January 31, 2014

Margaret Rodriguez from AAMA-Sanchez, Jennifer Goodman from Odyssey Academy, Yvette East from Houston Heights Learning Academy, Donna Bahorich SBOE District 6 Member, and Lathan Watts from ResponsiveEd celebrate the kickoff of National School Choice Week together at Minute Maid Park in Houston last Saturday evening.  View TCSA's School Choice Week Album. 


Thousands rally for school choice in Houston

By Anita Hassan; January 25, 2014

Party lines intersected at Minute Maid Park Saturday as two top Texas politicians came together to promote school choice. Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee shared a stage during a rally to kickoff National School Choice Week, an awareness campaign slated to include roughly 5,550 events around the country. "We've got people from the entire political spectrum here," KIPP charter school co-founder Mike Feinberg told the cheering crowd. "Last time I checked there were no Republican children or Democratic children, just children who want a great education." Read the Article.    

View the photo album. 

Texas School Choice Week will feature 460 events throughout the state

AUSTIN -- This week is School Choice Week in Texas and across the country. More than 460 events are planned across the Lone Star State, in addition to 5,500 events nationwide.  Governor Rick Perry  recently proclaimed Jan. 26 -- Feb. 1 as "Texas School Choice Week." The Week, which is the nation's largest-ever celebration of educational opportunity, gives students, parents, and teachers in Texas a chance to raise awareness of the different types of educational options available to families in advance of the 2014-2015 school year.  
Read the press release.

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Why one school-choice group is praising Austin as a national benchmark
By Benjamin Wermund; January 28, 2014

When it comes to school choice, Austin is a smorgasbord, says a group doing a U.S. tour to mark National School Choice week. The group stopped in Austin on Monday and touted the district as a national benchmark for choice-oriented policies, as well as high-performing magnet and public charter schools.  Read the article. 

San Antonians rally for school choices

By Maria Luisa Cesar; January 27, 2014

SAN ANTONIO - School choice proponents gathered at Sunset Station to greet a national tour of cities Monday morning designed to energize supporters, applaud recent efforts to bring high-performing charter schools to the city and celebrate "local heroes" who have helped push the group's agenda. Read the article.


School Choice Should Be a Fundamental Right 

By Nina Rees ; January 28,2014
This week marks the annual National School Choice Week, which highlights the importance of giving parents the freedom to choose where to enroll their children in school. Across America, 5,500 events will showcase school choice and its connection to better outcomes for students. Read the opinion.

School Choice Night at the Mavericks Game SOLD OUT! 
Friday, January 31 at 7:30PM
American Airlines Center
TCSA will be celebrating School Choice Week at a Dallas Mavericks game on Friday. We had such a great response - that all the tickets are SOLD OUT. We look forward to seeing students/parents and teachers from Uplift Education, Harmony Public Schools Dallas School of Business, and Founders Classical Academy of Lewisville.
Final SBOE vote on PSF Facilities Relief for Public Charter Schools
Tracy Young, TCSA VP for Public and Government Affairs and Janet Robertson, Haynes and Boone, testified before the Texas State Board of Education School Finance and PSF Committee on Thursday, January 30, 2014, as the committee discussed changes to the final PSF rules for charters. Final rules for the Permanent School Fund bond guarantee for public charters were passed on Thursday by the Committee and on Friday by the full Board. The State Board of Education members requested a 2/3 vote so that the Texas Education Agency could quickly move forward with a Commissioner rule in February, allowing for applications in March 2014 and first awards to eligible charters in April 2014. The PSF bond guarantee, signed into law in 2011 for new bonds and 2013 for refinanced bonds, allows immense savings for eligible charter schools by reducing the cost of bond financing through improved investment grade ratings thereby potentially saving millions of dollars over the life of a charter school construction or renovation project.

New Rankings Report Recommends a Focus on Funding and Facilities for Charters  

"Texas was an early adopter of public charter schools, and we were pleased with the updates made to the charter law last legislative session," said David Dunn, executive director of the Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA). "TCSA worked to pass last year's legislation to ensure more quality charters are serving Texas students. While we are pleased with the progress, there is still more work to do on needed facilities funding for charter students." 
Read the press release.
Read the NAPCS State Rankings 2014

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MembershipTODAY: Last Day to Submit Dues, Late Fees in Effect Saturday, Feb. 1  

Charter leaders have been receiving emails since November prompting them to apply or renew their charter's membership with TCSA by completing an application within the Quality Framework Portal. TODAY is the last day to submit a completed application and payment without incurring a late fee. Checks can be dropped off in person at TCSA's office until 5pm, TODAY, Friday, January 31, 2014. 700 Lavaca ST. Suite 930, Austin, Texas.  Questions? Contact Erin Tholen, TCSA Member Services Associate 

2013 Certificates of Training Completion In Process

The Training Certificates for the 2013 Texas Charter Schools Conference held last December in Fort Worth are currently being processed. TCSA is distributing certificates via email as they are completed. Please be patient as there were over 1200 attendees receiving credit and we are working as fast as we can to ensure that all charter administrators, teachers and board members are awarded the appropriate required hours of training for their efforts. We will update our progress in this newsletter and let you know when all certificates have been distributed. If at that time, you have not received your certificate and you think that you are eligible for credit hours, you may then contact our offices for more information about your specific situation. Again, thank you for your patience.

East Austin College Prep's Digital Learning Day, February 5
Please join East Austin College Prep for a high-tech OPEN HOUSE on February 5 from 9-11 am. East Austin College Prep will open our Globaloria classrooms to showcase student-designed Globaloria games while teachers give you a personal tour through the innovative digital learning program. More information.

East Austin College Prep's Parent Reading Workshop  
Description: Parents will learn ways to support literacy and language learning for children ages 0 to 4. Topics include: Talking With Your Child, Literacy in Everyday Activities, Playing with Language, and Fun With Letters and Sounds.  Snacks and free childcare will be provided. 
When:  Tuesdays from 8:30 am to 10:00 am: February 4, February 11, February 18 
Where:  East Austin College Prep (Library), 6002 Jain Lane, Austin, TX 78721 
Cost: Free to attend, and free childcare available! 
Contact: Isabel Hovey, 512-605-8982 or Meagon Fiengo, 214-704-5099

29th Annual Texas Alliance of Black School Educators Conference 
Gaylord Texan Resort, Grapevine, Texas 
Feb 6-9, 2014 
The Texas Alliance of Black School Educators (TABSE) is an affiliate of the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE). TABSE is committed to improving the educational achievement of African-American students by increasing the participation and expansion of Texas affiliates. TABSE further believes in identifying and promoting those activities, which are designed to sensitize the public-at-large and educators, specifically to the needs of African-American students in academic and non-academic areas of development. More information.
Explore UT
Explore UT - FREE 
March 1, 2014; 11am-5pm 
Explore UT offers more than 400 hands-on learning activities, lectures, films, music performances, crafts, science experiments and demonstrations, and exhibits. You can also tour residence halls, labs, and libraries and see world-famous libraries and museums on campus. To see the full list and descriptions of activities, click on Schedule on the home page of the Explore UT website or go directly here.
Bus registration begins
Register your school's buses for Explore UT. We will continue accepting registrations through the end of February.Be among the first 100 buses to register, and the University will provide a $25 incentive to help defray your bus expenses. 
Make Plans for Lunch 
You can also buy lunch tickets, if you choose, for dining at Jester Center Second Floor or Kinsolving Residence Hall. Click on Group Lunch or directly and fill out the lunch form here. The Explore UT lunch price is $5.75 a person. Ticket selling will end when capacity is reached or by Feb. 18. Of course, you may bring sack lunches or buy food from campus vendors, if you like. 

The SXSWedu Education Expo

Tuesday, March 4, 2014; 2:00pm - 8:00pm 

SXSWedu is pleased to present the SXSWedu Education Expo - a FREE and open to the public event celebrating the Central Texas community's hunger and passion for lifelong learning, from cradle to career and beyond. More information.  

TCSA Training Series to Continue  
February 19-21 in San Antonio
Anne Frank Inspire Academy
11216 Bandera Road

San Antonio, Texas 78249

The Anne Frank Inspire Academy will open this fall. The construction of the school campus is nearing completion, and tours will be set up in February. The John H. Wood, Jr. Public Charter District remains committed and passionate about opening our middle school and creating a school that offers a 21st century education, including an integrated academic curriculum, intimate learning studios, outdoor learning spaces, and seamless technology.

Governance & Operations Series: Mobilizing Community Support and Resources for Your Charter School
February 19, 2014; San Antonio
(6 Commissioner Hrs.: (3) School Law, (3) Accountability to the Public) $125 TCSA 2014 Member; $195 Non-member
Confirmed Faculty: Veronica Garcia (Walsh Anderson); Peggy Tripp and Brian Cowsert (United States Postal Service); Robby McGowen, Ph.D.  (Region 4 Education Service Center); TCSA Staff and Tenured Charter Operators
register now  
This session will equip charter school leaders and board members to develop and implement an effective and comprehensive charter school district internal and external communications plan and public relations program that tells your unique story. Charter school leaders will share the most common barriers to implementing their stakeholder outreach programs and develop solutions that improve a school's ability to stay accountable to the public and drive student performance along the top charter goals.

At this training, you will also be introduced to a new marketing strategy called Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) from the USPS. You will learn how to use this FREE online marketing tool to enhance your advertising efforts. Topics covered in this session include: how to get started, cost, design, size and creative review. We will also cover target marketing using demographics, using QR Codes to integrate with email / social media, and how to improve your response rate.

Training Sponsored by:

Business Office & Finance Series:
Purchasing & Grants Management Requirements for Charter Schools
February 20, 2014; San Antonio 
(6 Commissioner Hrs.: (2) School Law, (3) School Finance, (1) Accountability for Public Funds)
$125 TCSA 2014 Member; $195 Non-member
Confirmed Faculty: Paul King (TCSA Consultant), Joe Hoffer and Ramon Medina (Schulman Lopez Hoffer); 
register now    
This session will equip charter school business and finance staff to understand the specific requirements that apply to Texas charter schools related to purchasing with state and federal funds, as well as the necessary systems a school should have in place in order to properly manage all grant funds and minimize disallowed costs. We will cover how to properly account for all of the expenditure of state and federal funds to ensure your charter school remains in compliance while driving the allocation of resources to best meet your district plans and objectives.

Training Series Sponsored by: 

Academics & Instruction Series:
Evaluating Student Performance through Data-Driven Instruction
February 21, 2014; San Antonio 
(6 Commissioner Hrs.: (3) School Law, (3) Accountability to the Public)
$225 TCSA 2014 Member; $375 Non-member
Faculty: Dr. Daryl Michel (Institute for Public School Initiatives) 
register now     
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but in education, information speaks volumes. Data analysis can provide a snapshot of what students know, what they should know, and what can be done to meet their academic needs. With appropriate analysis and interpretation of data, educators can make informed decisions that positively affect student outcomes. This session will equip charter school officers, administrators, and teachers to formulate specific and coherent evidence-based recommendations that create the organizational conditions necessary to make decisions using student achievement data in classrooms, schools, and districts.   

TEA logo Generation 19 Charter Request for Application (RFA) Now Available
The Nineteenth Generation Open-Enrollment Charter Guidelines and Request for Application (RFA) is now available to the public. Applications for charter in response to the Nineteenth Generation RFA must be received on or before Thursday, March 27, 2014. Additional information pertaining to the completion and submission process will be available within the contents of the RFA. Additionally, the RFA states a requirement that one or more of the sponsoring entities board members attend one of the two Applicant Information Sessions scheduled on Friday, February 7, 2014 and Friday, March 7, 2014. For session details, including the required preregistration form, visit the TEA website. 
tcsa 150 Charter Application Review Services for Generation 19 Charter Application - EXTENDED TCSA Deadlines
2nd drafts of critical areas due to TCSA by March 12, 2014  
  • Description: Have TCSA's team of charter school professionals review your independently drafted application for completeness, accuracy, and competitiveness, guiding you to make critical revisions and improvements needed to ensure the best application. (Service fees apply)
  • Written intent to enroll in services due to TCSA by February 3, 2014 - email Art Serna to indicate interest. By this date, you must have completed the online application.  
  • Complete initial draft of Generation 19 application due to TCSA by February 17, 2014
  • Feedback sessions will be scheduled with teams the week of March 3 -7, 2014
charter news

Expert: Property-wealthy school districts skirting state law
By Joshua Fechter; January 30, 2014
Pierce said it doesn't make sense not to include districts that receive state funding from a study examining inequities within the state funding system. "You would not exclude those districts that are the greatest indicator of inequity," Pierce said. Pierce will continue his testimony Monday. Two witnesses testifying on behalf of charter schools are also expected to testify. Read the article.

Funding gap cited at school finance trial
Associated Press; January 27, 201
AUSTIN - A big boost in state money hasn't closed the nearly $1,300 gap in per-student funding between Texas school districts in rich and poor areas, an expert said Monday at the state's sweeping school finance trial. Read the article.
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School finance suit will take time 

January 25, 2014 
Texas has a poor record of defending its public school finance system against lawsuits brought by the school districts and students it is supposed to serve. 

By that record, you'd have to say that, eventually, the suit brought by more than 600 districts and other parties and undergoing a new round of hearings before an Austin judge will go to the state Supreme Court and, eventually, bring the same dismal result: another mandate for the Legislature to fix what's wrong. Read the Editorial.  


Aldine, YES Prep win $100,000 grant to work together 

January 29, 2014

A partnership between Aldine ISD and the YES Prep charter school network has won a $100,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, officials announced Wednesday. The grant is part of the foundation's $25 million effort to spur cooperation between traditional districts and charter networks, which traditionally have been rivals. Read the article. 


Executive Communication Training
February 7-9, 2014
University of Texas at Austin
$650 per person, scholarships available 
Are you an association executive? A business leader? A community advocate? A nonprofit director? No matter your communications objective, the Annette Strauss Institute Executive Communication Training will help professionals, driven by a passion to improve their community and country, more effectively articulate their message, rise above the noise and be heard. REGISTER
2013 Executive Communication Training alumna Maegan Ellis was recently featured in an interview on FOX 7 Austin to talk about Literacy Awareness Month. On how ECT empowered her, Maegan says: "I would absolutely NOT have been able to do this without my training from the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life. I put so many of the tools I learned during the training to use here." 

Civil Rights Today Essay Contest
Deadline: Monday, February 10, 2014 
The contest is open to 12th grade Texas students attending public, private, parochial, or home schools. Students must include the name of their nominating teacher on the registration form. Complete information about the contest can be found here. 
job post of the week
Texas Charter Schools Association
Austin, Texas

Job ID:  583312                    Application Deadline: Posted until Filled  

Posted: January 10, 2014     Starting Date: Immediately

Job Description: The TCSA Quality Services Director will be responsible for the continuous enhancement of the TCSA Quality Services Portal, the engagement of our membership in all the portal has to offer, and the sharing of the portal with other appropriate partners. Success indicators include but are not limited to portal usage and feedback, quality assessment completions at the campus level, and numbers of agreements with other organizations to use our portal solution.
tcsa 150 
Member Council Meeting

Tuesday, February 18, 2014
9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Austin, TX

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Special Charter School Report of Students Enrolled and Students with Disabilities

 2013-2014 Data Validation Monitoring
Read the letter.

Notification of change: New SC5010 for all charters, state schools
Read the letter.

2012-13 School Report Cards

 Updated Travel Reimbursement Rates
Read the letter.

The Texas Education Agency is in the process of redesigning its public website. Please take a few minutes to give us some advice about improving the website.

Important Guidance Update: SHARS and IDEA-B LEA Maintenance of Effort (MOE)
Read the letter.

Clarifying Revision to Online Charter School - School FIRST Application
Read the letter.

Instructional Materials Allotment - Proclamation 2014
Read the letter.

2013 Title III Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives (AMAOs) Reports Now Available
Read the letter.