Monthly Archives

September 2022

Share Your Input as the State Redesigns Its Accountability Model

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Work is underway to redesign the state’s school accountability model. Earlier this month, State Superintendent Catherine Truitt launched an advisory group that will help develop the new model. (Read more about the advisory group here. See a blog post about charter leader John Marshall’s participation in that group here.)

Weigh in on the state’s accountability model

Now, education stakeholders have an opportunity to share their input. EdNC has opened a survey to solicit public perspectives. However, it’s important to weigh in soon. The survey closes on Monday, October 10, at 5:00 p.m. EdNC will share a final report, including survey results, with the Department of Public Instruction. EdNC will also post results publicly.

Find a link to the survey here.

Union Academy’s John Marshall to serve on Superintendent’s accountability group

By News
State Superintendent Catherine Truitt has launched a new advisory group to redesign the state’s current accountability model. Called Operation Polaris Testing and Accountability Advisory Group, it includes lawmakers, policymakers, educators, and other state leaders. The goal: develop a model that more effectively measures school quality. In a press release announcing 2021-22 test scores and school performance grades, Sup. Truitt said, “The current accountability model does not do justice to the hard work that teachers and students put in every day in schools across the state.” She added, “I look forward to working with stakeholders to consider other metrics important to determining school quality.”

A charter leader joins the Superintendent’s accountability group

At its formation, however, the group did not include representation from charter leaders. As a result, the Coalition expressed concern to DPI leadership, and this unintentional omission was rectified promptly. Earlier this month, Assistant Superintendent Andrew Smith asked John Marshall, Head of School at Union Academy Charter School, to serve. John has led Union Academy since 2020 and has worked as an educator and school leader for over three decades.

Head of School John Marshall stands outside Union Academy Charter School in Monroe, North Carolina. He will advise the Superintendent as a member of her new accountability group. Photo credit: John Marshall

Here is John’s statement, shared with the Coalition, about his service on the advisory group:

I’m delighted to join the Superintendent’s new advisory group on testing and accountability, as together we work to redesign the state’s current model. A veteran school leader in both the public and private K-12 sectors, I understand the importance of approaching accountability with a spirit of agility and innovation. We need to reimagine our outdated model, ensuring we measure outcomes that best reflect school quality—even as we continue to support academic achievement.
–John Marshall, Head of School, Union Academy Charter School
The Coalition looks forward to hearing the recommendations from this advisory group. We’re so pleased to know John will be lending his expertise.
Read more about the Superintendent’s advisory group from EdNC.

Coalition Releases 2022 Candidate Recommendations

By Election 2022, News
This week, the Coalition released its slate of recommended candidates for the 2022 election. View the list of recommended candidates here. Recommendations are for candidates running for seats in the N.C. Senate and the N.C. House of Representatives.

A voter guide, featuring candidates who support public charter schools

In the press release announcing candidate recommendations, Coalition Executive Director Lindalyn Kakadelis said:
Public charter schools are part of the public school family. These candidates support public charter schools so that all families, not just the select few, can have a choice in their children’s schooling. If you care about education and school choice, we recommend you support these candidates.
Our hope is that this slate of recommendations will serve as an effective voter guide, helping North Carolinians understand where the 2022 candidates stand on fair funding and charter autonomy. These issues are vital to charter school growth and sustainability in our state. If you haven’t had a chance to review the candidates’ responses to our 2022 Candidate Questionnaire, please take a look. Find completed questionnaires on our website here.

Rep. Bradford honored as “Charter Champion” at Lake Norman Charter School

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Today the Coalition presented Rep. John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg) with a 2022 “Charter Champion” award. The award recognizes Rep. Bradford’s  strong support of public charter schools in the North Carolina General Assembly.

‘A fierce voice … for the importance of public charter schools’

In her remarks, Coalition Executive Director Lindalyn Kakadelis called Rep. Bradford a “fierce voice in the legislature for the importance of public charter schools, and for the value they offer to children from all walks of life.” Rep. Bradford has “had a hand in some of the most important charter-related bills that have come out of the legislature in recent years,” she added. Moreover, his support included “a bill he led last year to ensure timely payments of local funding for charter schools.”

Coalition Executive Director Lindalyn Kakadelis presents Rep. John Bradford with the “Charter Champion” award.

Today’s event took place at Lake Norman Charter School in Huntersville, North Carolina. Shannon Stein, a member of the Coalition’s Board of Directors and the superintendent of Lake Norman Charter School, was on hand to congratulate Rep. Bradford. Superintendent Stein also leads the Coalition Board’s Legislative Committee. Michelle Holland, the principal of Lake Norman Charter’s elementary school,  joined the Coalition in honoring Rep. Bradford.

Rep. Bradford receives the “Charter Champion” award this morning at Lake Norman Charter.
From left to right: Principal Michelle Holland; Rep. John Bradford; Executive Director Lindalyn Kakadelis; Superintendent Shannon Stein.

Following the event, Rep. Bradford met with elementary school parents, discussing his work in the state legislature to support charter schools. See more photos on Lake Norman Charter’s Facebook page.

Read more about the Coalition’s 2022 Charter Champions here.

Congress Seeks to Overturn New Federal Charter Rule

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Congress is seeking to overturn an unpopular new federal rule, expected to limit charter growth nationwide. In order to jettison the rule, charter supporters in Congress are leveraging the Congressional Review Act. Late last week, for instance, lawmakers introduced a joint resolution, “providing for congressional disapproval” under the Act, and stipulating that the new charter rule “shall have no force or effect.”

North Carolina lawmakers support pushback on charter rule

In the U.S. Senate, Senator Tim Scott is leading the effort to “nullify” the federal rule. See his statement here. Co-sponsors include Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.

Congressman John Moolenaar is leading pushback in the U.S. House of Representatives. Read more from him here. North Carolina Congresswoman Virginia Foxx is an original co-sponsor of the House resolution. View her press release here.

National charter leaders have voiced support for congressional action. In a recent statement, Nina Rees, CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, applauded the resolution. She said:

The Charter Schools Program (CSP) is the only federal program to support the growth of public charter schools across the country. When the U.S. Department of Education proposed new rules which were developed without stakeholder input, in violation of the statute, it could only be interpreted as a direct threat to the existence of these unique public schools.

… Despite modifications made by the U.S. Department of Education to the final rule, we remain concerned that the regulations will delay or prevent thousands of students from accessing seats in high-quality schools with its burdensome requirements. We are grateful our charter school supporters in Congress share these concerns and are taking action. We particularly applaud Senator Tim Scott and Congressman John Moolenaar’s joint resolution to overturn the rules.

Learn more about the CSP rule

Read background on the Coalition blog here and here.

New Civics Resource from the Bill of Rights Institute

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It isn’t too late to sign up for a new civics resource from the Virginia-based Bill of Rights Institute (BRI). It’s called Constitution Day Live, and it’s taking place this Friday, September 16, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This year’s theme is “The Constitution at Work.”

What is Constitution Day Live?

The Bill of Rights Institute describes Constitution Day Live! as a “hybrid streaming program that features direct live engagement with educators and students coupled with pre-recorded segments and published in-class materials to promote the study of the Constitution and Constitutional issues on Constitution Day.”
Learn more by clicking here or on the image from BRI below.
Teachers who sign up will also receive viewing guides and in-class activities for students. Find that sign-up here.

New video: Attending a black-led charter school is like choosing an HBCU

By News
We have a great new video to share with you from CarolinaCAN. It explains why the choice to attend a Black-led charter school is so similar to the decision to attend an HBCU. Moreover, it features those who would really know: a former public charter school student who attends an HBCU–and the dynamic charter leader who shaped his K-12 education.

Charter and HBCU student Javon Floyd: ‘You have a choice, too’

Filmed by our friend Brian Jodice–who has produced some excellent videos for the Coalition–the new video features Javon Floyd and Dr. Tamara Turner. Javon attended Quality Education Academy, a Winston-Salem K-12 public charter school. Now, he’s a student and member of the men’s basketball team at Johnson C. Smith University, a Charlotte HBCU. Dr. Turner is the CEO of Quality Education Academy. QEA, Dr. Turner notes, is a Black-led school of choice that “educates from an HBCU culture and environment.”
The video debuted this weekend at the Aggie/Eagle Classic (North Carolina A &T University vs. N.C. Central University).

Thanks to Marcus Brandon, the executive director at CarolinaCAN, for sharing this great video with the Coalition!

Use the state’s new testing dashboard for public schools

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At last week’s State Board of Education (SBE) meeting, Superintendent Catherine Truitt referenced a new dashboard that disaggregates test data. It’s a great resource for educators and researchers, and features all sorts of ways to search for, and filter, proficiency data.

Find that tool from the Department of Public Instruction here.

The dashboard offers multiple ways to filter data

For instance, users can search by individual school (public charter or district public school), county, region, or school district. In addition, the dashboard displays composite data as well as data for individual subjects and grades–as well as student sub-groups. Users can also filter proficiency data by two standards: the more rigorous CCR (College and Career Readiness) standard as well as the GLP (Grade Level Proficiency) standard.

The dashboard features data from 2016-17 through the 2021-22 results released at last week’s SBE meeting. Data from the 2019-20 school year are not included, because of the pandemic’s impact on testing that year.

Below is a screenshot of overall 2021-22 data for the state of North Carolina

Screenshot from North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s new Testing Dashboard.

Access NC DPI’s presentation of accountability results here.

Ashley Baquero Named as Director of the Office of Charter Schools

By News

Earlier today, State Superintendent Catherine Truitt named Ashley Baquero as the new director of the Office of Charter Schools. She’ll begin September 6. The Coalition’s spotlight of Ashley is below.

Meet Ashley Baquero

A former teacher and advocate for disadvantaged students will lead OCS

Ashley Baquero is the new director of OCS.

The state’s new director of the Office of Charter Schools brings hands-on classroom experience and a diverse skillset to her role. A member of the OCS team since 2018, Ashley Baquero first began working with the state’s charter school office as an education planning and development consultant. But as she steps into the director role this fall, she’ll also draw on her professional background as a former attorney, Teach for America alum, and teacher of disadvantaged students.

 Ashley’s educational ethos is fueled by this core conviction: Everyone, regardless of background, deserves access to a good education. Her perspective has been shaped indelibly by personal experience. “I grew up with a single parent; neither of my parents was a college graduate,” she says. “I knew that education was the route to progressing as a person, from what you’re born into, so that has always been extremely important to me.”

Education for Ashley included a B.A. from Eckerd College as well as a law degree from the University of Florida. However, subsequent work as an attorney left her unfulfilled, prompting reflection about what she enjoyed. Her epiphany launched a career in education. “It always came back to teaching, which is how I got directed into TFA,” she says.

‘There is no one-size-fits-all educational program’

As a TFA corps member, Ashley taught at a Title I district school in Atlanta, later heading to a grant-funded private school in Clarkston, Georgia, to work with refugee students. In 2015, she moved to Durham, North Carolina, to teach at Maureen Joy Charter School.

Working at schools with high numbers of disadvantaged students bolstered her support for choice. “I believe parents know best, and that every child should have the chance to attend a school that provides a high-quality education,” she says. “There is no one-size-fits-all educational program.”

For charters, greater visibility—and opportunity

Across her seven years in North Carolina, Ashley has seen the state’s charter movement change substantially. The pandemic has accelerated shifts. The movement “has become more visible,” she says. “That can have its pros and cons. As everyone knows, charter schools can be a controversial or political topic. But the growth of parental choice and the movement to charter schools during the pandemic are undeniable.”

Such visibility makes accurate messaging essential. It’s even more important, she says, to ensure “we’re telling accurate stories about charter schools and highlighting the innovations and great things that are happening.” The public needs to understand why families are choosing charter schools.

Heightened visibility is also creating opportunities for charter schools. “Everyone, especially a parent, is thinking: What does education look like for my child, post-Covid, as we progress into this different phase? Charters have a really important role in that conversation—and in helping parents understand the charter community and whether it is a good fit for them,” Ashley says.

Shifting the conversation: Are you for kids?

In addition to sharing accurate information, charters could also have a role in framing the discussion. But there are hurdles ahead: “Often, especially with charter schools, the conversation isn’t about what’s impacting kids. It’s focused on adults or it’s political,” Ashley says. “But it should be about students—about how choice is opening up opportunity for them and impacting their lives.”

“I would love to see a time when the conversation isn’t, ‘Are you for charter schools? Or are you for traditional public schools?’” she adds. “Instead, we should be asking, ‘Are you for kids? Are you for student opportunity?’ I want to open doors for that kind of understanding.”

 At OCS, Ashley says she’ll work to improve access to charter schools and provide help for schools that need it. Equity for charters is also important to her. “I want charter schools to get the support they need—and ensure they’re treated fairly,” she says.

What does she wish charter operators knew about her? “One of my strengths is listening to different viewpoints and trying to find a common thread—bringing opposing viewpoints together to find commonality,” she adds.

“That’s what I want to do with charter schools.”