute makes it easier to compare education data across cities. The State of our Cities project brings together federal, state, school district, and other data sources to help people with an interest in education policy clearly see differences in student achievement, college readiness, teacher salaries, and other education metrics across cities and across demographic groups within cities. Find the tool here, and click here for a commentary on using the data from the director of the institute’s education reform initiative.

Innovation Buzz

XQ: The Super School Project awarded $10 million grants to 10 schools around America that are completely rethinking high school for the future. Several charter schools were among the awardees. Congratulation to all the winners! You can find descriptions and videos of the schools here.


Founding a School: Here’s What to Buy First

All of the XQ school innovators – and the many more educational entrepreneurs across America – should take a look at this blog post by our friends at Noodle Markets. Founding a School: Here’s What to Buy First offers advice on buying everything from accounting services to computers to furniture. It’s a great guide to help you hit the ground running!


#NCSC17 Update

The next National Charter Schools Conference will be held June 11-14, 2017 in Washington, DC. Early bird registration will be opening soon. In addition, beginning October 20th, we’ll be looking for your best and most creative ideas to turn into presentations for the conference. Visit the NCSC website starting October 20th for more details! 


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