National Alliance to Host 15th Annual National Charter Schools Conference in New Orleans

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Washington, D.C. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools will host the 15th annual National Charter Schools Conference in New Orleans, La., June 21-24.

The conference will bring together over 4,500 charter school professionals, advocates and policymakers from across the country through keynote sessions, breakout discussions and numerous networking opportunities.

We are excited to head down to New Orleans this year to learn from the progress the city has made in the 10 years since Hurricane Katrina. Coincidently, this year, we will also celebrate the 10th anniversary of the National Alliance, and we couldnt think of a better place to host our conference than New Orleans a city where nearly every student is in a public charter school, said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

The general sessions will examine a wide variety of topics surrounding the charter schools movement today, threading the A Chance for Every Child theme. The conference will feature esteemed keynote speakers such as:

  • Geoffrey Canada, president, Harlem Childrens Zone (3:00 p.m., Tuesday, June 23)
  • Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director, Equal Justice Initiative (11:15 a.m. Wednesday, June 24)
  • John White, State Superintendent of Louisiana (9:30 a.m., Monday, June 22)
  • Ashley Judd, actress, activist and humanitarian (10:30 a.m., Monday, June 22)

The program will include more than 120 sessions ranging from policy and governance to instruction and leadership. Some of the sessions to watch out for are:

How Can We Ensure Charter Schools Build and Maintain Model Diversity? (11:30 a.m., June 22) Charter schools have always been at the forefront of innovation and school design, yet replication of existing models has become often the most important lever to expand the reach of the sector. The panel brings together charter school staff to discuss evolving their current model to better serve students and thinking of new ways to serve a more diverse student population.

A Universal Lottery for All Schools? Advantages and Limitations (9:30 a.m., June 23) Experts discuss the advantages and limitations of universal enrollment systems and how to make it work for parents and schools.

Sharing Best Practices: Everybody Talks About It - Who's Doing It? (1:45 p.m., June 23) Freed from bureaucracy, the original premise behind charter schools was that they would innovate and develop new ways of engaging students that could be shared to help transform district schools this isn't happening broadly, but there are a few bright spots. This roundtable discussion focuses on ways to share these best practices.

Relinquishment: Getting the District to Give up Control (1:45 p.m., June 23) New Orleans, Memphis, and other cities have begun experimenting with strategies to fundamentally alter the role of the traditional urban districtand with varying success. This panel will examine strategies employed to drive that shift, and the associated pitfalls and challenges.

The National Alliance will roll out the following reports during the conference:

Freedom from Failure: Charter School Autonomy and School Turnaround This report focuses on how the autonomy provided to charter schools in state charter school laws can be used to aid in the challenging task of turning around low-performing schools, through autonomy related to staffing, curriculum, and general operations.

Weighted Lotteries This report explores whether each state public charter school state law allows the use of weighted lotteries in admissions in order to give additional weight to students who are identified as educationally disadvantaged.

The Hidden Connection In City-Wide Reform: How Charter Schools Can Bring Equity To Public Education An untold story of New Orleans education reform, the paper discusses how charter schools can increase equity in public school systems, and shares lessons for cities across the country, particularly those seeking recovery district-type reform.

Lastly, the National Alliance will release announcements on the following:

Commitment to Quality Statement A pledge by the National Alliance and state charter support groups committing to creating, supporting and fostering highly effective public charter schools.

The Broad Prize The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation will announce the 2015 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools on June 22. The $250,000 prize will be awarded to the best performing public charter management organization in the country. The finalists include: Achievement First, IDEA and Noble Network.

Hall of Fame Three charter school advocates Senator Mary Landrieu, Dr. Deborah McGriff and Nelson Smith will be inducted into its Charter Schools Hall of Fame.

On Sunday, June 21, the conference will kick off with a welcome reception parade featuring New Orleans public and public charter school staff and students.

The event will be held at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on 900 Convention Center Blvd. For media credentials and interview requests, contact Riya V. Anandwala at (202)521-2833 or riya@publiccharters.org.

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 our website at www.publiccharters.org.