Did you forget to renew your membership before December 31st? Luckily, January is a TCSA membership grace period. The last day to submit your renewal before incurring late fees and losing access to all member benefits is January 31st. Renew today to keep your membership current and continue to access high-quality charter-specific services, like training, data consultation, advocacy and legal support. Other membership benefits include:

  • Representation with the Texas Legislature, Texas Education Agency and State Board of Education.
  • Discounted legal products including model board policies, Student Code of Conduct, and a Personnel Handbook
  • Access to the Learning Zone, TCSA's robust online training portal, and discounted registration rates for the Texas Charter Schools Conference
  • Legal information and advice, as well as updates and alerts on specific matters pertaining to charter schools
  • Tools to engage parents on advocacy efforts with the Texas Legislature
  • Access to a growing market of solution providers and strategically-aligned partnerships with negotiated pricing and contract terms
  • Resources and advice for navigating TEA requirements for your school's growth and expansion

While there is tremendous diversity in the scope, size, and mission of our public charter schools, we must work together as one voice to represent our sector and achieve our common goals. Whether we're advocating for charter-friendly policies at the state capitol or sharing best practices through continuing education and training, we're more effective as one body.  The future is bright for charter schools in this state and for the association, as last year there were nearly 273,000 students at 675 public charter school campuses across the state and we continue to see growth in enrollment and campuses.

Please, take this time to renew or begin a membership with TCSA. Add your voice to the conversation and ensure the charter movement continues to grow and succeed.


HOW TO JOIN OR RENEW

Step 1: Login to the Quality Member Portal 

Applications will be completed in the Quality Member Portal. Once logged in, click the 'Membership' tab at the top. Please click here if you have forgotten your password.

Step 2: Complete the 2018 Online Membership Application

Upon submission of the online application, an invoice will be automatically generated and sent directly to the accounting contact email listed on the application.

Step 3: Remit your Membership Dues to:

Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA)
700 Lavaca Street, Suite 930
Austin, TX 78701

If you have questions, please contact Nadia Luna.
Thank you for your continued support of charter schools in the great state of Texas.

The Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA) offers a variety of grassroots advocacy tools and resources for your public charter school. Whether you are an individual campus or a large network with multiple campuses, we have the bilingual staff and materials to support your grassroots advocacy efforts. Our grassroots support consist of the following:

- Grassroots Consultations
- Grassroots Trainings (Charter 101, Story of Self, Civic Education)
- Strategic planning around parent engagement (recruitment, enrollment, advocacy)
- Opportunities to network with peers and share best practices
- Legislator Outreach Support
- Online Bilingual Advocacy Website/Database
- Legislative one-pagers
- Portable Professional Translation Equipment

Public charter schools exist because of strong advocates. One primary example includes achieving facilities funding during this most recent legislative session, which was made possible thanks to the many parents, teachers, school leaders, and board members advocating for charter schools like yours. We want to help strengthen your advocates to fully engage with your local community and representatives from all levels of government.  Please reach out to us and invite us to your next parent meeting, staff development, or board retreat. We are here to partner with you!

Approximately 20 schools were represented at the most recent Member Council Meeting on Thursday, August 4, 2016. Attendees traveled to Austin’s Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) for the quarterly meeting held by the Texas Charter Schools Association.

Executive Director David Dunn welcomed representatives from TCSA’s member schools and opened the meeting with the first item on the agenda which was TCSA’s 2016 nomination and election process. He provided information on the current nominations and election policy and the upcoming timelines. Member Council Chair Kathleen Zimmerman encouraged others in attendance to consider serving on TCSA’s Board of Directors and spoke about how being a part of the board has benefited her school.

After board discussion ensued, General Counsel Lindsey Gordon and Christine Nishimura, the Director of Legal and Policy Services, provided numerous updates on charter school laws. Gordon spoke to the results of the school finance case, revocation litigation, and the Attorney General’s opinion on charter property. Additionally, she discussed geographic boundaries with respect to student admissions and the accountability rating appeals. Separately, Nishimura briefed meeting participants on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and Title IX guidance on nondiscrimination policies and sexual harassment. Nishimura also provided information regarding special education (SPED), including requirements for all schools to post their SPED policies as part of Region 18's legal framework.

After a full legal briefing, meeting participants turned their attention to Laura Kelly, the Director of Quality for TCSA. Kelly announced the generation 21 approvals from the Texas Education Agency, which included Compass Rose Academy of San Antonio and Goodwater Montessori of Georgetown.

Separately, Paula Moeller, the Director of Training Services, informed member schools of several training opportunities on topics such as PEIMS, coding and reporting requirements for business managers, and a CFO summit. Webinars and on-demand trainings are also available on the Learning Zone. The Texas Charter Schools Conference will provide multiple trainings opportunities on October 3-5, so secure your spot and register today!

After a brief mention from Dunn about the on-going work of Charter Schools Now, the 501 (c)(4), Veronica Garcia, the Vice President of Government and Public Affairs, gave an overview of TCSA’s advocacy efforts including city-based regional grassroots coalitions, legislative engagement, parent/advocate trainings, and communications. She also let meeting attendees know about an upcoming Senate Education hearing on September 14th which will review H.B. 2610 (the minutes bill). Lastly, Garcia announced Wednesday, April 26, 2017, as the date for the TCSA Texas Capitol Rally. Mark your calendars!

It was a full day for member schools and TCSA staff to engage on the most current information on the work of both the association and charter school campuses. TCSA wants to thank all the members who traveled and participated in the meeting. We want to offer a special thanks to our sponsor, Preferred Meals, for providing the lunch and a special presentation by Tom Romano on the importance of healthy and nutritious meals for students.

On April 28, 2016, the Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA) held its quarterly Member Council Meeting at the Texas Computer Education Association Conference (TCEA) Center in Austin. Approximately 65 representatives from TCSA’s member charter schools participated in the day-long meeting.

After a brief welcome by TCSA Executive Director David Dunn, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath kicked off the day with remarks and provided some information on his background which includes serving on the Dallas School Board for four years, attending a public magnet school in Garland and graduating from college in two years, starting a software company, and his work with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program. He also addressed his approach to delivering high quality education to students by including these systemic levers: governance, human capital, instruction, and scope. Some of the questions the Commissioner spoke to were on topics such as the number of days of instruction, community schools, increasing the number of charter holders in the state, and rigor as it pertains to the STAAR test. TCSA appreciates Commissioner Morath taking the time to attend and meet with the charter school operators and representatives from across the state.

The next agenda item was an update on the Board Development Project by Sarahi Gross of El Paso Academy, the Chair of the Board Member Governance Task Force Committee and Kathleen Zimmerman of NYOS who also serves as the Member Council Chair. Gross led the discussion and provided information about their work with Mission Capital, while several other members weighed in on the board election process throughout the discussion. Following this agenda item was dialogue on the call for leadership candidates and nominations, although the formal election process will take place in July.

David Dunn gave an update on the priorities and efforts for Charter Schools Now, the recently developed 501(c) (4). Veronica Garcia, TCSA’s Vice President of Government and Public Affairs, then briefed the members on advocacy and the results from the legislative survey which identified the member’s priorities and determines the agenda for the next legislative session in 2017.

Chris Busse, TCSA’s Vice President for Quality Services, also gave an overview for the Texas Charter Schools Conference which will be October 3-5, 2016, in Austin at the J.W. Marriott. TCSA encourages everyone to register as soon as possible. If you are interested in presenting, make sure to submit your conference proposal for consideration by May 15, 2016.

Veronica Garcia ended the day with a legal update covering topics including waivers for HB 2610, comments for Districts of Innovation, the new Pre-K grant, cameras in special education classrooms (SB 507), and the pending school finance litigation.

TCSA appreciates the members for their participation and also, extends a special thank you to Hertz Furniture for sponsoring the lunch and TCEA for providing the facility space.

By Ezra Hernandez

Dr. Alan Seay decided to hang up his business attire after 30 years of service to public education, retiring from his most recent position as the CEO of A+ Charter Schools, Inc., and Superintendent of Inspired Vision Academy and A+ Academy. His retirement reception on February 8, 2016, marked the formal conclusion of his esteemed position, bringing together many whose lives were somehow made a little more remarkable by his leadership.

Seay entered the charter school world in 2011, after spending his first 25 years as a teacher, coach, principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent in traditional independent school districts.  His arrival to A+ Charter Schools was met with apprehension and concern, as whispered rumors of nuclear changes that would be detrimental to “the best kept secret in Southeast Dallas,” made their way through the campuses.  The man from the ISD world could not possibly understand what it would take to keep the friendly, safe, and innovative environment required in the charter school movement.

As time moved forward, however, it became apparent that Seay did not plan to ruin lives or pollute the charter school environment.  Instead, he became a powerful, but humble, force that Southeast Dallas (and more specifically, Pleasant Grove) had long been lacking—and became a believer, stakeholder, and substantial leader in the charter school movement. 

He ignited a change in the involvement of charter schools in the Southeast Dallas community, becoming a truly active member of the Southeast Dallas Chamber, the Kiwanis Club of Pleasant Grove, Boy Scouts of America, and the Southeast Dallas Hispanic Chamber.  The relationships he helped build cemented the outlook of A+ Charter Schools as significant, unmitigated resources to the Southeast Dallas Community, and to the charter school community as a whole, as the founder of the North Texas Charter Schools’ Superintendent Study Group, his service on the Region 10 Administrative Services Advisory Committee, and his involvement with the Texas Charter Schools Association.

Seay’s incredible impact was evident at his retirement reception, with the room full of friends, family, coworkers, and community leaders, sharing last remarks and a last plate of food with the CEO and Superintendent.  Lance Prothro, President of the Kiwanis Club of Pleasant Grove, spoke on the club’s behalf of Seay’s impressive influence in the club, and throughout the community, and presented Seay with a donation in his name to the charity of his choice. Brenton White, the newly appointed Superintendent of A+ Charter Schools, presented Seay with an achievement award, as well as made a few final remarks on behalf of the appreciation of A+ Schools. And, with no hesitation, Pastor of Inspired Vision Church and founder of A+ Charter Schools, Karen Belknap, made her way to the front to give her immeasurable thanks to Seay’s leadership, and most of all, to his dedication to her original mission of positively transforming the lives of children in Southeast Dallas.

While there were some tears shed at Seay’s reception, it became clear after hearing Seay speak that while he was retiring from his leading role, he was not actually retiring into permanent beach attire. While he will spend the next month lounging at home, he will return to A+ Charter Schools soon after, as a part-time consultant, to oversee a major expansion project of A+ Academy high school, and will also continue to lead the monthly ‘Superintendent Study Group’ meetings.  So don’t play the sad songs of goodbye just yet (see Time of Your Life by Greenday, or Forever Young by Bob Dylan, for future reference)—we haven’t seen the last of Alan Seay.

Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA) held its quarterly Member Council Meeting last Friday, February 5, 2016.  More than 30 attendees representing more than 20 organizations participated in this day-long meeting held at our sponsor’s, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, office in Austin. 

After a brief welcome and introductions by TCSA’s Executive Director David Dunn, General Counsel Lindsey Gordon provided legal updates to the group covering a range of topics including the impact of the new Open Carry laws (HB 910) on school campuses and separately, the new Open Meetings Act requirements.  Additionally, she provided a briefing on HB 2610; information on the issue concerning the disposition of charter school properties; and the open comment period for proposed rules.

TCSA Members also received a briefing from Veronica Garcia, the Vice President of Government and Public Affairs, on Charter Schools Now, a newly formed 501 (c) (4) non-profit corporation, as well as the current status of TCSA’s advocacy efforts including updates from the Senate Education Interim Hearing which discussed the implementation of SB 2, disposition of property, and public charter school facilities funding.

Laura Kelly, TCSA’s Director of Quality, gave a presentation to members on the TEA’s Charter Schools Performance Framework outlining important deadlines and concerns.  As part of the presentation, she walked through a sample report with our members.  Following this presentation, Director of Training Services, Paula Moeller provided dates for upcoming training and professional development events and showed the group the newly created Learning Zone, TCSA’s centralized training website.  One of the primary training opportunities is TCSA’s Annual Conference which will be held in Austin on October 3-5, 2016.  Make sure to sign up for early registration!

TCSA’s members last met in October at the annual conference in San Antonio, so this was an opportune time to share information and best practices, receive updates, and ask questions from the staff.  We want to thank our sponsors, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for hosting the meeting and for their services as one of our solution providers.  We encourage all of our members to attend the next Member Council Meeting on April 28, which will be held at the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) Conference Center in Austin at no charge for TCSA members. Look for more information on the events section of TCSA’s website.

See photos from the February 2016 Member Council Meeting

One of the greatest aspects of working for TCSA is that I get to visit charter schools across the great state of Texas. I love touring schools, seeing children flourish and being inspired by passionate educational entrepreneurs. Last week, David Dunn and I spent three days in North Texas visiting  seven schools, each with something special to share.  From Dropout Recovery to an arts-focused curriculum to IB courses for students K-12, charters are truly offering a variety of high-quality educational choices to students in North Texas.

We were welcomed to Dallas with a tour of Winfree Academy, where we met soon-to-graduate seniors and learned of their plans for their futures, including the armed forces and photography.  Afterwards, we toured La Academia de Estrellas’s beautiful new facility on Keist Road.

In Fort Worth, we toured High Point Academy, a charter we worked closely with during their application and planning phase. Walking the grounds with Lori and Katie was so inspiring: to see their vision come to life was an affirmation that charter leaders have unwavering grit and make dreams come true for so many families (and educators!). Our next stop at Texas School of the Arts was just like stepping into a museum – but more fun! Children’s art is displayed around the campus, 3rd graders gave us chills during their choir class, and watching Kindergarteners work on their splits was simply adorable.

We sat down with Craig Sims, the Superintendent of Arlington Classics Academy to discuss the Performance Framework and learn about the good work the school is doing for nearly 1300 students in Arlington. At Universal Academy, we caught the end-of-day activities (including new bus transportation) and learned about their strong college prep curriculum and plans to expand throughout North and East Texas.

Our final stop was Imagine International in McKinney. Julia Brady, a founding member and now Assistant Superintendent, walked us through the campus and the IB curriculum. Imagine’s IB program spans from K-12 and they are getting ready to celebrate their first class of graduating seniors!

Thank you to all the leaders, students and faculty for hosting David and I last week. We came back to Austin more inspired than ever!

We know you labor day-in and day-out to create a new generation of passionate and engaged students. We know there is an always-changing to-do list before you. We know the work never ends, yet you continue to push on and support Texas charters and TCSA, for which we are both grateful and proud. TCSA is proud to represent nearly 90% of charters across the state year-to-year; we’re proud that 1,000 supporters rallied at the capital this spring; and, we’re proud that nearly 1400 charter leaders, teachers, and supporters came together in San Antonio to attend the 2015 Annual Conference. We are grateful that you choose to stand with us.

With all the hard work you’ve contributed to the charter movement this year, we want to celebrate you before we head off for the holidays.

Here’s how we want to thank you: if someone (anyone!) from your charter attended the 2015 conference and you’ve submitted your 2016 membership dues by December 15, 2015, you are eligible to win your choice of one of the following:

  • 50% off Board Training
  • One-on-one grassroots advocacy training with parents
  • 2 hours of Model Policy, Personnel Handbook or Student Code of Conduct consultation with TCSA legal staff

The raffle winner will be drawn on December 15 and announced in the Friday newsletter.

TCSA will continue to offer promotional discounts, raffles and prizes for our members throughout 2016 (celebrations shouldn’t just happen once a year, after all). Thank you again for your continued support – without you, so much would not have been possible in 2015.

We look forward to working closely in 2016!

__________________________________________________________________________

Join or renew today:

Step 1:  Login into the Quality Member Portal

Applications will be completed in the Quality Member Portal. You will need your login information to access the application. Once logged in, click the ‘Membership’ tab at the top. Please contact Erin Tholen at 512.584.8272 ext. 316 for assistance. 

Step 2: Complete the 2015 Online Membership Application

Upon submission of the online application, an invoice will be automatically generated and sent directly to the accounting contact email listed on the application.

Step 3:  Remit your membership dues to:

Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA)
700 Lavaca Street, Suite 930
Austin, TX 78701

Or, call 512.584.8272 ext. 316 and speak with Erin Tholen to pay by phone.

Thank you for your continued support toward charter schools in the great state of Texas.

The other night while I was buckling in my 4 1/2 year old son into his carseat he asked, “Dad, what do you do?” I thought for a second… what’s the best way I can respond that he can digest? And then it hit me… “I help schools, Graham.” 

When it comes down to it, at it’s simplest level, that is what the Texas Charter Schools Association does, day-in and day-out. We all wear different hats with a different set of skills and duties, but at the end of the day we all have the same purpose—to help schools.

Education is the one industry which can change so much in its wake—it has the power to end conflicts, prevent hunger, provide healthcare, house the homeless, thwart poverty… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Yet it is the one industry we seem to take for granted, not spending nearly enough resources on. There’s literally not a more sound investment for our future than in educating our youth. What they learn today will change tomorrow—for better or worse. It’s our duty to ensure what they soak in is enlightening, substantial, accurate and comprehensive. This is what public Texas charter schools do. This is what public Texas charter schools do best.

Just prior to starting at the Texas Charter Schools Association I spent almost a decade in the finance industry. I acquired plenty of investment knowledge, but it was soulless work. I felt like a hamster in a wheel of red tape. I earned my MBA toward the tail-end of my tenure there. Also my wife Jen and I welcomed our first child, the aforementioned curious Graham. Time in grad school and becoming a new father has a way of putting things in perspective—what I didn’t want to do with my life and what direction I wanted it to head suddenly came into focus. I realized I was happiest when I was helping others. So, loaded with this newfound insight, I decided my path moving forward must combine making a living with making a difference.

I spent much longer than I wanted to searching to meet this new-found goal, but was determined. After growing frustrated numerous times with dead ends, I stumbled upon the Director of Marketing role at TCSA. It was exactly what I was looking for. So I applied and flooded my peers’ inboxes whom I hoped might be able to provide a referral on my behalf. Well, my friends came through and the stars aligned. I started in April of this year and I couldn’t be happier. There’s so much to like about this job—the autonomy, the energy, the support, the camaraderie. it’s a joy to spend my days providing support to over 600 TX charter schools with over 225,000 students, all with the same purpose—to provide more innovation in education with the flexibility to adapt to individual student’s needs.

But the best part of working at TCSA—
Now when my son asks me what I do I have a simple, straightforward answer… one which he easily grasps, and I do as well: “I help schools.”

Every day TCSA works to increase our membership’s reach at all levels of government: federal, state, and local. Did you think we got to take a break at the end of a Legislative Session? Oh no! At the end of each Legislative Session is when we take a moment to assess our work and then drive forward to build upon our previous efforts.

Our membership’s participation in TCSA is vitally important at all times, but I call upon you to be equally, if not more involved during the Legislative Interim – the time in between Legislative Sessions. There is a lot going on during this time; just a few examples include:

  • In collaboration with our TCSA member schools, we begin to develop and finalize TCSA’s legislative agenda for the upcoming Legislative Session;
  • In collaboration with our TCSA member schools, we provide feedback and engage in the rule-making process with the Texas Education Agency to help guide the drafting and implementation of rules and regulations;
  • In collaboration with our TCSA member schools, we engage in grassroots advocacy efforts to strengthen and empower our member schools’ parents so that they advocate on behalf of their charter school;
  • In collaboration with our TCSA member schools, we provide testimony before the Texas State Board of Education, advocating for charter-friendly SBOE policies; and
  • In collaboration with our TCSA member schools, we visit with our elected officials and guide them through school tours so that our elected leaders can see first-hand the difference our member schools are making in the lives of our students.

As you can see, there is a common theme throughout our work…collaboration. Yours are the boots on the ground, doing the work of educating our students day in and day out.   TCSA’s efforts are not meant to operate in a vacuum – we need the input of our member schools and your collaboration to facilitate and instruct our advocacy efforts. Partner with us – join your voice to our work today to move the charter school movement in Texas forward.

Sincerely,
Veronica L. Garcia
VP of Government & Public Affairs
Texas Charter Schools Association
______________________________________________________________________________

Join or renew today:

 Step 1:  Login into the Quality Member Portal
Applications will be completed in the Quality Member Portal. You will need your login information to access the application. Please contact Erin Tholen for assistance. Once logged in, click the ‘Membership’ tab at the top.

Step 2: Complete the 2015 Online Membership Application
Upon submission of the online application, an invoice will be automatically generated and sent directly to the accounting contact email listed on the application.

Step 3:  Remit your membership dues to:
Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA)
700 Lavaca Street, Suite 930
Austin, TX 78701

Or, call 512.584.8272 ext. 316 and speak with Erin Tholen to pay by phone.
Thank you for your continued support toward charter schools in the great state of Texas.

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