April 25, 2014

Legislative staff took a tour of Wayside Schools in Austin last week. Pictured from left to right: Matt Abbott (CEO), Lisa Robinson (CAO), Michele Stahl (Principal, REAL Learning Academy), Jessica Herrera (Legislative Aide to Representative Eddie Rodriguez), Whitney Broughton (Education Policy Advisor, Governor Perry) and Johnnie Smith (Principal, Wayside: Eden Park Academy).
TEA logo Financial Accountability Survey
House Bill 5, 83rd Legislative Session, directs the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to develop a new financial accountability system for school districts and open-enrollment charter schools. TEA is currently in the process of evaluating potential financial accountability indicators to measure the financial stability and solvency of school districts and open-enrollment charter schools. The TEA is asking you for your input on how to determine whether a school district or open-enrollment charter school is financially stable and solvent. Thank you in advance for participating. Please submit your input by May 18, 2014. Take the survey.

Pre-sale Registration Opens April 15, 2014 -- Save $100 per Person 

The Texas Charter Schools Conference will be held at the Westin Galleria in Houston on December 10-12, 2014.

The pre-sale rates, available from April 15 to May 14, are the only discounted rates offered in 2014. Register your team early to save $100 off the regular rate on each registration. In addition, charter schools that calendar a Professional Development Day for their teaching staff can take advantage of our special $100 rate for each Teacher One-Day Pass to attend the workshop on Friday, December 12.* See the draft schedule.
register now  
charter news
National Rankings Best High Schools
The U.S. News rankings include data on more than 19,400 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia.The rankings were determined through a three-step process that considered state proficiency test results and how well they prepare students for college.

Congratulations to TCSA member charters for top ratings among Texas public high schools:
YES Prep Public Schools -- North Central (#4, #28 nationally), East End (#11), Southeast (#13), Southwest (#15)
IDEA Public Schools -- Donna (#5, #30 nationally), Quest (#17), Frontier (#34)
KIPP Austin Collegiate (#9)
Harmony Science Academies -- El Paso (#22), Ft. Worth (#34), Pflugerville (#35), Dallas (#36), Houston (#42), San Antonio (#103)
Uplift Education -- North Hills Prep (#27), Peak Preparatory (#29), Williams Preparatory (#33)
NYOS (#44)
School of Science and Technology (#46)
Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts (#81)

Brownsville Herald Two Brownsville schools make top performance list
TRAVIS M. WHITEHEAD; April 23, 2014
U.S. News & World Report rated three IDEA public schools, three South Texas Independent School District schools and Brownsville's Early College High School in the top 30 from 357 schools in Texas. Read the article.

Charter Schools Dominate "Most Challenging" List
April 21, 2014
The Washington Post puts out it's annual list of "most challenging high schools" -- seven from Houston are in the top 100, and all of them are charter schools. [only 3 of the seven are open-enrollment]  Read the article.

 Washington Post
America's Most Challenging High Schools
America's Most Challenging High Schools ranks schools through an index formula that's a simple ratio: the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year, divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year. A ratio of 1.000 means the school had as many tests as graduates.
Congratulations to TCSA member charters who were rated in the top 100 campuses nationwide:
Uplift Education -- North Hills Preparatory (#2), Summit Preparatory (#16), Williams Preparatory (#29)
Harmony Science Academies -- Pflugerville (#25), Brownsville (#30), Waco (#42), Houston (#51)
Westlake Academy (#36)
Yes Prep Public Schools -- North Central (#57), East End (#74)
Harmony School of Innovation, Fort Worth (#59)

Reform School 4/17/14: David Dunn
David Dunn, Executive Director of the Texas Charter Schools Association, joins us on this edition of #ReformSchool.
Watch the podcast.

Let public charter schools succeed
Neerav Kingsland and Richard Whitmire; April 17, 2014
The message of the pushback movement, which is partly fueled by turf-jealous school boards and administrators, is this: Our schools should be the only schools. Charter schools - despite being public schools - should be banned. Read the opinion.

Celebrate in Your Community May 4-10, 2014
Every year, National Charter Schools Week gives us an opportunity to raise awareness about our schools and movement. Whether it's highlighting the growth of our community, the amazing academic successes of our students, or the strong parental demand for more schools, we have a lot to share. To help, we have designed a toolkit you can use as a resource. Here's how you can get started:
  • Gather students, parents, teachers, and school leaders for a visit or rally at the state capitol to raise awareness.
  • Host a roundtable at your school for elected officials with parents, teachers, students, and school leaders.
  • Invite elected officials to visit charter schools in their area.
  • Ask the governor for a charter schools week proclamation.
  • Encourage your database and contacts to send letters to their representatives urging their continued support for charter schools.
  • Write an op-ed or letter to the editor on the forthcoming wait list numbers in your state or at your school.
  • Write and distribute a press release on the national wait list numbers (coming out during Charter Schools Week!) and the numbers in your state.
  • Promote your school, or charter schools in your state, on social media using the hashtag #CharterSchoolsWeek and using the toolkit, including the "I Stand With Charter Schools" badge.

Save the Date for Charter Summer Summit! 
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.  More information. 

Registration is $50 and includes a luncheon. REGISTER
Questions? Contact:  Melodie Wahlert. 
The Texas Charter Schools Association Charter School Business Officer Certification (CSBOC) program takes the diverse, complex and ever changing responsibilities of a Charter Business Officer and creates an environment where you learn the responsibilities, competencies and strategic vision to ensure your charter school is viable, stable, fiscally sound and has a foundation of continuous improvement and growth. The certification program is a combination of online courses, live training days, and documentation workshop days. All training classes are open to everyone and fulfill required credit hours. Trainings also count toward the program if you choose to pursue certification.   


Don't Miss Out on the 2013-2014 TCSA Training Series in the Rio Grande Valley, (Edinburg); April 28-30
Ignite Public Schools
4701 S. Sugar Road, Se. D
, Edinburg  78539
For your convenience, discounted rates at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Pharr have been arranged for training attendees. RESERVE A ROOM.   

Successful Leadership of Instructional Programs for Charter Schools, April 28, 2014; RGV 
(6 Commissioner Hrs.: (3) School Law, (3) Accountability to the Public)
$125 TCSA 2014 Member; $195 Non-member

Confirmed Faculty: Veronica Garcia, Maxine Longoria-Nash, and Eric Rodriguez (Walsh Anderson); TCSA Staff and Tenured Charter Operators

register now 
This session will equip charter school leaders and board members to design and implement curricula and strategic plans that enhance teaching and learning in direct alignment with a school's charter contract. The proper leadership culture at your charter school over instructional programs will promote the success of all students by advocating, nurturing, and sustaining a charter school district culture and instructional program conducive to student learning and staff professional growth.


Training Sponsored by: 

Employment Law and Payroll Requirements for Charter Schools, April 29, 2014; RGV
(6 Commissioner Hrs.: (2) School Law, (2) School Finance, (2) Accountability for Public Funds)
$125 TCSA 2014 Member; $195 Non-member
Confirmed Faculty:
Joe Hoffer and Rick Lopez (Schulman Lopez Hoffer); Mark Chi and Jennifer Clark (TRS, Benefit Counseling Department) 


register now    
This session will equip charter school business and finance staff to proactively review the soundness of their current employee policies and procedures, including their payroll practices, to ensure compliance with state and federal requirements for charter schools. We will cover hot topic areas that have previously been a source for litigation and audit findings for charter schools and develop solutions to reduce the risk of those events in your school.

TRS representatives will discuss various reporting topics including:
  • Membership Eligibility Rules - who should and should not be reported to TRS
  • Compensation - what is creditable and non-creditable
  • Employment After Retirement - employment rules for retirees
  • Surcharges due from Employers - when the employer is required to pay surcharges for work done by a retiree
  • Reporting Requirements and Employer Contributions - Regular Payroll report, New Member report, Federal Funds reports.
Training Series Sponsored by: 

Instructional Coaching and Leadership to Improve Student Achievement, April 30, 2014; RGV 

(6 Commissioner Hrs.: (3) School Law, (3) Accountability to the Public)
$225 TCSA 2014 Member; $375 Non-member 
Confirmed Faculty:
Kyle Seipp, Institute for Public School Initiatives, University of Texas at Austin 
This session will equip charter school officers, administrators, and teachers to implement principles of instructional coaching to facilitate and guide a school-based professional learning program for groups of teachers in specific content areas. These groups focus on the intersection of school and student needs and district reform initiatives with the goal of building a professional learning community that supports collective leadership, continuous improvement of teaching practice, and, ultimately, improved student learning. Read the Agenda.

register now
Attention vendor members! Sponsorship still available! Interested in connecting directly with charter school Superintendents, Chief Academic Officers, Principals, and Teachers?
Contact:  Erin Tholen at ph. 512.584.8272 ext.316 
Texas Interscholastic League Foundation Scholarship 
The 2014 TILF scholarship application is now open. All application items must be submitted by  May 30, 2014. Due to the late competition date of the Texas State Solo and Ensemble Contest (TSSEC), applicants competing in that contest must have all materials submitted by June 20, 2014.  Read the eligibility requirements. 

Book Festival
13th Annual Youth Fiction Writing Contest -- Texas Book Festival 
This year marks the 13th annual Fiction Writing Contest. The theme for this year is "The People Our Parents Warned Us About." The Fiction Writing Contest encourages and rewards creative writing in Texas schools. Junior and high school Texas students are invited to submit a piece of original fiction, no more than 2,000 words in length. The submissions are judged by Texas Book Festival authors, local educators, and leaders in the publishing industry. Each year the Festival provides a unique theme. Judges look for excellence in use of dialogue, character development, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution. Submitted entries are considered in three divisions: grades 7-8; grades 9-10; and grades 11-12. Deadline: June 2, 2014

Aggie STEM Teacher Professional Development Opportunity 
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) awarded Texas A&M University $256,000 to improve instruction in Texas middle school mathematics and algebra classrooms. The grant funds 110 hours of professional development over the course of one year for teachers who qualify to participate in the program.  More information.  

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: 691112                 Application Deadline: Posted until Filled
Posted: April 8, 2014       Starting Date: Immediately

Job Description: The TCSA Conference Planner will be responsible for coordinating TCSA's annual conference as their primary role within the Association. In addition, during off-peak conference planning, the individual will assist the Quality Services Team with membership, training, quality initiatives and revenue generation.

TEA logo

Honor Graduate Certificate 2014

2013 Snapshot: School District Profiles now available on the TEA website

PSF is here! First Steps Toward Facilities Help for Texas Public Charter Schools
PSF Application