More than 1,250 attendees, largest gathering ever for state conference
(Austin, Texas) �This week, more charter school leaders than ever before gathered in Austin, Tex., to attend the 16th annual Texas Charter Schools Conference (Dec. 3-5, 2012). This year’s conference entitled, “Leading the Way”, focused on training, team-building and networking activities as well as grassroots advocacy and legislative visits at the Texas State Capitol for the 1,250-plus attendees. The 2012 Charter Champion Award was given to Nancy Grayson, Founder, Rapoport Academy (Waco).
In addition, Commissioner of Education Michael L. Williams announced the appointment of Dr. Gaye Lang as the Senior Advisor specifically focused on Charter School Turnaround from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to identify and assist struggling charter schools in Texas so as to prevent potential disruptions in education for students and parents.
“TCSA is proud of the tremendous progress and great gains that charter schools and public charter students have made throughout Texas this past year,” said David Dunn, executive director of the Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA). “We are excited about what lies ahead and especially look forward to working with the 83rd Legislature on important charter school legislation. And we are grateful for the start of The Network partnership with TEA and Region XI.”
Commissioner Williams kicked off Tuesday’s General Session telling attendees, “We are in the business of making sure that every youngster in school across the state is prepared for the 21st century�creating opportunity and hope for the next generation of Texans. You [charter schools] do it each and every day. I will be alongside you.”
Nina Rees, President of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools addressed charter school leaders and said, “Texas knows how to grow effective charters�the innovative aspect of charters has not gotten as much attention, so our next step is to highlight successful programs and highlight innovation.”
Nancy Grayson, Founder, Rapoport Academy (Waco) and the 2012 Charter Champion exhorted attendees, “If we do not do it [educating our students] right and if we don’t fight for their opportunities to grow and learn, we lose as a society.”
Highlights of additional conference session speakers include:
– Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, Army Veteran, Author and native of Laredo, Tex.
– Tim King, Founder, Urban Prep Academies
– Rep.-elect Marsha Farney (District 20-Georgetown)
– Rep. Mark Strama (District 50-Austin)
– Rep. Paul Workman (District 47-Spicewood)
– Rep. Rafael Anchia (District 103-Dallas)
– Seth Andrew, Democracy Prep Public Schools (New York City)
– And many more.
Public charter schools are making a difference for students in Texas. In 2011, in public charter schools rated under Texas’ Standard Accountability System, higher percentages of African-American and Hispanic students passed the TAKS test in every core subject area than in traditional public schools. In the 2012-2013 school year, charter schools in Texas added 43 campuses and 30,000 students, yet, there are still more than 101,000 students on waiting lists.
TCSA is part of The Network, the Texas Charter School Technical Assistance Network, with the Texas Education Agency (TEA), and ESC Region XI, which was created to provide an extensive support system for the state’s charter schools to ensure they are prepared to provide a quality education for Texas schoolchildren.