In Blog

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

Coalition Updates

DCSC Member Chat
Just one month ago another tragedy rocked out nation. On February 14th, a gunman murdered 17 students and staff at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida in one of the deadliest school shootings. From that tragedy has emerged a student-driven call for change, inspiring action across the country including today’s student walkouts. We want to know how your school community is responding and working with your students and families on this issue. Join us and other members of the Coalition on March 28th at 11:30am (CST) for a DCSC Member Chat on School Safety. We’ll discuss the impact of school shootings on our communities and share ideas on other calls to action and how to make our schools safe. RSVP to Ashley via email by March 27, 2018.

Connect with DCSC and Member Schools 
Our videoconferences are just one way we want to help build connections between members about issues that matter to you. Our goal is to build a community to learn from each other, support each other, and identify action steps to create and sustain more diverse and integrated schools. We’ve seen first hand the power of connecting colleagues in California with those across the country in New York. To that end, we’re moving our googlegroup and our website’s members-only forum to Facebook so that we can inspire more connections and keep the conversations going. We want to take advantage of an existing platform and hopefully make it easier for you to access peers without clogging your inbox. Even our very own ED Sonia joined Facebook for the first time just to share resources and connect with our community! That is commitment. Request access to the Closed Facebook Group here. Note that the group will continue to only be accessible by representatives of DCSC member schools.

We love getting the opportunity to visit our member schools and see the action firsthand. Thank you to two of our new member schools, Academy of the City and City Gardens, for opening your doors and sharing your work and approach with Sonia. Elsa and Ashley also enjoyed a tour of Montessori for All’s Magnolia campus in Austin. School Founder Sara Cotner showed us around her beautiful campus, reminiscent of a small village, while demystifying some of the fascinating core elements of the Montessori model. Elsa’s now determined on making the team some “bucket shoes” to help us work on our gross motor skills, focus, and concentration!

Finally, a big thank you to Central Queens Academy and Lee Montessori for making a pledge in support of the Coalition. They join the ten other member schools below in helping us meet our ambitious, but reachable, goal to match $350,000 from the Walton Family Foundation. We’ve reached the $100,000 milestone. Help us get to $200,000 by making a pledge!

  • 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

Where Else Have We Been? 

  • Sonia attended Campaign Management workshop by DFER featuring nationally renown political consultant and former Emily’s List director Kate Coyne-McCoy. Whether ready to run for office or looking into what it takes to manage campaigns in New York, this workshop helped participants build the skills needed to win.
  • Elsa attended the Kerner Commission at 50, a conference exploring race, segregation, and inequality 50 years after the release of the historic Kerner Commission Report.  Read the report by the Economic Policy Institute here. The conference examined the legacy, successes, and failures of the Commission, and presented sobering statistics and stories in areas that expanded housing, education, jobs, healthcare, policing, and more. The 50-year retrospective looking at the challenges of racial inequality in this country was a strong reminder of why we support and lift up schools in the Coalition. One highlight from the conference:  A call by a number of panelists including Jitu Brown, community organizer and National Director of Journey for Justice Alliance, to not tolerate racism and to stop perpetuating policies that support this country’s history of structural racism. We live with policies that enable segregation, what can we do to support the policies to disable them? We know that charter school policies are an underutilized policy lever to rethink how to structure our education systems. In the coming months we’ll be doubling down on sharing more of your stories and why diverse charter schools matter.
  • Elsa also attended SXSW Education, a conference that seeks to foster 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. Missed SXSW? Check out their videos, including Michael J Sorrell’s inspiring Keynote, WE over Me: From College to Movement.
  • We’re on Facebook! If you haven’t yet, follow us and give us a like over at our public page.

Updates from the Coalition
Save the Date: Regional Convening and School Launch Program Kickoff
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Convening and the School Launch Program Kickoff will bring together seasoned leaders, aspiring leaders, and partners for a week of learning and collaboration. School Launch Program fellows and host school site leaders will dig into the work of designing and founding the next diverse by design charter schools. Aspiring leaders will engage in the School Launch Program, Explore Series while school leaders and staff from Mid-Atlantic region member schools will have the opportunity to set the region’s policy agenda and participate in communities of practice on topics of interest like the Montessori model. Both events, the Regional Convening and the School Launch Program, are new for the Coalition and we look forward to learning and growing together.

  • When: July 24-27, 2018
  • Where: Washington, DC
  • Stay tuned for registration details

25th Annual California Charter Schools Conference
(March 26th to March 28th in San Diego, CA)

The California Charter Schools Conference is coming up in two short weeks! Six DCSC member schools are leading amazing sessions and sharing their expertise on a wide range of issues — from facilities to data to integration. Check out some of the sessions below.

DCSC will also be hosting a lunch on Tuesday, March 27th for member schools. Spots are filled, but if you’re interested in joining let Elsa know!

Summit and DCSC Panel at the WA State Charter Schools Association Conference
(April 27th 
to April 28th in Seatac, WA)
As the largest Washington state charter convening of the year, the Washington 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. DCSC’s Ashley Heard will join Summit’s Reeba Monachan in panel on Creating a “Diverse-by-Design” Charter School. Participants will explore the “how-to’s” of integration at the school level, including pitfalls and problems encountered along the way.

DCSC Joins the America Forward Coalition
The Diverse Charter Schools Coalition (DCSC) is the newest member of the America Forward Coalition, a network of more than 70 social entrepreneur organizations that champion innovative, effective, and efficient solutions to our country’s most pressing social problems.

“We are honored to join a coalition of thoughtful and innovative leaders driving social impact,” said DCSC Executive Director Sonia Park. As a member of the coalition, DCSC will share insights on issues impacting the education sector, and engage in broader conversations with fellow member organizations to help drive solutions. “We look forward to collaborating with and learning from others to advance collective action.”

The America Forward Coalition was established in 2007. Members of the America Forward Coalition are achieving measurable outcomes in more than 14,500 communities nationwide, touching the lives of 8 million Americans each year, and driving progress in education, workforce development, early learning, poverty alleviation, public health, Pay for Success, social innovation, national service, and criminal justice reform. Together its member organizations have leveraged $1.5 billion for social innovation and have driven millions of federal resources toward programs that are achieving measurable results for those who need them most. America Forward believes that our nation’s social entrepreneurs can lead the way to unlocking America’s potential and help move all of America Forward.

Learn more about America Forward and other member organizations here.

Spotlight on DSST Public Schools: School Segregation in Denver, Colorado 
A+ Colorado recently released a new report, Learn Together, Live Together: A Call to Integrate Denver’s Schools, detailing Denver Public Schools’ (DPS) continued struggle with school segregation and offering a call to action for greater urgency and solutions around integration.

Findings in Learn Together, Live Together, show that by some measures, DPS is as segregated by race and class today as it has ever been. The end of over two decades of court-ordered busing in Denver in 1995 led to the resegregation of Denver’s schools almost overnight and the trend has only gotten worse. In 2016, 26% of students enrolled in a school where more than 90% of students qualified for free or reduced price lunch, compared to just 11% in 2003. Since 2000, more than half of all Denver Latinx students have attended a school with more than 75% students of the same ethnicity.

The report presents a compelling call to make socioeconomic school integration one of Denver’s top priorities. There are examples of schools that get excellent academic outcomes for integrated student populations. The authors note DSST Public Schools, a homegrown Denver charter school network, that has, since its founding in 2004, been committed to running socioeconomically integrated middle and high schools, as an example. Read the full report here and an article highlighting DSST Stapleton campus here.

From the Field: Capital Impact Partners
Charter schools are altering the educational landscape for underserved communities, creating innovative approaches to increase academic outcomes for students. Capital Impact Partners, a nonprofit lending institution that has been financing high-quality charter schools for over 25 years, is committed to providing all students with equitable access to a high-quality education. Over the course of two decades, we have emerged as the leading Community Financial Development Institution (CDFI) delivering both the capital and commitment to support and grow strong charter schools across the country, promoting equity and inclusion to help students succeed. Deploying strategic capital, structuring complex transactions, and delivering capacitybuilding to support charter schools serving disadvantaged populations creates real change within the education system, change that is closing the achievement gap for those students who are not receiving a high-quality education simply because of where they live. Capital Impact has conducted extensive research on the “diverse by design” charter school model, and we aim to fund schools willing to rise to the challenge and create and maintain socioeconomically and racially integrated school campuses, including several schools that we have already invested in that utilize this model. For more information on our findings around the promising practices of diverse by design charter schools, view this presentation given in partnership with other thought leaders and schools focused on the success, growth, and sustainability of this model.

Prohibiting Funding for Transportation to Integrate Schools 
Sections 301 and 302
Sections 301 and 302 of S. 1771 and H.R. 3354 prohibit federal funding from being used for
transportation to further public school racial integration. Such prohibitions are vestiges of an era during which opposition to court-ordered public school racial integration raged. It is alarming that such legislative language would still be present in 2018, in an era when racial re-segregation of our public schools has surged, where a majority of members of the Supreme Court have declared school diversity to be a “compelling government interest,” and where so many districts are working voluntarily to promote racial and economic integration for the benefit of their children and communities.

Now is the time to remove outdated “anti-busing” provisions that limit the range of potential school improvement strategies available to State Educational Agencies (SEAs) and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) under Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Please help #STRIKE301and302. Tell Congress to #STRIKE301and302 from FY2018 appropriations bills. Sign the petition today!

Charter School Program: CMO Competition Updates
The US Department of Education (ED) is planning on publishing a notice late spring or early summer to get input on proposed new or revised priorities. The notice will almost certainly include proposed language to maintain or lower the threshold for low-income students served, currently set at 60%. When it’s published we encourage members to comment through the formal channels so ED has it.

After the public comment period ends, ED and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will review before finalizing them this summer. The priorities would be incorporated in the FY19 competition.  There won’t be a CMO competition in FY18 though CMOs will be able to apply for a smaller pot of funding in the Developer CSP that has been released.

On March 2, 2018, the United States Department of Education (Department) published in the Federal Register (83 FR 8974) a notice inviting applications (NIA) for grants to Charter School Developers for the Opening of New Charter Schools and for the Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools. The application deadline is April 16, 2018 at 4:30 p.m.Washington, D.C. time. More information about this grant competition, as well as additional information about future CSP competitions, can be found by contacting the Charter Schools Program team at

This notice invites applications from eligible applicants for: (1) Grants to Charter School Developers for the Opening of New Charter Schools (CFDA number 84.282B) and (2) Grants to Charter School Developers for the Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools (CFDA number 84.282E). These grants support charter schools that serve early childhood, elementary school, or secondary school students by providing grant funds to eligible applicants for the opening of new charter schools (CFDA number 84.282B) and for the replication and expansion of high-quality charter schools (CFDA number 84.282E). Under this competition, each CFDA number, 84.282B and 84.282E, constitutes its own funding category.




Upcoming Conferences & Events

National Charter Schools Week
May 7, 2018 to May 11, 2018

May 7th marks the beginning of National Charter Schools Week—a week that celebrates the students, alumni, teachers, school leaders, families, elected leaders and countless other champions who make up the charter school movement. Use the tags #diversecharters and #NCSW18 May 7-11 and share the impact your charter school is making in your community! 

New Schools Venture Fund Summit
May 8th to May 9th in Burlingame, California
Learn more here

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!

Reimagining Education: Teaching and Learning in Diverse Schools
July 16th at Columbia University in New York City, NY
Register here

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.

News Roundup

“School safety, funding, segregation: Here are the 7 issues Carranza will face in New York City” by Alex Zimmerman
Chalkbeat — March 9, 2018

“The data proves that school segregation is getting worse” by Alvin Chang
Vox — March 5, 2018

“Lowery: Giftedness Doesn’t Discriminate by Skin Color or Income Level — and Gifted Education Programs Shouldn’t Either” by Lillian M. Lowery
The 74 — February 28, 2018

“Investigate: The Relationships Between Public and Charter Schools” by Ehlayna Napolitano
Motifri — February 28, 2018

“Separate Is Still Unequal” by Angelina Quezada
Center for American Progress —  February 22, 2018

“How to tackle New York’s severe school segregation? State policymakers spitball ideas” by Monica Disare
Chalkbeat — February 15, 2018

“Diverse by Design: Charter School Integration Leads to Growing Academic Success” by Emilie Linick
Capital Impact — February 13, 2018

“A Federal Appeals Court Just Dealt a Blow to School Segregation” by Edwin Rios
Mother Jones — February 13, 2018

Policy Brief: “Charter Schools and the Achievement Gap” 
On average, charter schools perform at about the same level as traditional public schools. But an overall estimate disguises considerable variation in charter school impacts. Urban charter schools and those serving low-income and minority students, a number of which share a no excuses philosophy, tend to produce the largest gains. Expanding these highly effective charters and their practices may be a way to close achievement gaps.

Policy Brief: “States Leading for Equity:  Promising Practices Advancing the Equity Commitments”
The States Leading for Equity report highlights some examples of the promising practices in states to advance equity for each and every child in their states. This document provides a brief overview of practices and policies states are currently engaging in to provide a stronger education for students. The purpose of this document is not to advocate for one approach over another or to suggest that the work toward educational equity is complete. Rather, this document shows positive examples of state action toward each of the ten equity commitments as a milestone on this journey to share the progress states have made and recognize the difficult work remaining. Our state chiefs know that the journey towards equity is just beginning and this document marks a celebration of positive starts along that path.


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