Vol. 17, No. 25
Special Charter Schools Conference Edition
Team @edreform is on the ground at the National Charter Schools Conference in New Orleans, where school leaders, educators, parents, and activists are discussing how charter schools can provide a “Chance For Every Child,” the theme of this year’s gathering. A fitting one too, given the fact that New Orleans, post-Katrina, is now 100 percent public charter schools.
Pass rates for minority and low-income students have doubled since charter schools became the norm in New Orleans, and graduation rates have gone from 55 to 75 percent.
But it shouldn’t take a hurricane for our school system to change so that more parents have the power to choose an education that best fits their children’s needs. Although charter schools have grown at a steady, linear pace, it’s vital we continue conversations that help us understand what it takes to accelerate that pace, and accelerate it quickly, in order for charter schools to play an even bigger role in meeting the demand that exists for more excellent education options.
Here are a few highlights so far from the 2015 National Charter Schools Conference:
Nina Rees, president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, calls on charter schools to #LeaveNoSeatBehind by backfilling and enrolling students at all grade levels, as there are over 1 million kids on charter school waitlists across the country.
“Charter school reforms in New Orleans have worked. End of story.” – Louisiana State Superintendent of Education John White, challenging the rhetoric that still exists in many media reports on charter schools today. “Charter schools are at the heart of rebirth and creating a chance for every child.”
“There are kids out there like me who need you, and they too can go to Harvard or whatever school will rock their world” -Actress Ashley Judd, speaking about the power of education in her life.
Edreform pioneer Deborah McGriff, accepting her induction into the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ Hall of Fame, emphasizes that we must empower parents and community leaders, and continue to fight for bolder changes for our kids.
Charter schools should focus on responsibility before accountability, because then accountability takes care of itself, notes Jim Goenner, President and CEO of National Charter Schools Institute and CER Board Member during his session, Authorizers: Change Agents, Market Makers, and Forces of Quality.