National Charter Schools Conference 2018: Empowered to Dream Big

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Washington, D.C.- The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools invites you to our 2018 National Charter Schools Conference (#NCSC18) – June 18-20 in Austin, TX – which will bring together over 4,700 educators, school leaders, state-level leaders, charter support organizations, charter management organizations, and advocates to engage around the vibrant public charter school movement in America. The conference theme – Empowered to Dream Big – inspires our participants to get back to our charter school roots and think outside the box. It’s also an homage to our host state where everything is bigger!

Texas is one of the nation’s oldest and most vibrant charter school sectors. Some of the country’s most celebrated networks were founded in the Lone Star state—IDEA Public SchoolsHarmony Public Schools, and YES Prep. And Texas is also home to several nationally ranked smaller schools and networks, including Young Women’s Leadership AcademyWestlake Academy Charter School, and Uplift Education.

In 2017, Stanford University’s Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO) found that on average, public charter school students in Texas experience stronger annual growth in reading (gaining an additional 17 days of learning) and similar growth in math compared to the educational gains of their matched peers who enroll in the district schools the charter students would have attended otherwise. 

Now in its 18th year, the National Charter School Conference is the only national conference designed for charter school educators, leaders, administrators, advocates, and board members. The three-day event includes daily keynote speeches from world-renowned education leaders, 125+ breakout sessions, and 275+exhibitors. 

Below is a snapshot of featured content and speakers at next week’s conference. Reporters interested in attending must register (free of charge) to receive required press credentials. Advance information is available upon request for some of the below appearances and announcements. Programs noted with * will also be livestreamed on the National Alliance’s Facebook Page.

Monday, June 18

*Welcome by Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush
9:20-9:25, Austin Convention Center, Grand Ballroom D (Level 4)
Commissioner Bush welcomes attendees to the state of Texas and reflects on the robust charter movement in Texas. 

*Opening Remarks by Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
9:30am–9:45am, Austin Convention Center, Grand Ballroom D (Level 4)
Nina Rees will welcome attendees to Texas, touching on the conference them “Empowered to Dream Big” and the work the National Alliance is doing across the country and in Washington to support the movement. 

*Broad Prize Winner Announcement 
10:00am–10:15am, Austin Convention Center, Grand Ballroom D (Level 4)
The $250,000 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools is awarded annually to the best-performing charter management organization (CMO) in the country, as evidenced by outstanding academic outcomes, especially among students from low-income backgrounds and students of color. This year’s three finalists – Achievement FirstDSST Public Schools, and Uncommon Schools – were chosen from among 41 of the country’s largest CMOs by a review board of national education experts. (The winner is *NOT* notified in advanced.)

Featured Breakout Sessions

• Is It Time for Charters to Start Taking Responsibility for Districts’ Success? 11:15am–12:30pm, Hilton Salon F
Speakers: Tom Boasberg, Denver Public Schools; Lewis Ferebee, Indianapolis Public Schools; Mike Magee, Chiefs for Change; Pedro Martinez, San Antonio Independent School District; Kunjan Narechania, Louisiana Department of Education.

• Lessons from Texas: What Can Other States Learn from Texas Charter Policy 
2:00pm–3:15pm, Hilton Salon F
Speakers: Chris Barbic, The Laura and John Arnold Foundation; Sam Duell, ExcelinEd; Christi Martin, Martin Consulting Group; Stephanie Matthews, Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). The panel will discuss historical analysis and recommendations from ExcelinEd and TPPF’s new case study, Time to Change Course: Reclaiming the Potential of Texas Public Charter Schools <link available Monday afternoon>

 Connecting the Dots and Aligning Visions: HBCU and Charter School Partnerships
3:30pm–4:45pm, Hilton Salon F
Speakers: Sekou Biddle and Michael Lomax, United Negro College Fund; Khalia Murray, DC Prep; Kathryn Procope, Howard University Public Charter Middle School of Mathematics and Science; Kevin Rome, Fisk University.

Tuesday, June 19

*Remarks by Marc Sternberg, K-12 Education Program Director for the Walton Family Foundation
3:40pm–3:50 pm, Austin Convention Center, Grand Ballroom D (Level 4)
Marc Sternberg leads the foundation’s initiatives to improve K-12 education for all of our nation’s children by empowering parents with quality options. Before joining the foundation, Marc served as the Senior Deputy Chancellor at the New York City Department of Education, where he directed the citywide portfolio planning efforts including new school development and placement, school improvement and accountability planning, and the Pre K-12 enrollment team. 

* Keynote Address by Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr., CEO of National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI)
3:55pm–4:15pm, Austin Convention Center, Grand Ballroom D (Level 4)
Dr. Harris has been involved in math and science education for more than 25 years and is a founding board member for NMSI. A veteran astronaut, he was the first African-American to complete a space walk. He is also a medical doctor and an Air Force pilot. 

*Hall of Fame Induction
4:15pm–4:45pm, Austin Convention Center, Grand Ballroom D (Level 4)
The National Charter Schools Hall of Fame was established to recognize individuals and organizations who have had a profound and lasting impact on the charter school movement. This year the National Alliance honors 3 schools and their 4 school leaders.

Featured Sessions

*Charter Talks

9:00am–12:30pm, Charter Talk Stage, Exhibit Hall
Back for a second year, Charter Talks features 15-minute compelling presentations with a story arc that shares a big idea, a tech demo, or delves into a hot topic. 

Pensions Under Pressure: Charter Innovation in Teacher Retirement Benefits
8:00am–9:00am, Austin Convention Center, Room 18C
Speakers: Kevin Hesla, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools; Christopher Hines, Crescent City Schools; Becki Krueger, LEAD Charter Schools; Michael Podgursky, University of Missouri, Columbia. White paper available here.

What the 2018 Elections Mean for School Choice
8:00am–9:00am, Austin Convention Center, Room 8A/B/C
Speakers: Dave Carney, Norway Hills Associates; Lea Crusey, Allies for Educational Equity; Scott Jensen and Shaka Mitchell, American Federation for Children; Jonathan Nikkila, 50CAN Action Fund; Todd Ziebarth, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Wednesday, June 20

* Remarks by Sydney Chaffee, 2017 National Teacher of the Year
11:10–11:30, Austin Convention Center, Grand Ballroom D (Level 4)
A humanities teacher at Codman Academy Public Charter School in Boston for 10 years, Sydney is the first charter school teacher to be honored as National Teacher of the Year. She has spent the last year traveling across the country learning from other amazing educators and speaking about the bravery students can teach adults. 

* Keynote Address by Mike Marriner, Co-Founder Roadtrip Nation
11:30–11:55, Austin Convention Center, Grand Ballroom D (Level 4)
After graduating college, Mike Marriner didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. So he and two friends bought a mechanically questionable RV, painted it green, and decided to travel the country asking people who do what they love how they figured it out. Fifteen years later, that roadtrip has become Roadtrip Nation, non-profit and popular PBS television series dedicated to helping students find career and life fulfillment.