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Charter School Leaders Gather for 15th Annual Conference

11.09.11
Charter School Leaders Gather for 15th Annual Conference

“THRIVE: Learn, Perform, and Shine” – 1,100 Attendees Converge in Galveston, TX

Galveston, Texas – More than 1,100 charter school administrators, teachers, board members, and vendors from across the state met this week for the 15

th annual statewide conference hosted by the Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA). The meeting from November 7-9, 2011, is one of the largest gatherings of public charter school educators. Texas charter schools enroll nearly 120,000 students at more than 460 campuses. The theme for the conference “THRIVE: Learn, Perform, and Shine” is a reflection of the success charters schools are experiencing across the state academically and financially. “Even during these difficult economic times for public schools, charters learn how to be stronger and better, we perform, and we deliver,” said TCSA Conference Chair Yvette East of Houston Heights Academy.

Conference attendees heard from national education experts including Dr. Michael Lomax, president and chief executive officer of the United Negro College Fund. Lomax currently serves on the boards of Teach For America and the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools. Dr. Calvin Mackie, the 2003 recipient of the Presidential Award for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering also delivered a keynote address. Dr. Mackey said, “What your doing here is real. Thank you for taking on America’s biggest socioeconomic problem today, public education. TCSA, thank you for being on the front lines. There is greatness in every child sitting before you on a daily basis.”

Today, the final day of the conference, attendees will hear from Simon Bailey of the Brilliance Institute and grant the 2011 Charter Champion Awards to State Senator Florence Shapiro and former Texas charter school leader Chris Barbic, founder of YES Prep in Houston. Shapiro is the current chair of the Senate Education Committee and was a steadfast supporter of charter schools during her tenure. She led the effort to pass the most significant charter school legislation in a decade this past session – providing access to the Permanent School Fund (PSF) bond guarantee for financially sound charters. The new law will save charter schools and taxpayers millions of dollars annually by allowing them to receive better financing on school construction and renovation. Shapiro will retire from the Senate in January of 2013.

Chris Barbic is recognized for building a highly successful charter school that serves 4,500 students in 6

th through 12th grade. Consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top high schools in the country, 100 percent of YES Prep’s graduating seniors have been accepted to four-year colleges for the past decade. Barbic is a founding member of TCSA and was named Superintendent of the newly formed Achievement School District (ASD) in Tennessee. ASD schools are comprised of the 5 percent lowest performing schools in the state and are the focus of a Race To the Top federal grant.

In addition to the more than 150 breakout sessions for charter teachers, administrators, and board members, TCSA launched two new member service programs – the TCSA Risk Management Program which provides insurance, and the TCSA Electricity Pool – to help schools leverage their purchasing power in regional markets. The conference also hosted 14 TCSA Quality Framework presentations, a special education legal summit, as well as a TCSA Member Council Meeting to elect the Association’s 2012 leadership.