February 28, 2014

Last week, elementary students from  St. Anthony School Charter School in Dallas donated school supplies to  Winfree Academy Charter Schools in Richardson. The students were completing their service learning project, which is a lesson used to teach students about how serving others can have a major impact on their community. Read the blog. 
Growing interest in charter schools as an alternative to traditional public education
Community Impact Newspaper
by Tamra Santana; February 26, 2014
... Charter schools receive state funding but do not benefit from local tax revenue or facilities funding, like traditional public schools do, Dunn said. Consequently, charter schools receive $1,500 less per year per student on average than traditional public schools, he said. Many charter schools seek a variety of grants and raise private funds to supplement their budgets or to pay for additional supplies and buildings. Many charters simply do without extras such as gyms or science labs and have minimal libraries, Dunn said. That funding disparity is at the center of a lawsuit, currently in progress by The Texas Charter Schools Association against the state. Read the article.  Watch the video of TCSA's Closing Arguments.

charter news
TEA logo
25 Texas schools nominated for 2014 national Blue Ribbon honors
Congratulations to KIPP Inc. Charter -- KIPP Houston High School and KIPP Inc. Charter -- KIPP Sharp College Prep (Houston) -- two of 25 Texas schools nominated for 2014 national Blue Ribbon honors. The Texas Education Agency announced last Friday, the nomination of 25 Texas public schools. All schools that have been nominated for the 2014 honor were selected as exemplary high performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests. Each school has an economically disadvantaged population of 40 percent or greater. Founded in 1982, Blue Ribbon Schools is a U.S. Department of Education program that recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students perform at very high levels. Read the press release.

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Two Texas public charter schools receive early college high school designation
TEA announced Monday, including New Frontiers-San Antonio and iSchool High-Woodlands
(Austin, Tex.) In Case You Missed It:  This week, then Texas Education Agency announced early college high school (ECHS) designations, including two public charter schools, New Frontiers Charter School and iSchool High at the Woodlands. The two designated campuses are in San Antonio, the Senator Frank Madla Early College High School (New Frontiers Charter partnered with Palo Alto College, Alamo Colleges system) and in the Houston-area, iSchool High at The Woodlands (Texas College Preparatory Academies partnered with Lone Star College).
Read the press release.
Read TEA's Press Release

Washington Post
D.C. charter board adopts new way to judge alternative schools
By Emma Brown; February 23, 2014
Evaluating such schools has bedeviled charter school authorities across the country because of the tension between acknowledging the difficulty in serving students with such profound challenges and making excuses for schools' poor performance. 
"You have to have a way to distinguish between schools that are doing a good job and turning kids' lives around and those that are just collecting public monies," said Nelson Smith, a charter expert who headed a national working group tasked with studying how alternative charter schools can and should be judged. Many states haven't come up with a way to define and fairly evaluate alternative charters, Smith said. He said that puts charter authorizers -- entities such as the D.C. charter board
that approve new charters and close under-performing ones -- in a difficult position.

FREE Webinar: So You're a Priority School, Now What?
Under the Texas Education Waiver granted by the US Department of Education, several schools within your district may be designated as Focus or Priority Schools. These schools will be able to apply for and receive funding to help implement the seven critical factors of transformation. This webinar will discuss the next steps as well as services that TCSA will make available via an exciting new partnership to implement required improvements and meet TEA expectations. For more information about the identified focus and priority schools and the available funding, refer to the following TEA news release.
 View the complete list of 2013-14 Priority and Focus schools.

Brienza's Academic Advantage (BAA) is an academic solutions company with decades of experience in partnering with School Districts in several states. Because of BAA's experience with the seven critical factors of transformation and the seven turn around principles, we would like to offer our services to Charter Schools that currently have schools in the Priority or Focus category. This service will be offered without charge, with the belief that it will provide the foundation for a lasting partnership. For more information, contact: Julie DeLucca-Collins, Executive Director of Programs, ph. 800-581-0887

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 -- second session is scheduled for Friday, March 7, 2014. For session details, including the required preregistration form, visit the TEA website.

FREE Webinar: What is the Texas Charter Parent Teacher Alliance?   
Tuesday, March 25, 2014; 10am to 11am REGISTER
OR Friday, March 28, 2014; 12pm to 1pm REGISTER
Join us for a webinar to learn more about the Texas Charter Parent Teacher Alliance  (TCPTA) and how it can help your school! Phase 2 of this statewide grassroots network pilot is launching and we want you on board. 2014 is the year we will build an army of support to advance the cause of public charter schools.  
What is the Texas Charter Parent Teacher Alliance? 
The Texas Charter Schools Association is working with member schools to build a durable, sustainable campus based network of parents and supporters throughout Texas. For schools with active parent organizations it could become an extension of your existing group. Some schools are creating new TCPTAs as stand-alone organizations. Our mission is to build and mobilize a network of 6,000 parents and supporters in support of public charter schools. The Texas Legislature will return to the state Capitol in less than a year, and we need to be ready when they do. 

US Congressman Bill Flores kicking off the STEM Festival
Harmony Science Academy, Pflugerville
March 1
, 2014; 10am - 1pm

The STEM Festival is a super fun, interactive and educational fair for people of all ages. The students run the show, which includes science and math demonstrations, music and art performances and English and social studies presentations. It's an open house that showcases Harmony's curriculum and use of project-based learning as well as a chance for the students to tout their own impressive accomplishments.  

FREE Lunch and Learn Information Session:
Harnessing Student Perception Data To Accelerate School Improvement and Teacher Development
TCSA Offices, Austin; March 6, 2014 
Student perceptions are linked to their academic outcomes, so it's smart to know what your students are experiencing in your schools and classrooms.  
This Lunch and Learn session will explore:  
  • Why student perceptions matter in driving school and teacher performance
  • Key elements to get the greatest value from student surveys
  • YouthTruth's resources for Texas Charter schools, including: validated survey instruments, rapid turnaround of results, online interactive reporting platform, follow-up advisory services

register now  

Explore UTExplore 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. See the full list and descriptions of activities.
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. 

The Network is sponsoring a state-wide Summit June 16-17, 2014, "Charting the Course."   This 1-1/2 day event features keynote speaker Mark McLeod and more than 45 breakout sessions on the standards of Operations, Finance, Governance, and Education. Charter school experts from the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Charter School Association and Education Service Centers, as well as leaders of charters in Texas will provide timely and valuable professional development.

Registration is $50
and is now open
and includes a luncheon. REGISTER

For more information, please contact  
Melodie Wahlert. 
Financial Aid Saturdays, Central Texas 
The Financial Aid Saturdays Program provides FREE assistance to Central Texas high school seniors, prospective/current college students, and parents/guardians needing help to complete federal and state financial aid applications to fund college enrollment. The program is a key element of the Chamber's regional matriculation effort aiming to increase direct-to-college enrollment from 61 percent in 2010 to 70 percent by 2015 to ensure our region is able to meet future talent demands. REGISTER 

House Student APP Challenge 
Established by Members of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013, this competition is a nationwide event that allows high school students from across the country to compete by creating and exhibiting their software application, or "app," for mobile, tablet, or computer devices on a platform of their choice. Throughout the completion period, participating students will be provided opportunities to engage with various STEM educational partners located within the community to mentor and assist them with their app development. The "House App Challenge" is open to all high school students in participating districts. DEADLINE: April 30, 2014

Help Us Thank A Million Teachers and Give A Million Dollars to Teachers
Farmers Insurance is giving away $2,500 grants to America's teachers and you can help!
Take this opportunity to say "Thank You" to an educator that's made a difference in your life and your community.   
Thank a teacher now. 
job post of the week
Texas Charter Schools Association
Austin, Texas

Job ID:  608182                    Application Deadline: Posted until Filled  
Posted: February 4, 2014     Starting Date: August 5, 2014

Job Description: The TCSA Contract Trainer is responsible for the delivery of customized training for charter school clients in Texas. The position involves presenting pro-active customized training solutions, which address charter school needs along with improving the leadership and staff within charter organizations. The result is improved school operations and student success.

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House Bill 5 Resources from Region 4  

Read the letter. 


NCLB Highly Qualified Teachers -- 6th Grade Teachers
Read the letter.

New SC5010 for All Charters, State Schools
Deadline: 4/7/14 
Read the letter.
2013-2014 Data Validation Monitoring
Deadline: 4/9/2014
Read the letter.