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Monthly Digest with Coalition Updates, Must-Read News, and Upcoming Events

Coalition Updates

2018 DCSC Convening Highlights 
On January 18th and 19th, nearly 80 representatives from current member schools, potential member schools, as well as partner organizations joined us at our 4th Annual Convening in Denver, Colorado. Together, we engaged in conversations exploring Diversity and Cultural Competence: Fostering a More Equitable and Inclusive School Community.

We kicked off the convening with a visit at this year’s school host, DSST Public Schools. While at the DSST: Byers campus, attendees had the opportunity to engage with school leaders and teachers on topics including teacher recruitment, hiring, and retention and special education practices. Participants delved more deeply into the issues facing diverse-by-design charter schools. Our keynote speaker, David Osborne, reminded us that “there is a difference between integration and desegregation.” The creation of these types of environments hinges on choice, a key value in the charter school movement. Some examples include the choice to hire a diverse set of teachers, the choice to reach out to diverse potential student bodies, and the choice to integrate anti-bias education into learning. These choices signify the acceptance of “responsibility to foster and develop diverse-by-design charter schools” and  ensure that we help to create a charter school system that “steers families towards integration.”

As professionals dedicated to diversity, we must look beyond demographic statistics and clearly articulate what we mean by diversity, equity, and inclusion and how we will pursue and achieve these goals. During our morning and afternoon sessions, member schools and partners shared not only lessons learned and successful strategies around engaging community but also leveraging our collective knowledge and skills to address pressing challenges.  For example, member schools Brooklyn Prospect and Community Roots facilitated discussion around how to create diverse learning environments through the active involvement of teachers, students, parents, and other school staff. Member schools Atlanta Neighborhood, Blackstone Valley Prep, City Charter Schools, DSST, E.L. Haynes, and Larchmont also led thoughtful and engaging breakout sessions.

While diversity- just like education- is an ongoing struggle, our convening ended with participants having a greater sense of community to support them through this journey.

We also officially announced our School Launch Program, a new Fellowship initiative that will catalyze the launch of four new, intentionally diverse charter schools by 2020. In addition, we’ll provide aspiring leaders with an opportunity to learn more about our School Launch Program through weekend sessions of our Explore Series. Leaders selected for the Fellowship participate in a full-time, paid residency- at least 12 months long- at an exemplary member host school site and receive individualized support throughout the year. The Fellowship culminates in applying for and being awarded a new charter and in the launch of a new intentionally diverse school. Fellows and their member host school sites will be announced by June.

The Walton Family Foundation and Low Income Investment Fund generously supported our convening. The Coalition is also made possible because of our member schools- you all- and the work you do every day.  At the convening, we asked you to support the Coalition with a financial contribution to help advance our work. To date, we have raised over $60,000 towards this year’s $350,000 1:1 Walton Family Foundation matching goal. We are grateful to those of you that have pledged so far:

  • Success Academy Charter Schools
  • DSST Public Schools
  • Blackstone Valley Prep
  • International High School of New Orleans
  • Larchmont Charter School
  • City Charter Schools
  • E.L. Haynes Public Charter School
  • Brooklyn Prospect Charter School
  • Hebrew Public Charter Schools
  • City Neighbors Charter School

If you have any questions about our campaign reach out directly to Sonia at  We are asking all members to make a pledge – everything counts! THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

DEI Accelerator 
Last summer, we shared Promise54’s Unrealized Impact study on diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the education sector.  Promise54, in partnership with the Kauffman Foundation, launched the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Accelerator to enable education organizations to move farther and more intentionally on their equity journeys while building community with others who share this commitment. We are excited to be selected for this 8-month, ongoing development that brings together organizations (including other Coalition member schools!) to honestly assess where we are on this work today, engage in DEI action planning and capacity building, and make data-driven, actionable improvements around how we practice equity, diversity, and inclusion. organization. As an organization founded with diversity as its core value, we are committed to ensuring we live by these ideals.

Updates: DCSC School Launch Program
During and between her time at the DCSC convening and at the DEI Accelerator, Ashley conducted 46 outreach calls regarding DCSC’s School Launch Program. 16 calls were with external partners and 30 calls were with individuals from 15 different schools within the Coalition. Thanks to all those who provided invaluable feedback on the Program. Over the next two months we will interview and select two-four leaders for the School Launch Program Fellowship and host school sites where fellows will serve their residencies. We look forward to announcing our fellows and host school sites this spring.

Join the Conversation in the DCSC Forum

Updates from the Coalition: Where Have We Been? 
2nd Annual DC Charter Conference
(Sonia Park and Elsa Duré)
The 2nd annual DC Charter Conference, hosted by FOCUS, brought together public charter school leaders, administrators, board members, and stakeholders to dive into a broad range of topics learning from experts about issues facing DC’s public charter schools.

School Tour: Inspired Teaching Demonstration Public Charter School 
(Sonia Park and Elsa Duré)
“In a school where Black Lives Matter, we embrace uncomfortable, messy, and yet essential conversations about race. We recognize the systemic injustice of our society and we work daily to provide a school environment that is safe, inclusive, and affirming for every student, without exception.” — ITD teacher during the Black Lives Matter Week of Action in our Schools 

Thank you to new member school Inspired Teaching for welcoming DCSC staff to their school for a morning tour! We were inspired to learn about and see in action ITD’s commitment to diversity and equity.

WestEd Policy Forum on Increasing Equity Through High-Quality Charter Schools
(Elsa Duré)
National and state leaders discussed how high-quality charter schools can increase educational equity, including policy strategies such as unified enrollment systems, weighted lotteries, comprehensive transportation access, district-charter collaborations and school segregation.

Debate of the Century: One of the Biggest Threats to Education Today is School Segregation 
(Sonia Park)
Moderated by former secretary of education in the Obama administration, John B. King, Jr, Professor Sheryll Cashin of Georgetown University and Dr. Howard Fuller of Marquette University debated the question of how to prioritize the challenges of equity and opportunity in education policy. A recording of the debate is available here.

DCSC Membership
The membership committee will be reviewing new applications from schools to join the Coalition (learn more about the membership process here). If you know of a school that is diverse-by-design and aligned to our Core Values please share their contact information with Elsa at

ICYMI: Anti-Bias and Social Justice Institute
Community Roots will be hosting another three-day Anti-Bias and Social Justice Institute in May 2018. The November Institute was a huge success and allowed participants to share with and learn from other schools about school integration practices. We are thrilled to be able to open our doors again in this way.  Learn more about the Institute here and share with other schools you think would be interested and could benefit from the work.

From the Field
The Library of Congress: Summer Teacher Institutes
Held at the Library, the professional development provides K-12 educators with tools and resources to effectively integrate primary sources into classroom teaching  —  with a special emphasis on student engagement, critical thinking, and construction of knowledge. Register by March 21, 2018.

Swamped Podcast: Episode One
John B. King Jr. joined @swampEDpod for their inaugural episode to talk about the current state of education and equity in the U.S. Here, King reflects on the importance that school played in his life growing up and why he decided to become a teacher and eventually a leader at the front of the movement for educational equity. He also expresses his concern about the rolling back of civil rights protections for students by the U.S. Department of Education and calls on state and local leaders to do the right things for students, regardless of what is happening in Washington. Listen here.

NACSA: Special Education Toolkit for Charter School Authorizers
Authorizers play a critical role in the lifecycle of a charter school, from reviewing and approving applications for new charters, through ongoing oversight and monitoring practices, and ultimately the decision-making processes to determine whether or not a school has earned the right to continue serving students. This toolkit provides a framework for authorizers at each stage of the charter lifecycle and the tools to do this work.

Call For Peer Reviewers: Charter Schools Program Grant Competition
The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement, is seeking individuals to serve as peer reviewers for the Fiscal Year 2018 Charter Schools Program (CSP) Grant competitions.  Peer reviewers will independently read, score, and provide timely, well-written comments, as well as be available to discuss their scoring and comments, for the eligible grant applications submitted to the U.S. Department of Education under the CSP.

To be considered as a peer reviewer, upload your resume and enter your contact information tothe portal. The requested information must be provided by Friday, February 23, 2018 at 5:00pm Eastern Time. If you experience any difficulties accessing the link, contact


Upcoming Conferences & Events

City Garden’s 7th Annual Gala
March 3, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri 
You are invited to celebrate City Garden’s 10th Anniversary and 10-year charter renewal with music, dinner, live and silent auctions, and Fund-A-Need. Ten years ago, we planted seeds for redefining education and reimaging community. Thanks to our community’s support, those seeds now are bursting into bloom and will grow to reinvigorate our world!

March 5, 2018 to March 8, 2018 in Austin, Texas.
The SXSW EDU Conference & Festival fosters innovation in learning by hosting a community of optimistic, forward-thinking, purpose-driven stakeholders with a shared goal of impacting the future of teaching and learning. The eighth annual SXSW EDU will return to Austin, March 5-8, 2018, for four days of compelling sessions, in-depth workshops, engaging learning experiences, mentorship, film screenings, startup events, policy discussions, competitions, exhibitions, networking and so much more. Through collaboration, creativity and engagement, SXSW EDU empowers its global community to connect, discover and impact.

California Charter Conference
March 20, 2018 to March 23, 2018 in Sacramento, California
The mission of the California Charter Schools Conference (CCSA) is to inspire academic excellence, operational integrity and unity among charter schools throughout California. The annual event connects charter school experts from across the country who lead sessions on everything from balancing your budget, obtaining a new facility and creating a safe school environment to building a productive and excellent board and advocating for your school on the local, state and federal level.

Will you be at the CCSA Conference?  DCSC will host a regional meeting for our California members. More information to come!

Washington State Charter Schools Association Conference
April 27, 2018 to April 28, 2018 in Seatac, WA
As the largest Washington state charter convening of the year, the WA Charters annual conference brings together everyone currently engaged in the state’s growing sector in Washington and those seeking to learn more about innovative and excellent schools across our state. This year’s conference title is Onward: Excellence and Equity, grounding our conference offerings in the connected themes of excellent education for all students and diversity, equity, and inclusion. This event brings together national, regional, and local experts in charter public schools and provides opportunities for networking, learning, and engagement between charter school leaders, teachers, board, members, advocates, and community stakeholders. In previous years, more than 300 have gathered to learn, connect and share.

New Schools Venture Fund Summit
May 8, 2018 to May 9, 2018 in Burlingame, California
NewSchools Summit is an annual invitation-only gathering for education innovation thought leaders who bring important and diverse perspectives in PreK-12 education. Over 1,000 entrepreneurs, educators, community leaders, funders, and policy makers come together to share ideas on how we can reimagine schools so they prepare all students, from every background, to achieve their most ambitious dreams. Will you be there? Let us know and we can meet up!

National Charter Schools Conference
June 17, 2018 to June 20, 2018 in Austin, TX
The National Charter Schools Conference is the best learning and networking event for charter school educators, leaders, and advocates. This conference is about being part of a movement, learning from the best in the field, and learning from each other. Meeting peers that struggle with the same issues you do – or have solutions to offer you – is an incredible learning experience.

DCSC has submitted three session proposals, have you?  Let us know so we can promote them! 
You can vote for our proposals here. Our sessions are:

  • Choice: Diversity and Cultural Affirmation (beyond black & white)
  • Creating the Leadership Pipeline: Who, What & Why?
  • Is there a shelf-life to leadership?

Reimagining Education: Teaching and Learning in Diverse Schools
July 16, 2018 to July 19, 2018 in New York City, NY
Designed for educators, policymakers, parents, and all stakeholders in K-12 schools, the Reimagining Education Summer Institute will explore the opportunities and challenges of creating and sustaining racially, ethnically and socio-economically integrated schools. The institute will feature presentations and panels, interactive workshops, and deep dialogue sessions led by curriculum and pedagogy experts from Teachers College and around the nation. In the safe, supportive environment of the institute, you’ll connect with people from all across the country who are committed to integrated schools and classrooms. And you’ll come away with strategies, resources, and an action plan uniquely tailored to your school.

Free STEP Screening
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) is teaming up with the producers of the critically-acclaimed documentary STEP to offer FREE screenings of the film. It’s a chance to showcase how charter schools go above and beyond and shine the spotlight on local “stars”. We hope that all charter schools will join us by signing up to screen the film!

News Roundup

“Appeals Court Rules Mostly White City Can’t Form Segregated School District” by Corey Mitchell
Education Week –  February 13, 2018

“Nikole Hannah-Jones Challenges Moderate White Liberals in Her First Monday Speech” by Ramah Aleryan
Catalyst Newspaper — February 12, 2018

“The Research Is In: A Diverse Faculty Makes A Difference. Do You Care?” by Sharif El-Mekki
Philly’s 7th Ward — February 12, 2018

“When diversity backfires: How schools can lose funding as they try to integrate” by Christina Veiga
Chalkbeat — February 12, 2018

“Educators take ‘Black Lives Matter’ message into Baltimore schools” by Talia Richman
Baltimore Sun — February 8, 2018

“Want More Diverse Schools? Try School Choice.” by Shawnta Barnes
Education Post — January 24, 2018

“Whether Families Choose Diversity or Cultural Affirmation, Charters Meet Their Needs” by Sonia Park
Education Post —  January 22, 2018

“Whitmire: Why Boston’s Most Racially Diverse School Could Also Be the Country’s Most Interesting School Integration Story“ by Richard Whitmire
The 74 — January 22, 2018

“Rise & Shine: Officials hope new dual language classes will promote integration” by Alex Zimmerman
The Chalkbeat — January 18, 2018


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