What We're Doing, What We're Reading - June 21, 2016


New York's legislative session finally came to an end. Despite an expected finish on Thursday, the excitement at the capitol carried on through the wee hours of Saturday morning. Charters received a new bit of flexibility in the final deal.

The end-of-session agreement extending mayoral control in NYC included a provision that will allow charters the opportunity to apply to another authorizer for oversight and monitoring. However, the application period is limited to one-year from the effective date of the law.

That wraps up a very successful session for all of New York's charter schools. NECSN NY State Director Andrea Rogers said:

"From the victories in the state budget, to the end-of-session policy change, charter schools across the state are winners this year. Charter schools statewide received a desperately needed funding increase because leaders agreed that they should invest in schools that are working in every region.

"Flexibility is in the DNA of charter schools. The end-of-session legislation that allows the transfer of authorizer oversight is an example of this being worked into state policy."

You can read our full statement on the end of session here.


We continue to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Connecticut charter schools! Today we shared a statement featuring Commissioner of Education Dianna R. Wentzell, who said:

"Charter schools are an important part of the public school landscape in Connecticut and of the overall vision of creating equity and excellence in education. We value school choice as a way to give parents options when finding a school that meets their family’s unique needs and as a way to inspire innovation in education."

Bruce Ravage, who led Norwalk’s Side by Side Charter School from 2002-2005 before founding Park City Prep Charter School in 2006, where he is currently executive director, said:

"It has been gratifying to see bipartisan support in the legislature and from both the current and former governor, who have recognized the importance of the work charters have done to help close the achievement gap. I am confident that the success of our students is compelling enough evidence of our worth to enable the charter school movement to continue to grow in the years to come."

Read our full statement here.

We have also launched a wonderful, comprehensive timeline of charter news and developments from the last two decades. Check it out!



If you happen to find yourself in Nashville next week for the National Charter Schools Conference, hosted by our friends at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, go see our very own Jill Shahen present!

Jill is part of two Operations sessions on Monday, June 27th:

Driving Performance Through Strategic Budgeting (11:15-12:30)

Charter schools often receive less money than other public schools, usually don't get facility financing, and the cost of benefits keeps rising. All of these factors affect the allocation of resources toward the academic programs. Hear what your leadership and board need to concentrate on through strategic budgeting to ensure your school is able to drive performance and strive for excellence! Participants will learn the basics of beginning a strategic budget planning process.

Three Phases of New Schools: Application, Pre-Opening, and First Year (2:30-5:00; This was named a top 10 session at last year's National Conference!)

Applying to open a charter school? Chartered but not yet open? In the first year of the charter term? If so, this session is for you! During this roundtable session, expert presenters will move from group to group discussing best practices, common missteps, and mistakes. They will provide honest conversation and feedback from a variety of perspectives, including finance, academics, governance, communications, and media.

Make sure you stop by and watch Jill make us proud as always! Click here for more information on the conference and sessions.

On the Blog

Our 20 Graduates in 20 Days series continues! Meet Anabell, an Achievement First Amistad grad:


And you can read the rest of these amazing stories here.

Our celebration of 20 years of Connecticut charters continues later this week with a new episode of The Grade. Stay tuned for more on the podcast.

Last week, NECSN CT State Director Jeremiah Grace was part of a panel discussion on the need for more Black men in education. You can read a recap of the event on Extra Credit.

NECSN in the News

Andrea's comments on the end of session made the Kings County Politics story on mayoral control, and our full statement was shared on the Long Island Exchange.


Our Western NY Advocacy Manager Duncan Kirkwood had an excellent piece on the 74 discussing Buffalo's revival. It has to start with the schools. Duncan said:

"The Buffalo 'edu-stablishment' is working night and day to squash any ideas except their own – regardless of who pays the price. Perhaps they should look past their own big feet and realize kids’ futures – and Buffalo’s hope – is what’s under their heel."

You can read the full piece here.

Following charter opponent Wendy Lecker's latest column, NECSN responded in a letter on accountability and the great work of Connecticut charters, saying:

"The truth is, charters offer school choice and innovation to families who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it, despite being funded $4,000 less per student than the average district. Charters deserve our praise and support for that public service — not the ruthless smears they continually receive from entrenched special interests."

New York News

Head over to the Times Union for more on the end-of-session deal, and you can read more on mayoral control on the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is looking to clarify his position on charters. He likes some charters but still doesn't think many want to serve all kids. Mayor de Blasio targets charters like this because we all know issues don't exist in the NYC district schools.

This Thursday, June 23rd, Renaissance Academy of Arts Charter School students are putting on an original play called The Princess Detectives. Four second graders at the Rochester charter developed the idea with members of the school's staff. You can learn more about this awesome project here.

Take the time to read this powerful and moving blog from an Achievement First North Brooklyn Prep teacher reflecting on Orlando and identity in the classroom.

From WKBW in Buffalo: Tapestry freshman running into history books.

Connecticut News

Achievement First parent Claudia Phillips also responded to Wendy Lecker's charter claims, saying:

"Her attacks are outrageous, incorrect and tired; as are the excuse-makers who continue to look the other way while so many black and Latino kids are still stuck without a chance for a good education."

Morgan Barth was voted the new principal at Amistad Academy.

CT Forward, a new advocacy group backed by Families for Excellent Schools, will survey House and Senate candidates across the state on their support for charters.

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What We're Doing, What We're Reading - June 21, 2016
What We're Doing, What We're Reading - June 21, 2016
Read the blog at Extra Credit