June 13, 2017

National Charter Schools Conference Day One Recap

National Charter School ConferenceThis year’s National Charter Schools Conference, happening right now in Washington D.C., is an interesting one. Nina Rees, CEO of National Public Alliance for Charter Schools led today’s keynote session and addressed the effect of the current political climate on the charter school movement. Recognizing that for the past 25 years, charter schools have drawn support from both political parties, Rees opines “Democrats may now be distancing themselves from supporting charter schools due to President Trump’s support of the larger school choice agenda. Meanwhile, budget cuts are being made to public education overall. Republicans may also push to put charter schools on the back burner because they want to reduce federal funding and control of education.”

Regarding the conundrum the charter school movement may face, Rees’ key takeaway message was that “the one thing you cannot be in Washington these days is silent.” She urges all charter school leaders to join together and discuss ways to best approach the federal government about these issues, and to get LOUD about the issues we most care about.

We also heard from Dr. Steve Perry, PhD and the Founder and Head of Schools for Capital Prep – his passion and enthusiasm for supporting the charter school movement is legendary. He gave powerful testimony for choice demand and actionable ideas around ways to amplify the charter school movement. One was to have automatic emails sent to your state legislator every time a child applies to your school.

But mostly, he echoed Rees’ message to get loud and keep fighting for charter school issues. According to Perry, “The most controversial thing you could do in the U.S. is give education to disenfranchised children.”

This inspiring keynote ended with Tom Torkelson, the Founder and CEO of IDEA Schools (and last year’s’ Broad Prize winner) taking the stage to announce the 2017 Broad Prize Winner for Public Charter Schools. Congratulations to Eva Moskowitz and Success Charter Schools!

We held our first breakout session on Monday, I Need a Better Facility for My School: Now What?, which focused on helping charter schools address the challenge of finding and funding adequate facilities for any stage of growth. Speakers included our President and CEO, Stuart Ellis, Kevin Lynch, Senior Director of Cushman & Wakefield, Mike Morley, President and CEO of American Charter Development, and Michelle Lynch, Director of Regulatory Affairs for the California Charter Schools Association. This panel of experts covered the different financing options (from cash to the bond market to long term leases) and best practices for acquiring the right facility to accommodate your growth.

If you weren’t able to make the session, you can download the presentation slides and watch the session recording here. We will also be live-streaming tomorrow’s breakout session on our Facebook pageDigital Marketing 101 for Charter Schools – What You Need to Be Successful.

We wrapped up the action-packed first full-day of conference sessions with the Exhibit Hall Happy Hour (at Booth #501), and meetings. We look forward to seeing you tomorrow at #NCSC17!


  1. This resource is the next best thing to attending the convention. I am very interested in patent and family engagement in education systems throughout our country. I look forward to viewing sessions for the remainder of the convention. Thank You.

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