In Blog

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

Dear Coalition members, friends, and partners,

Thanks to all who joined us in Kansas City for our Kansas City Regional Meeting!  Over 30 colleagues, partners and friends came together on October 19th.  We had the privilege to visit and learn about diverse-by-design schools in the midwest, dissect the charter policy landscape in Missouri, and explore the differences between social justice and being socially just. It was a great opportunity to bring folks together and lean in on the reasons why we do this work of diversity and equity.  There was a hunger in the room to continue the conversations we held – which makes our Annual Convening in New Orleans (Jan 31-Feb 1) a prime space and time for this to happen (look out for registration information next week!)

We’re also excited that the following new schools have joined our Coalition! We were impressed by each school’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as desire to learn from and engage with the Coalition. We are now 49 members strong, serving nearly 55,000 students across 17 states and D.C.

We look forward to seeing new and existing members in New Orleans!


Sonia C. Park

Coalition Updates

Updates from the Coalition: Where Have We Been?

Indianapolis Partner Visit

Ashley and Sonia visited Indianapolis, Indiana as guests of the Mind Trust. Sonia powered through a broken toe on the whirlwind trip that included visiting three schools, including Coalition member school, Herron High School. Hopefully, DCSC will have the chance to partner with the Mind Trust on UnifiED fellow recruitment and programming.

DSST School Visit
Ashley visited DSST Conservatory Green as part of UnifiED’s site visits. It was great to meet with our Fellow, Kristin, and host school site mentor, John. During the visit, we had the chance to observe classrooms, sit in on a leadership team meeting and connect with DSST’s leadership coach.

In NYC for Excellent Schools Visit

A key component of UnifiED’s theory of action is exposure to exemplary models, through Excellent School Visits, and it is arguably the most powerful. In early October, Fellows participated in their first Excellent School Visits, visiting five member schools across Queens and Brooklyn, New York. Fellows started at Central Queens Academy where they noted the academic rigor and student focus in classrooms. The next day, Fellows visited Success Cobble Hill, host school site Brooklyn Prospect where we checked out the work of Fellow Dana, and Community Roots where we took a deeper look into the intentionality of building a reflective schoolwide community. For more details on day two of our Excellent School Visits, check out the blog post we wrote for Success. During our last day in New York, we visited Academy of the City, where Richard Lee, school principal, offered valuable advice and insight.

Overall, our first Excellent School Visit was a success, providing valuable ideas and food for thought to Fellows preparing to launch new schools. We are grateful to the staff and school leaders of the schools we visited for sharing their time and expertise.

Kindred’s Celebration
Elsa attended Kindred’s program evaluation release event, where they shared results about how their program is inspiring parents to address inequity in their schools. Secretary John King, three parents from different Kindred schools (including member school E.L. Haynes!) and the principal of a partner school, Marie Reed, shared their experiences being a part of Kindred. Parents shared powerful perspectives and stories on the importance of not only choosing diversity but of also intentionally creating community and bridges across lines of difference.

Walton Family Foundation New York City Reception at Carnegie Hall
How do you get to Carnegie Hall?  Work, work, work!  The Walton Family Foundation’s reception for  New York grantees gave us a time to meet and mingle with Foundation representatives, including family members, and other grantees.  It was an opportunity to speak with folks who are committed to serving students and making a positive impact on education (check out the WFF Report, Rooted In Opportunity).  Grantees included the Coalition and some of our members.  Sonia spent time with Board members and member schools: Halley Potter (The Century Foundation), Dan Rubenstein (Prospect Schools), Suyin So (Central Queens Academy), and Allison Keil (Community Roots).

Understanding the Opportunity Myth
Liam Carbutt, one of DCSC’s special projects interns, attended The New Teacher Project’s (TNTP) release of their newest report on the “Opportunity Myth.”  The opportunity myth is the misconception that if a students invests deeply in school and does their best to meet academic expectations, then they will have the same opportunity at success as any other student. In reality, even if most students work hard in school and meet every expectation that is set for them, they often find themselves ill-prepared for the post-secondary paths they intend to pursue. With expectations set too low for a majority of public school students, it is no surprise that the students disproportionately affected by the opportunity gap are students of color, students who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, students with disabilities, and students in other marginalized groups.  Liam has conducted research about some of the structures that perpetuate the opportunity myth as an intern at DCSC, and attending the event helped contextualize some of his own research.

From the Field: The Perkins Act Renewed, Impact on Charter Schools
Under the current Perkins Act, the great majority of funds flow by formula from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to the states and then from the states to secondary and postsecondary entities under two separate formulas (one for secondary funds and one for postsecondary). Charter schools that are their own local educational agency have been and will continue to be, eligible to receive funds under the formula for secondary schools. States make the decision about how much of the formula money to allocate to secondary vs. post-secondary entities. The new law makes minor changes to state allocation requirements, none that significantly impact charter schools. Charter schools and authorizers are required to be consulted in the development of state plans. Read more here.

From the Field: National Alliance Receives Charter Schools Program National Activities Grant to Establish the Charter School Facilities Center
On Friday, September 28, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement awarded the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools a $2.4 million grant over three years to establish the Charter School Facilities Center (CSFC), the first-ever entity solely dedicated to helping public charter schools access better and more affordable facilities and facility financing. There are an estimated 5 million additional students that would attend a charter school if they had access to one today, but current charter school supply can’t keep pace with demand. One key reason is the lack of access to facilities. While district schools have access to many options for financing, renovation, and construction of school buildings, charter schools cannot access those financing mechanisms to get the facilities they need to open, grow, and expand.

For more information on the challenges charter schools face on facilities access and financing, visit the National Alliance website.

Upcoming Conferences & Events

January 31st to February 1st in New Orleans, LA
RSVP and more details to come next week!

Anti-Bias and Social Justice Institute
November 28th to 30th in New York City
Register here

The 3-day Anti-Bias and Social Justice Institute offers the opportunity to share in an exploration of the principles and strategies of the social justice work done at Community Roots Charter School.  The Institute will focus both on building an anti-bias lens to curricula and how to develop staff to be leaders in this work. We ask that schools send between 3-5 individuals to function as a working team during the Institute.  We have had many Coalition schools join us over the years and it has been such an honor to be able to share practice with schools who are like-minded in their mission of moving beyond desegregation towards building intentionally integrated schools.

Please reach out if you have any questions.  Spots are extremely limited so register soon if you’re interested in coming. Below are a few snippets from folks who have come to the Institute in the past, and we hope you’ll join us!  

“This experience was engaging, thought-provoking and deeply meaningful. It made me think differently about the needs of teachers in my school and provided frameworks for me to develop tools for my school context.”

“Invigorating, purposeful, and necessary. Feeling empowered to get to work.”

“The work is most necessary. Being TRAINED to do the work is also most necessary. We’re not just waking up tomorrow and rolling this out.”

National Summit on Education Reform
December 5th to 7th in Washington, DC
Register here

The National Summit on Education Reform convenes the nation’s leaders in education policy to share what works, what doesn’t and what’s next in education reform. Join our chairman, Governor Jeb Bush, as we host more than 1,000 legislators, state superintendents, policymakers and advocates. The packed two-day event will feature notable keynote speakers and in-depth strategy sessions on evolving laws, new trends, successful policies and the latest innovations that are transforming education for the 21st century. 

News Roundup

“More than half of PA public schools do not have a teacher of color” by Lijia Liu and Dale Mezzacappa
WHYY — October 30th, 2018

“We’re a middle-class black family. Here’s why we’ve skipped our local schools for now” by Saratu Ghartey
Chalkbeat — October 17th, 2018

“How Méndez vs. Westminster Helped End Segregated Schools for Latinx Children in 1940s California” by Mariana Viera
Teen Vogue — October 12, 2018

“What You Can Do in the Face of School Segregation” by Michelle Shannon
EdWeek — October 8, 2018

“Want to boost test scores and increase grad rates? One strategy: look outside schools and help low-income families” by Matt Barnum
Chalkbeat — September 26, 2018

“78207: America’s Most Radical School Integration Experiment” by Beth Hawkins
The 74 Million — September 25, 2018

“With a bold school integration plan in place, Brooklyn parents begin to sweat the details” by Christina Veiga
Chalkbeat — September 24, 2018

“Whose Side Are Asian-Americans On?” by Clio Chang
New Republic — September 24, 2018

“How Unified Enrollment Systems Solve Some Problems And Cause Other Ones” by Mike McShane
Forbes — September 19, 2018

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