Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

What does the TCSA Quality Framework have to do with the Texas Charter Schools Conference?

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Web-based tools and resources such as those found in the TCSA Quality Framework online portal are an excellent start to matching member-identified needs. However, TCSA also seeks to provide tools, resources, and information through a variety of products and member services, such as live and web-based trainings and workshops. Those live trainings and workshops, of course, include conference sessions at the annual Texas Charter Schools Conference.
So, what does the TCSA Quality Framework have to do with the Texas Charter Schools Conference? Once again, here’s a short answer: Everything. Each and every conference session in every single strand will be connected to at least one System of the Quality Framework. In addition, there are two Quality Framework-specific strandsin the 2012 conference schedule: Continuous Improvement and Best Practices.

Quality Framework Continuous Improvement Strand
For new charters, or those new to TCSA, the Quality and Continuous Improvement strand will provide introductions to the Quality Framework Self-Assessment, Reports, and Resources. This strand will even feature time and space for school leaders to complete and submit the Self-Assessment and access the Quality Framework Reports and Data Pack at the conference. We’ll talk more about each of the sessions in the Continuous Improvement strand in a few weeks.

Quality Framework Best Practices Strand
Of course, all of the conference sessions will present best and effective practices, tools, resources, and strategies. But the Quality Framework Best Practices strand was developed directly from member requests or in response to Quality Framework Results and Comparative Reports data. This week, we begin to explore one of the Best Practices Strand sessions and how we came to identify the topic as a member-driven need.

Using Quality Framework Data to Schedule Conference Sessions
Many of our conference sessions have come about after an analysis of aggregated data of the Quality Framework Results Reports. Simply put, if there is a single indicator, or a group of related indicators for which many schools responded that their current levels of effectiveness were “Not Evident” or “Early Effective”, we have scheduled a conference work session to help provide information that would help schools increase their levels of effectiveness. One such indicator is probably familiar to many of you: “Board conducts self-evaluations.” Sixty (60) charter leadership teams have indicated that their board does not currently conduct self-evaluations.

Comparative Report and Results Distribution for “Board conducts self-evaluations” Indicator

In response, TCSA is working with Marci Cornell-Feist, of The High Bar, an organization that provides training, tools, and a online networking community to charter leaders and board members across the nation, to present the following session:

Using Board Self-Evaluation to Assess and Improve Board Performance
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
1:00pm – 2:15pm
Learn how charter school board members can take goal setting and performance management to their own leadership level. Presenter: Marci Cornell-Feist, The High Bar

In this session, school leaders and board members will come away with an understanding why self- evaluation, goal setting, and performance management at the highest leadership level—the board—is crucial to the success of the school and its students. Most important, board members and leaders will learn how to get started on implementing a performance management plan when they return to their local school community.

Starting with this conference session, TCSA seeks to provide tools and resources that will offer charter school leaders the information they need to implement a board evaluation process and be able to say with confidence the next time they submit the Quality Framework that the level of effectiveness on this indicator has increased to “Effective” or even “Model”. Other sessions that have been scheduled as a result of an analysis of aggregated Quality Framework data include: Community Outreach and Strategic Partnerships, and Increasing Student Enrollment.

To see more sessions in the Quality Framework Best Practices strand, visit the 2012 Texas Charter Schools Conference schedule.

Next week, learn about how TCSA responds not just to data, but also to member feedback around the Quality Framework reports to seek and provide best practices, tools, and strategies. Register for the 2012 Texas Charter Schools Conference today.

If you are new to TCSA and the Quality Framework and have not yet submitted a Self-Assessment, email the Quality Framework team for an introduction on how to get started.



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TCSA Testifies at State Board of Education Meeting

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Chris Busse, TCSA Vice President of Quality Initiatives, provided public testimony to the SBOE Committee on School Initiatives this past Wednesday.

The State Board of Education (SBOE) met this week in Austin, and Chris Busse, TCSA Vice President of Quality Initiatives, provided public testimony to the SBOE Committee on School Initiatives on Wednesday, July 18, 2012. TCSA felt it was important to let the SBOE know that we appreciate their role, and take every opportunity to comment and work to improve the charter application, award, renewal and regulatory processes. Chris also provided a copy of TCSA’s recent comments to the Commissioner on Chapter 100, Subchapter AA, Commissioner’s Rules Concerning Open-Enrollment Charter Schools. These comments included a reference to and copies of TCSA’s letter to the Commissioner from March 12, 2012, and the April 16, 2012, letter regarding the SBOE Rules Review. These letters included suggested revisions to the rules governing the charter application process and to the rules governing operating charter schools. From our experience with the SBOE, TEA, charter applicants, and operating charter schools, we believe these changes will enhance the charter movement in Texas, resulting in a better charter application process through SBOE, streamlined oversight by TEA, more effective charter schools, and higher achieving charter school students. 

The members of the SBOE Committee on School Initiatives (Ken Mercer, Chair; Charlie Garza, Vice Chair; Mavis B. Knight; Gail Lowe; and Michael Soto) asked many questions after Chris’ short presentation, and we were pleased to have him represent members of TCSA and to have sparked a robust discussion on behalf of charter schools. Chris spoke prior to proposal of amendments to 19 TAC Chapter 100, Charters, Subchapter A, Open-Enrollment Charter Schools, §100.1, Application and Selection Procedures and Criteria, §100.101, Annual Report on Open-Enrollment Charter Governance, and §100.105, Application to Public Senior College or University Charters and Public Junior College Charters.  We will have the opportunity to provide comment on these proposed amendments soon.

TEA also provided an update on Generation 17 charters, announcing that 14 charters were granted interviews in the fall, and TEA also stated that there are 12 charters currently available.  The next SBOE meeting will be in November which means that new charter awards will be delayed several months as will the new Generation 18 application.

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Conozca los DATOS acerca de los MITOS de las escuelas charter

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Como un defensor de las escuelas charter, sabe mejor que nadie que si le preguntara a 10 personas por la definición de una escuela charter, usted recibiría 10 respuestas diferentes –las cuales en su mayoría serían incorrectas.

Abajo se encuentran los mitos, y las verdades detrás de los mismos, más comunes acerca de las escuelas charter.

Mito: Las escuelas charter no están obligadas a tener los mismo estándares de las escuelas públicas tradicionales.

Dato: Las escuelas charter son responsables de los mismos requisitos académicos, de valoraciones y de financiamiento que las escuelas públicas tradicionales, tal como está establecido por la Agencia de Educacion de Texas (TEA)

Mito: Todas las escuelas charter tienen modelos de preparación para la Universidad.

Dato: En realidad las escuelas charter tienen diferentes misiones, el 36 por ciento de todas las escuelas charter en Texas tienen la misión de preparar a los estudiantes para la Universidad. En segundo lugar–aproximadamente el 29 porciento- tiene una misión especializada como las matemáticas, las ciencias, los idiomas o las artes. Las escuelas para contrarrestar la deserción escolar (Dropout Recovery) son el 27 por ciento de las escuelas charter en el estado, mientras que el 8 por ciento están enfocadas en el aprendizaje en entornos especiales como un centro de detención juvenil o escuelas tipo internado.

Mito: Las escuelas charter están triunfando por que seleccionan a los mejores estudiantes y a los padres más involucrados.  .

Dato: Las escuelas charter aceptan a cualquier alumno que aplica, incluyendo a aquellos que se han retrasado en sus estudios, que han desertado de la escuela y aquellos con necesidades especiales. Con 56,000 alumnos en la lista de espera para entrar a una escuela charter en el estado los alumnos que logran entrar representan diversos ambientes y tienen diferentes bagajes culturales. Las escuelas charter sirven a porcentajes más altos de  alumnos Afroamericanos, Hispanos y con desventajas económicas que las escuelas tradicionales y producen más resultados.

Mito: Las escuelas charter no se desempeñan mejor que las escuelas públicas tradicionales.

Dato: De acuerdo a la TEA, las escuelas charter estándar superan a las escuelas tradicionales con estudiantes de minorías en el pase de evaluaciones estatales.

Mito: Las escuelas charter tienen una mayor rotación de maestros.  

Dato: En todas las escuelas, incluidas las charter, el flujo de maestros es un reto. Para las charter, el flujo es el resultado de la facilidad con la que los maestros pueden dejar o ser removidos de sus posiciones. Lo positivo es que las escuelas charter tienen la posibilidad de tomar las decisiones del personal  que mas beneficien a los alumnos.

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La semana de agradecimiento a los maestros

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Teacher and student at IDEA charter schoolLa semana de agradecimiento a los maestros será del 7 al 11 de mayo.  Queremos darles un aviso adelantado para que usted y otros padres tengan suficiente tiempo para hacer un plan.

La semana de agradecimiento a los maestros no es solo para decir gracias, sino también es para reconocer todo el trabajo duro que un maestro pone en la educación de su hijo/a.  No importa lo bien que un maestro hace su trabajo, ellos siempre se sienten que pueden hacer mas lo que puede desmotivar.  La semana de agradecimiento a los maestros es sobre la validación del compromiso y la importancia de lo que hacen día tras día. Dígales los que significan para usted y para su hijo/a…y si, enséñenles su agradecimiento.

¿Cómo lo puede demostrar?

  • Preparar un desayuno para todos los maestros una mañana durante la semana.
  • Colocar flores, bocadillos, café, etc. en el salón de maestros.  Para involucrar a los estudiantes, ellos pueden decorar un cartel con mensajes de agradecimiento.
  • Poner regalos chiquitos en los buzones de los maestros –Comprar el libro favorito de cada maestro y hacer que todos sus estudiantes firmen dentro del libro.
  • Escribir poemas, cartas o notas de agradecimiento y dejarlas en los buzones de los maestros. Y leerlas durante la asamblea de la manan o sobre el intercomunicador.
  • Los estudiantes pueden usar arte, videos, o cuentos para hacer notas de agradecimiento.  Los estudiantes podrán representar obras de teatro que retratan lo que sería la vida de ellos sin maestros.
  • Hacer que los estudiantes tomen órdenes del café y postre favorito de cada maestro y que sean entregados por otros alumnos temprano en la mañana.
  • Usar a la comunidad (padres, administradores, o cónyuges de los maestros) y organizar una hora de substitución durante el almuerzo para que puedan disfrutar una comida fuera del salón de clase.
  • Hacer que cada salón de planta decore  una caja de zapatos o un florero que los maestros pueden usar para guardar notas especiales, cartas, regalos, y otros tesoros.
  • Los padres y estudiantes pueden organizar una semana de actos amables (por ejemplo: lavar las ventanas del salón, organizar los estantes, lavar sus caros en el estacionamiento)  Los estudiantes pueden ser extra caballerosos y respetuosos abriendo le la puerta a su maestra, trayéndole una taza de café en la mañana a su maestro, sacando la basura, etc.
  • Capturar las memorias del año tomando fotos creativas de la clase y poniéndolas en cuadros o en un álbum de fotos.
  • Conducir entrevistas de los estudiantes hablando de maestros específicos, y contestando preguntas serias y humorosas.  Estas respuestas pueden ser presentadas en una asamblea, vía video, o una colección de frases en un libro.
  • Lo que sea que usted y otros padres decidan hacer para darles gracias a los maestros, asegúrese involucrar a los estudiantes.  Nada toca el corazón de un maestro más que los agradecimientos sinceros de sus estudiantes.
    Communities United logo

    Notas para los defensores:

    Sigan defendiendo a las escuelas “charter” todo el año

    En una reunión reciente en una escuela en Houston, fui recordada que el movimiento de las escuelas “charters” tienen aliados y socios que cuyo trabajo se base en un concepto similar, una opción educativa.

    Los padres de Houston y los miembros de la comunidad, se reunieron para apoyar la decisión de poder elegir escuelas en cualquier ambiente educativo; sea pública o privada. Los miembros de los distritos escolares del área de Houston hablaron con el publico de los programas de “magnet”, las escuelas privadas hablaron muy bien de sus programas, y los lideres de las escuelas “charter” hablaron de sus misiones y como educan a sus estudiantes.

    Aunque cada escuela, que está trabajando para apoyar la decisión de poder elegir escuelas, sea diferente una a la otra, compartimos el mismo objetivo—proveer una educación de calidad.

    La reunión de apoyar la decisión de poder elegir escuelas en Houston, fue un gran ejemplo de familias celebrando la oportunidad de encontrar la mejor educación para sus hijos.

    Es el esfuerzo de los padres lo que inspira a TCSA para continuar a luchar para el uso de poder escoger escuelas en el movimiento de escuelas “charters”.

    Trabajando con nuestros miembros de apoyo de la comunidad los hace más fuerte. ¡Y este mes les hablamos para que actúen!

    Como hemos dicho antes “nadie puede hacer todo, pero todos podemos hacer algo”.  Trabaje con un grupo de padres para planear un evento que habla muy bien de su escuela para los oficiales de la ciudad y el estado.  Mande correo electrónico a Jennifer Limas para asistencia en planeando un evento.

    ¡Juntos, podemos construir más apoyo para las escuelas “charter” y la calidad de la educación pública que ofrecen!

    Jennifer Limas
    Directora de Grassroots Advocacy
    Texas Charter Schools Association

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    Teacher Appreciation Week

    Monday, February 27th, 2012

    Teacher and student at IDEA charter schoolTeacher Appreciation Week is coming up May 7-11. We wanted to give warning so that you and your fellow parents have plenty of time to think and plan.

    Teacher Appreciation Week is not only about saying thank you, it is about recognizing the hard-work and heart that a teacher puts into your child’s education. No matter how well a teacher does their job, they always feel like they could be doing more, and that burden can be defeating. Teacher Appreciation Week is about validating their commitment and the importance of what they do day-in and day-out. Tell them what they mean to you and your child…and yes, show them your appreciation.


  • Prepare breakfast for all the teachers one morning during the week.
  • Place flowers, snacks, coffee, etc. in the teachers’ lounge. To involve the students, you can have them decorate the butcher paper table cloth with messages of thanks.
  • Put small gifts in each teacher’s mailbox—Purchase each teacher’s favorite book and have all their students sign the inside cover.
  • Write poems, letters or notes of appreciation and leave them in teachers’ mailboxes. Read them at morning assembly or over the intercom.
  • Students can create thank you messages through artwork, videos, or stories. Students could act out skits portraying what life would be like without that teacher.
  • Have students take orders for each teacher’s favorite coffee and pastries from the local coffeehouse and have them delivered by other students early in the morning.
  • Use the community (parents, administrators, spouses of the teachers) and organize an hour of substitution during lunch so that they can enjoy a meal outside of their classrooms.
  • Have each teacher’s homeroom class decorate a shoe box or flowerpot that the teacher can use to store special notes, cards, gifts, and other treasures.
  • Parents and students can organize a week of random acts of kindness. (i.e. wash classroom windows, organize shelves, wash their car in the parking lot.) Students can be extra chivalrous and respectful by opening her door all week, bringing him a cup of coffee in the morning, taking out the trash, etc.)
  • Capture the memories of the year by taking creative class pictures and having them framed or placed in a photo album.
  • Conduct student interviews about specific teachers, and ask both serious and humorous questions. These responses can be presented at an assembly, via video, or as a collection of quotes in a book.
  • Whatever you and your fellow parents decide to do to thank your teachers, make sure the students are involved. Nothing touches the heart of a teacher more than the sincere thanks of their students.

    Communities United logoAdvocate Notes:

    Keep advocating for charter schools all year long

    At a recent school choice rally in Houston, I was reminded that the charter school movement has allies and partners whose work is grounded in similar thought, educational choice.

    Houston parents and community members gathered to support school choice in all educational environments; both public and private. Members of Houston area traditional school districts spoke to the audience about magnet programs, private schools highlighted their programs and the charter school leaders spoke about their school’s missions and ways they educate children.

    Although each school working in school choice may be different from one another, we share the same goal—providing quality education.

    The Houston School Choice Rally was a great expression of families celebrating the freedom to find the best education for their children.

    It is the spirit of empowered parents that inspires TCSA to continue fighting for the use of school choice in the charter school movement.

    Working with our community of supporters makes us stronger. So this month we are calling you to act!

    As we have said in the past: “no one can do everything, but everyone can do something”. Work with your parent group to plan an event that highlights your school to local city and/or state officials. Email Jennifer Limas for planning assistance.

    Together, we will build greater support for charter schools and the quality public education they provide!

    Jennifer Limas
    Director of Grassroots Advocacy
    Texas Charter Schools Association

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    Re: IDEA Public Schools Community Meeting

    Thursday, December 8th, 2011

    Jennifer Limas, TCSA Director of Grassroots Advocacy

    Neighborhoods are defined by their communities. Attending a community meeting in Metz Recreation center earlier this week affirmed—as a long time Austin resident, what I already knew—the residents of East Austin are passionate and committed to their neighborhoods.

    The community has shown a strong presence at numerous town hall meetings held over the past few months to discuss the potential collaboration between Austin ISD and IDEA Public Schools, an active member of TCSA.

    As a person who has worked in Austin’s non-profit community for ten years, I know the challenges and history our East Austin communities have faced. Inequities in education have long plagued these areas and change is long overdue.

    Change is not always initially celebrated; especially by a public who may still be uncertain about charter schools’ role in education. Directing the grassroots advocacy effort for TCSA, I’ve seen firsthand that although we have made significant gains, the charter movement has more work to do to increase public awareness of our schools.

    Charters and traditional public schools both have a central role to play in public education, and parents and students want and need them both.

    In communities across this state—like Dallas and in Houston—school districts are also beginning to partner with charters to both emulate some of the successful practices of charter schools and to joint venture a number of campuses.
    Its time to embrace charters, work with them, and ensure the lessons learned are put to use for the betterment of ALL public schools.

    Jennifer Limas
    Director of Grassroots Advocacy

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    Staying Active in Grassroots Advocacy

    Friday, October 14th, 2011

    When a charter school raises the profile of their school in a community they strengthen the charter movement. Educating and engaging your supporters is not only critical to the success each individual school, it is imperative to the growth of the charter community.

    Our schools are as diverse as the students we serve – we may differ in mission but we share challenges. As a community, our schools are often overlooked or misunderstood. Sometimes, we have to work extra to overcome those challenges.

    Through my work with TCSA’s grassroots campaign, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with many of our member schools as they work to educate their communities and equip their supporters to act on charter school issues.

    Each school has their own approach in managing this work. Some schools, like East Austin College Prep respond to the needs of parents, students and community through several leadership development programs. The grassroots team and I have attended and presented at many of EAP’s trainings and meetings. The school’s two primary groups are – the Academia de Padres/Parent Academy, developed to increase parents capacity to support their students education path and the EAP’s Concilio de Padres/Parent Council, a parent organization dedicated to uniting board members, parents, staff and community to discuss issues effecting EACP and its surrounding neighborhood.

    In San Antonio, KIPP Camino campus invited community members to hear directly from school leaders on their approach to education. Events like these provide a forum for the public to gain a greater understanding of this school’s innovative approach to education and the great opportunity it affords its students.

    Down the road, at New Frontiers charter school, a ribbon cutting ceremony for their renovated facility gives the school an opportunity to invite local officials, State Board of Education members and neighbors into their school. The best way to understand and appreciate charter schools is to visit one.

    TCSA applauds East Austin College Prep, KIPP San Antonio, New Frontiers and all other member schools who are proactively engaging their supporters and working to advance the movement.

    During the interim leading to the next legislative session, TCSA is looking to help member schools develop campus advocacy action plans. We will meet with campus leadership and identify ways to increase your presence in the community.

    To ensure our interim work continues, TCSA has recently launched a contribution drive in support of our grassroots programs. We ask you to support this effort and promote it on your social media sites.

    We challenge our member schools to stay active in grassroots advocacy and strengthen our unified voice!

    Jennifer D Limas
    Director of Grassroots Advocacy, TCSA

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    Apoyar a su escuelas chárter de Texas

    Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

    Más de 390 escuelas chárter en Texas, y más de 120.000 estudiantes que atienden, han beneficiado de su ardura dedicación para la reforma de la educación pública. Nuestra red de defensores es ahora una de las más grandes del país. Con su ayuda, hemos afectado a las leyes que afectan a nuestras escuelas chárter públicas.

    Necesitamos su ayuda para asegurar que este esfuerzo continúe y nuestra voz se haga más fuerte.

    Éxitos del año pasado fueron posibles gracias a una beca filantrópica que se expira en noviembre. Es fundamental que se utilice el ínterin legislativo de base para continuar la programación regional para producir mejores resultados en el próximo período legislativo. Tuvimos progresos en la sesión anterior, pero todavía se necesita terminar bastante trabajo para traer las reformas políticas pro-chárter para poder ayudar a la mayoría de los estudiantes posibles de Texas.

    TCSA está buscando hacia los defensores de chárters para que apoyen y mantengan nuestro programa de “grassroots” para asegurar que el movimiento de escuelas chárter de Texas fortalezca antes de la próxima sesión legislativa.

    Durante la última sesión legislativa TCSA fue capaz de:
    •    Ayudar a asegurar la victoria legislativa más grande para las escuelas chárter en más de una década. Después de tantos años luchando para obtener fondos para construcción y renovaciones, muchas escuelas chárter podrán recibir financiación estatal igual que todas las escuelas públicas.
    •    Organizar y asistir a más de 270 eventos en las escuelas y visitar a más de 60 legisladores del estado;
    •    Entregar a más de 43.000 tarjetas postales para informar a los legisladores acerca de sus prioridades para las escuelas chárter;
    •    Realizar ralis de escuelas chárter, en febrero y mayo en la Capital con más de 2.800 asistentes;
    •    Enviar a más de 250 acciones de alerta informando le cuando necesita contactar a su legislador sobre selecta legislación.

    Cada contribución nos ayuda a crecer. Dona ahora y conéctese a nuestra red de Comunidades Unidas. Su contribución le da acceso a lo siguiente:
    •    Eventos regionales para defensores de “grassroots”
    •    TCSA E-boletín
    •    Ralis en la capital en 2012
    •    Oportunidades en su área para tomar un papel activo en el movimiento

    La  Asociación de Escuelas Chárter de Texas es una organización sin fines de lucro 501 (c) 3 y una organización de caridad, su donación es 100% deducible de impuestos.

    Ayúdenlos a seguir trabajando para los 120.000 estudiantes, 390 escuelas y miles de personas que se encuentran en las listas de espera de las escuelas chárter.

    Juntos, verdaderamente somos una Comunidad Unida.

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    Support Your Texas Charters

    Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

    Over 390 Texas charter schools, and over 120,000 students they serve, have benefited from your passion to reform public education. Our advocate network is now one of the largest in the country. With your help, we have affected laws that impact our public charter schools.

    We need your help to ensure that this effort continues and our voice grows louder.

    Last year’s successes were made possible by a philanthropic grant that expires in November. It is critical that we use the legislative interim to continue grassroots regional programming to produce greater results in the coming legislative term. We made progress last session, but there is lots of work left to be done to bring pro-charter policy reforms to help the most Texas students possible.

    TCSA is looking to charter advocates to support and maintain our grassroots advocacy program to ensure that the Texas charter school movement strengthens before the next legislative session.

    During the last legislative session TCSA was able to:
    •    Help secure the biggest legislative win for charter schools in more than a decade. After years struggling to secure funding for construction and renovations, many charters will now be able to receive state backed financing just like all other public schools;
    •    Host and attend over 270 campus events and visit over 60 state lawmakers;
    •   Deliver over 43,000 postcards informing lawmakers about your charter school priorities;
    •    Hold charter school rallies in both February and May at the state Capitol with over 2,800 total attendees;
    •   Send over 250 action alerts informing you when to contact your legislator regarding select legislation.

    Every contribution helps us grow. Donate now and get connected to our Communities United network. Your contribution gives you access to the following:
    •    Regional Grassroots Advocacy Events
    •    TCSA E-Newsletter
    •    2012 State Capitol Rallies
    •    Opportunities in your area to take an active role in the movement

    The Texas Charter Schools Association is a nonprofit 501(c)3 charitable organization; your donation is 100% tax deductible.

    Help us keep working for 120,000 students, 390 schools and thousands on charter school waiting lists.

    Together we are truly Communities United.

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    The True Story in the TCER Report

    Friday, August 26th, 2011

    As each report on charter schools is released, rest assured our critics dig deep to find small slivers of negative news. This time, good news shines through in the Evaluation of New Texas Charter Schools (2007-2010) released this past July by the Texas Center for Educational Research.

    #1:  The TCER report highlights the need for Texas charter school facilities funding.
    What would have been helpful to have during the pursuit for access to the Permanent School Fund bond guarantee, the recently released TCER report strengthens the charter movement’s case for facilities funding during the next legislative session.

  • Perhaps the most daunting challenge for new charter schools is locating and funding adequate facilities. … Currently, 27 states and the District of Columbia provide some form of facilities assistance for charter schools. Such provisions include guaranteed loan programs, state reimbursements for facilities costs, per-pupil facilities allotments, the rent-free provision of vacant public school buildings, as well as the inclusion of charter school facility needs in traditional district bond. In spite of these efforts, many charter school operators report diverting instructional funds to pay for facilities, which may negatively affect instruction. Pg 6.
  • Although Texas operates one of the nation’s largest charter school programs, it does not provide facilities funding or facilities assistance to its open-enrollment or university charter schools. However, the state does allow for an approved bonding authority to issue bonds to finance or refinance an authorized charter school.  Pg 7. 
  • #2: TCER report confirms parents are both satisfied & active in their child’s new charter school.  
    The TCER reports shows charter parents like their child’s charter school and are more involved in their education. It’s no surprise that Texas had the first, and largest, grassroots advocacy program specifically for charter school parents in the country.

  • “Findings indicate that parents were satisfied with schools’ educational programs, instruction, enrichment programs, and approaches to discipline.” Pg. 125. A majority of these parents (65%) reported general satisfaction with their students’ (open-enrollment charter) schools.  Pg 127.
  • “A Generation 14 teacher appreciated working in a choice-based school because students are from homes where the parents are involved with their child’s education.’ ” Pg 103.
  • “Staff in most open-enrollment and university charter schools that participated as case study sites for the evaluation reported that parents were actively involved in their schools, and some school administrators felt parents’ active choice of a charter school contributed to high levels of involvement.” Pg 103.
  • “Surveyed parents in open-enrollment charters tended to report greater involvement in school activities than (district) campus charter parents. This difference may reflect greater buy-in to school missions, goals, and activities on the part of parents who have actively sought open-enrollment charters as an alternative to traditional district schools.” Pg 110.
  • A charter school director explained the parent’s decision, ‘”When you go to the trouble to fill out an application and apply for your child to come, and then your child’s name is drawn or selected (in a lottery), I think they [parents] almost feel that it is a privilege to be here and so they come really wanting to be part of that [the school].” Pg 103.
  • #3: TCER report confirms teachers are happy working in new charter schools.
    Charter teacher attrition is a national issue. Improving charters and infusing quality is at our core we plan to keep training on strong administration, work environment and teacher morale.  Teachers that are underperforming are asked to leave, which is often in the interest of the students. Charters also attract many young and new teachers from Teach For America that move quickly. The TCER report confirms that although they’re likely to move they enjoy their jobs, and both parents and students are satisfied with their work. 

  • “Across both open-enrollment and campus charter schools, surveyed teachers expressed general satisfaction with school leaders, expressing high levels of agreement with statements indicating school administrators set high standards, communicated effectively, and provided strong leadership.” Pg 110.
  • On average, campus charter teachers spent about 11 days in professional development during the 2009-10 school year, which likely reflects increased access to training opportunities offered through parent districts. Pg 162.
  • #4. TCER report confirms students prefer their new charter schools.
    The TCER report indicates that students in open-enrollment charter schools prefer the instruction they received at their new charter compared to their previous educational experiences.

  • “Students attending most campuses (12) attributed improvements to high quality teachers.” Pg 121.
  • “Students attending 15 campus charter schools wrote that their charter schools provided a superior education relative to other schools. Students indicated that campus charters offered challenging courses that addressed meaningful subjects, and students at six schools liked that instruction at their schools was not focused solely on preparing for TAKS.” Pg 121.
  • “Like students attending open-enrollment charters, campus charter students felt teacher quality was better in charter schools. Students wrote that teachers provided “individual attention” and differentiated instruction to match students’ learning styles.  Pg 121.
  • Students included in the TCER analysis were 3,660 students enrolled in 37 charter schools that were in operation in 2009-2010.  This equates to roughly 3% of our total charter school student population selected from only 9% of our charter schools.  The report wasn’t representative of student performance in charter schools and the authors of the paper included the following footnote to make this point, “Readers are cautioned that the students included in the analyses of new open-enrollment charter schools’ effects on academic outcomes may not be representative of all students attending new open-enrollment charter schools.” Pg vii. Although there’s no mention of it – in a more comprehensive report prepared by TEA and delivered to the Texas Legislature in 2009- 2010, Standard Accountability charter school districts outperformed traditional school districts from 6th to 12th grade in the critical areas of reading, math, science and social studies.

    We are in business to provide quality public education options for families across Texas.  When reports come out from time to time and various lobbying groups decide to take aim at our cause, we just want to set the record straight. Thanks for taking the time to read our two cents.

    Josie Duckett
    TCSA Vice President
    Public and Government Affairs

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