Two of the important conference breakout strands emphasize training in effective governance as well as developing school and network leadership systems. Here’s a sampling of breakout sessions in these two strands:

Why is Good Charter School Governance so Difficult? presented by Mike Mizzoni of BoardOnTrack – Monday, October 28 – 10:45 a.m.

Great boards are well-staffed and well-supported. They have the right people in the right roles, doing the right work. And, by measuring their performance, they improve their capabilities over time. In this interactive workshop, we'll hand over the keys to great charter school governance. Whether you're focused on ending your first year strong, preparing to replicate, and managing a rapidly-scaling organization, you'll take away actionable strategies and practices for your governance team. Together, we'll explore:

  • How to ensure you've got the right people in the right roles, from charter starter to rapidly-scaling organization
  • The systems and processes that make great board meetings
  • How to establish and strengthen a board-CEO partnership that, in turn, strengthens your organization.

If you don't grow your people, who will? A Model for Developing Organizational Capacity: presented by Troy Mooney, EdD and Lani Norman of Life SchoolTuesday, October 29th, 2:00 p.m.

Employees are overtrained and underdeveloped. Learn how to develop leaders at all levels in your organization to improve student outcomes. Participants will explore how to build capacity by redefining systems and empowering leaders in order to create a sustainable learning culture that will:

  • Develop a systematic approach to creating leaders at all levels in their organization
  • Build organizational capacity through systems-thinking
  • Identify critical personnel groups to develop that improve student outcomes

Avoiding Chaos: Leadership Development and Succession Planning presented by attorney Darrick Eugene of Darick Eugene Law Firm – Wednesday, October 30th, 9:45 a.m.

The charter school movement started over 20 years ago and organizations that were new and novel are now mature and possibly in transition. As these organizations grow from founder lead to management lead, they may experience growing pains and challenges with navigating that path. This presentation will provide guidelines and strategies for leadership development and succession planning that will give school leadership resources to avoid potential pitfalls. Through case studies, group discussion and real world examples attendees will be encouraged to participate in and lead their organizations to new horizons.

  • Have you registered for the conference? Do so now before rates go up!
  • Have you downloaded the 2019 Conference App? It’s the best way to get the most updated information about the conference, including speakers, sessions, and special events!
  • Questions? Call our conference registration hotline at 1-855-389-8723 or email us at

The Call for Proposals to present a professional development session at the 2018 TCSA Conference is open now through May 15th.  Whether you are a CEO or CFO, involved in curriculum and instruction, operations, personnel management, communications, school safety, or a host of other areas, there is a conference training category that will help to define your idea and assist attendees as they choose sessions.  That said, your proposal should link to one or more of the professional development strands promoted by TCSA:  Innovation, Advocacy, Finance, Governance, Leadership and Coaching, Operations, Student Success and Learning, School Law, Growth, Safety and Security, Strategic Planning, Marketing, and Communication. 

You may be thinking that you don’t want to spend the time developing a proposal unless you have a pretty good idea that it will be selected by the conference committee.  Here’s a secret to increase the odds for selection: make sure your proposal is PERFECT!  In other words, your proposal should have the following characteristics:

  • Portability – the information provided can be used and applied by other member schools
  • Explicitness – what you present should be clear and understandable to your audience
  • Relevance– the topic should be applicable to the current Texas charter environment
  • Fidelity –current law, rules, and policy ideas should be linked to your presentation
  • Excellence - research-based best practices are shared with your audience
  • Creativity – the topic presented addresses an important issue or theme in a unique and different manner
  • Tonality – your session should be interesting and interactive – not a boring lecture!

All of us at TCSA marvel at the wonderful practices we see when we have the opportunity to visit our member schools.   The strength of the charter movement in Texas is found in its charter holders and the great things you do every day to promote student success.  Please consider taking the time to share those successes through a 2018 TCSA conference session proposal.  Please contact me if you have any additional questions related to the proposal process.  We have a significant opportunity to thrive and grow as a movement when we share our best practices with our fellow school leaders! 

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TCSA is excited to announce this year's Keynote Speaker for the 2017 Texas Charter Schools Conference: Dr. Christopher Emdin.

Dr. Emdin is an Associate Professor of Science Education and Director of Science Education in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University. He also serves as Associate Director of the Institute For Urban and Minority Education at the college.

Dr. Emdin holds a Ph.D. in Urban Education with a concentration in Mathematics, Science and Technology, a M.S. in Natural Sciences, and Bachelors degrees in Physical Anthropology, Biology, and Chemistry.

He was recently awarded the 2016 Early Career Award by the American Educational Researchers Association and 2015 Multicultural Educator of the Year by the National Association of Multicultural Educators.

Professor Emdin was also selected as a STEM Access Champion of Change by the White House, and currently serves as Minorities in Energy Ambassador for the United States Department of Energy.

Dr. Emdin is also listed on the ROOT100 list of most influential African Americans in the fields of business, science, politics, technology, social justice, sports and entertainment.

He is founder of the #HipHopEd movement, and the author of the award winning book, Urban Science Education for the Hip-Hop Generation, and the New York Times bestseller, For White Folks Who Teach In The Hood...and the Rest of Ya'll Too.

Some of the topics he'll be discussing include:
• The Crisis of Urban Education
• Teaching & Learning from the Student's Standpoint
• Hip-Hop & Education
• Rethinking STEM

Don't miss this exciting speaker and register today!  We look forward to seeing you next week.

Speakers and session content are now available for the 2017 TCSA Charter Schools Conference in the TCSA Conference App. The conference will convene national and state charter school innovators, reformers, and leaders at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine on October 11-13, 2017. Two new strands have been added to the conference this year, Strategic Planning and Focus on Growth, as many of our state leaders have been tasked with expanding their charter system to new areas.

Here are a couple of presentations that we are excited to see at the conference this year:

Creating High Performing High-Poverty Schools presented by Ericka Johnson from Responsive Education Solutions. In this session, Johnson will model how to transform a high-poverty campus that is low-performing into a high-performing campus in one year. Participants will leave inspired to transform campuses using best practices and shared leadership, parent and community engagement, and data driven decision making.

Delightful Customer Service presented by Dr. Becky Good from Legacy Preparatory Charter Academy. Come learn how Legacy Prep Charter rolled out the need to bring delightful customer service to internal customers (staff) and then external customers (students, parents, and other stakeholders).

Efficiency, Accountability and Transparency in Procurement presented by Mehmet Bayar from Harmony Public Schools. In this session, Bayar shares how to ensure efficiency, accountability and transparency in public procurement and why it is critical to stretch school dollars to best serve charter students. Bayar discusses how Harmony’s purchasing department ensured that purchasing and contracting activities are legal, accountable, auditable, ethically responsible, and economically effective.

Outside the Box: The first dual credit senior high campus in Texas presented by Dr. Joann Simmons from the University of Texas at Tyler. Join this session to learn how the campus uses a flipped model of instruction to teach students rigorous STEM content using project-based learning (PBL) strategies. Learn how accelerated content and high expectations changed student outcomes on this charter’s three campuses.

21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell presented by Ana Medoza from Vanguard Academy. During this session, presenters will share a model used to implement leadership training with all central office and campus administrators.

Please review all of the sessions that will be presented at this year’s conference in the TCSA Conference App. We encourage you to register today. We hope to see you at the beautiful Gaylord Texan in October!

A number of TCSA staff members had the opportunity to attend the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ annual conference, NCSC17, earlier this week in Washington D.C. There were approximately 4,000 attendees representing all aspects of the charter spectrum including charter CEOs, teachers and staff, governance boards, state charter support organizations (CSO) like TCSA, foundations and charter grant funders, charter management organizations, legislators, higher education institutions, charter authorizers, state education agencies, state and national policy organizations, and vendors representing every aspect of the charter sector including curriculum materials, human capital management, and charter facility construction and financing. More than 200 breakout sessions were loosely grouped into five major strands targeted towards charter school operations, leadership, instruction, policy, and governance, while state charter support organizations were able to participate in sessions that were “off the grid” and specifically focused on improving the performance of CSOs in their support of member schools through the sharing of best practices in areas of legislative advocacy, leadership practices, special education support, and school performance.

Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, shared some recent public charter school accomplishments including that six out of the top 10 high schools in the U.S. are charter schools (US News and World Report); Colorado recently passed a law equalizing funding for charters and traditional public schools; the new administration has proposed an increase in spending for charter schools by 50 percent; and the creation of a unified traditional public school-charter board in Los Angeles. She also noted some setbacks to the charter movement, including the defeat of a Massachusetts amendment to lift the cap on public charter schools and the increase in litigation across the country that challenges the existence of public charters.

Two notable speakers highlighted the general session agendas. Dr. Steve Perry, CEO of Connecticut-based Capital Preparatory Schools, addressed attendees on Monday. You may recall that Dr. Perry served as one of the keynote speakers at our TCSA conference last October. Steve continued his “disruption of the establishment” theme, proclaiming that the most controversial thing we can do as educators is to give access to education to disenfranchised children. He declared that it should be offensive to us as educators that we must fight for something (school choice) that should have been given to us at birth. Perry’s message also outlined a call to action for charter leaders, including the admonition that our legislators should be notified every time a student enrolls in one of our schools or is put on a waiting list. He highlighted the need for more African American and Latino educators to take leadership roles in the charter movement, and he challenged educators to understand the necessity to support current political efforts to promote school choice, even if you may disagree with other elements of the current administration platform. At the conclusion of Dr. Perry’s remarks, IDEA CEO Tom Torkelson introduced the finalists for the $250,000 Broad Prize for the top public charter school, including the Denver School of Science, Texas’ own Harmony Public Schools and the Broad prize winner, Success Academy of New York.

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos addressed a standing-room only crowd on Tuesday, expressing her support of the charter movement as well as other forms of school choice including traditional public education, private schools, and vouchers. She stated that “a system that denies parents the freedom to choose the education that best suits their children’s individual and unique needs denies them a basic human right - it is un-American, and it is fundamentally unjust.” She detailed her history of partnership with the school choice movement, including her contributions in crafting Michigan’s charter law in the 1990’s and her involvement in the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a public charter school founded by her husband. While reminding the audience that public charter schools prove that “quality and choice can coexist,” she added that they “are not the one cure-all to the ills that beset education” and provided an example of three successful Miami-area schools she recently visited – a public charter, a private school, and a traditional public school, noting that the common factor with all three schools was the satisfaction of the parents that their chosen school was providing their child a quality education.

As an association, TCSA staff members are working diligently to provide you leadership and value in the areas of charter school advocacy and quality member services for our great charter schools across the state of Texas. Conferences like NCSC 2017 help your organization to reinforce its commitment to the mission that we share with all of our member schools – to improve student achievement in Texas by advocating for and strengthening Texas’s diverse set of high quality charter schools.

Last month, seven charter school business officers and superintendents were presented for graduation at the 2016 Texas Charter Schools Conference annual awards luncheon.

These graduates completed 60 hours of comprehensive coursework in the charter-specific areas of: Leadership, Charter, & Culture; Financial Management; Facilities & Operations Management; Grants Management; and Personnel Management.

They are now equipped to maximize their charter's funds in the complex charter school compliance arena and assist their student body by providing a well-funded, high-quality education.

Some of the best performing Texas charters contribute their success, in part, to their CSBOC graduates. These schools have chosen to invest in success by encouraging their business office staff to complete their Charter School Business Officer Certification (CSBOC).

The 2016 CBSOC graduates are:

• Martha Smith, Chief Business Officer, Beta Academy, Houston, TX
• Jordan Elliott, HR Services Director, Charter School Success
• Sigal Russo, Business Officer, Eleanor Kolitz Hebrew Language Academy, San Antonio, TX
• Carrie Tate, Superintendent, The Pro-Vision Academy, Houston, TX
• Samantha Williams, Business Officer, The Pro-Vision Academy, Houston, TX
• Sharon Cummings, Business Officer, Richard Milburn Academy Texas, McQueeney, TX
• Murtuza Babrawala, Business Officer, Ser Ninos Charter School, Houston, TX (not pictured)

Please join us in celebrating the hard work and accomplishments of the 2016 Texas Charter School Business Officer graduates!

The 2016 Texas Charter Schools Conference is the largest gathering of its kind for the charter school community in the state and was held in Austin earlier this week. More than 1,600 attendees participated in training sessions over three days.

The Conference Chair, John Armbrust of Austin Achieve, kicked off the conference with a warm welcome followed by a video message from Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

David Dunn, the Executive Director for the Texas Charter Schools Association, delivered remarks celebrating 20 years of public charter schools in the state. He also provided an update on the state of the sector to the conference attendees. Additionally, there was a special performance from the Rhodes School choir and students who spoke about why they love their charter school at the opening session.

Dr. Steve Perry provided the opening keynote address and inspired conference participants with some straight talk about the charter movement. He revved up the crowd to keep striving and continue the necessary work in providing quality options within public education.

There were nearly 100 exhibitors and 155 training sessions on topics such as IDEA, budget creation, HR best practices, the national lunch program, cameras in the classroom, data, coding skills, bonds, financial integrity, among many, many more subjects.

A TCSA Member Council Meeting was also held at the conference to announce the newly elected members of the TCSA Board of Directors. John Armbrust of Austin Achieve and Rick Baumgartner of Rise Academy in Lubbock were announced as the Small School Representatives. Separately, the following were announced as members of the Elected Advocacy Committee:

  • Large School Representative: Janelle James, Southwest Schools
  • Small School Representative: Richard Rickey, Orenda Education
  • RTC/JDC Representative: Bruce Rockstroh, John H. Wood Jr. Charter District
  • University Charter Representative: Melissa Chavez, University of Texas Elementary Charter School

One of the biggest highlights of the conference was an appearance by Governor Greg Abbott who was the keynote speaker at the closing session. He delivered remarks in strong support of public charter schools and called education a “civil rights issue.” The conference participants were encouraged and excited by his strong commitment to public charter schools in the state.

The conference ended with remarks from Deputy Commissioner AJ Crabill, additional award winners, a dance performance, and a Q&A session with Andre Agassi and Bobby Turner who raise funds to support charter schools across the country.

TCSA thanks everyone for their support in making the 2016 Texas Charter Schools Conference a success! We extend a special thank you to the more than 1,600 conference attendees for their participation! We cannot wait until next year!

By Dorothy Gentry, 4th Grade Teacher, A.W. Brown Leadership Fellowship Academy

Note: A.W. Brown charter leaders will be presenting at the 2015 Texas Charter Schools Conference during the Principals Workshop on Wednesday, October 28, to discuss hiring and retaining high-quality teachers.

Angela Brown is a true example of a success story in teaching. The long-time employee of A.W. Brown Fellowship Leadership Academy in Dallas, a successful Texas charter school, is passionate about the field of education and about teaching at the two-campus academy.

Brown began at A.W. Brown as a substitute teacher in January of 2005 and was officially hired as a teacher’s assistant in March 2008. Ten years at the school and she said, “I’ve loved every moment.”

As the special education teacher for the past three years at A.W. Brown’s Early Childhood Campus she said the school’s vision is key to why she stays.

“First off, what made me get on board with this school was the vision that it has for its students and the community,” Brown said. “They want to make the world a better place one student at a time and it has been an amazing privilege to see it unfolding and steadily coming to fruition right before my eyes.”

Brown said the school supported her in efforts to gain additional education.

“[They] allowed so many doors to open up for me once I was ready to move up. They continue to support and nurture my growth by presenting multiple opportunities to get involved,” she said.

The school feels like a family, where she can speak openly with others about any concerns, Brown said.

An A.W. Brown teacher who has been with the school nearly since it began in 1998.

An A.W. Brown teacher who has been with the school nearly since it began in 1998.

“Words cannot express the joy I have of being able to watch these children grow from babies to teenagers, and then they come back to visit as adults,” Brown said. “They thank us for all we instilled in them and taught them. My own daughter was 3-years-old when she started here, and now she is in the 7th grade.”

Brown said she feels “secure and comfortable” at A.W. Brown and plans to stay as long as possible.

“With the constant growth and success at this school I feel like the sky is the limit and I have no reason not to continue to be loyal to them as they have been to me,” Brown said. “This is one district that I truly feel secure in. They make me feel appreciated in everything I do.”

Other schools can adopt those practices by starting with the board and administrators, she said.

“Ours is awesome. They do a great job letting us know how much we are appreciated and acknowledge that none of this would be possible without us,” she said.

Brown believes the regular evaluations and continuous positive feedback is crucial to the success of the school. Also important is having a good vision of what you are trying to accomplish and then determining what steps are necessary to achieve it.

“They do a good job making sure new teachers are aware of the vision and the steps and why we are all here. For veterans they never let us get complaisant. They find new exciting ways to break down the vision and mission and those steps we need to complete in order to accomplish them,” Brown said.

The vision of A.W. Brown-Fellowship Leadership Academy is to provide a learning environment in which children are trained, prepared and equipped for life leadership and academic excellence. The mission of A.W. Brown-Fellowship Leadership Academy is to produce smart, effective, efficient, disciplined students by creating an environment in which teachers feel safe and free to teach and students feel safe and motivated to learn.

A.W. Brown serves more than 2,000 students on two campuses in grades PK thru 8th grade and has more than 200 full- and part-time staff. A.W. Brown has been in existence since 1998.

There's less than a month left to register for the only statewide conference for Texas public charter school leaders and educators!

The Texas Charter Schools Conference is early this year on October 28-30, so don't miss out on specialized workshops, dozens of educational sessions and networking opportunities with industry experts. You make the conference better each year and we hope to see you in San Antonio!

Check out the great video below to review fun snapshots from at last year's Texas Charter Schools Conference.

By Dr. Paula Moeller, TCSA Director of Training

Calling all public charter school teachers!

The first few months of school are exhilarating, but they can also be exhausting.

For your students, take a day to focus on you at the Texas Charter Schools Conference on Friday, October 30, at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa.

Through this full-day teacher workshop you’ll receive expert training in better reaching students with language or discipline barriers. There will also be tools on utilizing classroom technology to go beyond the four walls of your learning zone.

As Texas demographics continue to change, instructional strategies must also improve to engage the students we teach. Register for the workshop and gain the academic language needed to reach second language learners. Also, identify principles to build positive behaviors with your students to maximize your teaching and learning time. And enjoy a power hour of blended learning strategies to capitalize on the technology you already have on your campus.

A one-day teacher pass for the October 30 workshop is only $100 for Texas Charter Schools Association members. Or you can attend the full, three-day conference for $450 for TCSA members.

Register today! Spaces are limited.

Teacher Workshop Presenters:

Kathryn Brown of Visage Collaborative, a leader in ELL strategies developed while working for Edgewood and Northside ISD, ESC Region 20, and IDRA.

Dan St. Romain will lead the discussion surrounding discipline. He is a behaviorist with extensive national experience in training on discipline, brain-based learning, and student engagement strategies. Dan served as a presenter with Quantum Learning and Eric Jensen.