Partnering by Choice Discussion Lively and Informative at #TribFest19
by: Bibi Yasmin Katsev, Executive Director, District Charter Alliance
The tagline to the Texas Tribune Trib Fest session today was “when charter school operators and public school districts put aside their differences and join forces, students win.” We could not agree more. Moderator and journalist Bekah McNeel started off with the broad question, “why are districts and charters doing partnerships. It would be so much easier not to.”
The leaders on stage shared they came together for the benefit of kids and reaching students across the district and the region they serve. Midland Superintendent Riddick said, “When families can choose their path, students succeed.”
The panel’s discussion touched upon the complex work of two large organizations collaborating and negotiating the many aspects of partnerships. They talked about vulnerability, trust and being open and transparent along the way. They talked about accountability on both sides of the equation, equity and finding areas and students where the need is great.
The “why” question was particularly moving when the discussion turned to helping schools that have been struggling for multiple years. Midland’s superintendent stated, “The community has not given up on the school. [We have to] design a school for the students who did not have options, and to attack the work for this generation who are under attack.”
The panelists all agreed partnership work with turnarounds and innovations is not easy, and it is important to focus on creating sustainable changes that will remain to serve students well in the future. Collectively, the four school leaders shared, “It takes a courageous superintendent and board to do this work. It involves getting the right leader. It takes changing sometimes fixed mindsets in education. It takes cooperation and finding a team that works well together.”
Thank you to District Charter Alliance members Traci Davis from Grand Prairie ISD, Yasmin Bhatia from Uplift Education, Orlando Riddick from Midland ISD, and Bethany Solis from IDEA Public Schools for sharing their partnership stories, struggles and successes. On behalf of the members of the District Charter Alliance, we wish them all the best this school year as they work hard for the students they serve.
The Texas District Charter Alliance (DCA) represents 21 organizations; Aldine ISD, Democracy Prep Charter School, El Paso ISD, El Paso Leadership Academy, Fort Worth ISD, Grand Prairie ISD, Great Hearts, KIPP Texas Public Schools, IDEA Public Schools, Leadership Academy Network, Longview ISD, Lubbock ISD, Midland ISD, Responsive Education Solutions, Rural Schools Innovation Zone, San Antonio ISD, School Innovation Collaborative, Spring Branch ISD, Transformation Waco, Uplift Education, and YES Prep.
Statement from Bibi Yasmin Katsev, Executive Director, Texas District Charter Alliance on passage of House Bill 4205
May 24, 2019
“The District Charter Alliance celebrates the passage of House Bill 4205. This bill allows school districts to move forward with struggling campuses and find innovative models through partnerships to serve children well and keep students in the same campus location.”
The District Charter Alliance supports responsible and meaningful legislation that allows for district charter partnerships and provides students with opportunities for greater innovation and success.
- Without the passage of HB 4205 in the 86th Legislative Session, current law would have compelled a school district to go with one of two options when a school is in danger of being closed due to poor performance. If a campus is forced to close its doors, it cannot reopen and serve the same grade levels it did previously. The only two options: close the school entirely or serve different grade levels - which further disrupts learning for struggling students.
- HB 4205 will now provide a third option: it will allow a school district to partner with a high performing non-profit with a track record of success for all student populations. In a similar manner to the guard rails put in place for partnerships within the 2017 law, SB 1882, districts are able to partner with an innovative, high-performing entity and non-profit for a school turn-around.
- With this additional tool for school boards and districts to use, HB 4205 accomplishes the intent of current law: to ensure children are not stuck at a troubled school. Students can stay in their local school with a new partner with a proven track record of success.
Statement from Bibi Yasmin Katsev, Executive Director, Texas District Charter Alliance on final passage of House Bill 3, School Finance Reform in Texas
May 27, 2019
The Texas District Charter Alliance (DCA) praises the hard work and dedication of the 86th Legislature in passage of comprehensive school finance reform this session. One of three main legislative priorities for DCA this year was supporting a school finance bill that equally benefits traditional district and charter students and integrates an outcomes-based funding strategy that supports early literacy as well as college, career and military readiness. DCA also promoted the need for more funding along with flexibility and innovation for districts and charters to reach outcomes.
The 86th Legislature passed the two-year state budget with an additional $11.5 billion to reduce school property taxes, increase teacher pay and increase state aid to schools; $2B to enhance compensation for teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses, prioritizing veteran educators with 6 or more years of service; and an increase of $230M for the Teacher Retirement System to maintain current health care benefits and premiums for retired teachers.
To support transformative and necessary collaborations in public education and to provide students with opportunities for greater innovation and success, DCA appreciates the inclusion of the following items in House Bill 3:
- Increased funding for the basic allotment;
Outcomes-based funding for College, Career, and Military Readiness;
- Though DCA also still supports 3rd grade outcomes funding.
Strategic teacher compensation designed by districts and charters if they choose, raises for teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses, incentive pay for rural and high poverty campuses, mentor teacher allotment;
- Another DCA legislative priority this session we were pleased to see included, supports strategic teacher incentive pay proposals that allow a state-developed or rigorous locally-developed compensation and evaluation systems to be eligible for funding incentives for excelling teachers.
- Funding for full-day Pre-K for all economically disadvantaged students along with English Language Learners and dyslexia identification program funds;
- Tiered weighted funding across districts in terms of students’ poverty status to recognize that certain students have more challenging circumstances affecting their education;
- Funding to improve literacy outcomes via professional development and phonics training in grades K-3, incentives for combatting summer slide incentives and funding to support dual language programs;
- And more.
The Texas District Charter Alliance represents 14 organizations; Democracy Prep Charter School, El Paso ISD, El Paso Leadership Academy, Fort Worth ISD, Grand Prairie ISD, Great Hearts, KIPP Texas Public Schools, IDEA Public Schools, Midland ISD, Responsive Education Solutions, San Antonio ISD, Spring Branch ISD, Uplift Education, and YES Prep.
Statement from Bibi Yasmin Katsev, Executive Director, Texas District Charter Alliance on House Bill 3
Congratulations to Chairman Huberty, Vice Chairman Bernal and members of the Texas House of Representatives on today’s passage of comprehensive school finance reform with House Bill 3. One of the three main legislative priorities of the Texas District Charter Alliance (DCA) for the 86thLegislative Session is supporting comprehensive school finance reform that equally benefits traditional district and charter students. The focus on transformative and necessary school finance reform has brought all sides together. On behalf of the members of the Texas District Charter Alliance, I thank you for the hours and hours of work. We are pleased to see this important legislation swiftly heading to the Texas Senate.
The Texas District Charter Alliance (DCA) represents 14 organizations; Democracy Prep Charter School, El Paso ISD, El Paso Leadership Academy, Fort Worth ISD, Grand Prairie ISD, Great Hearts, KIPP Texas Public Schools, IDEA Public Schools, Midland ISD, Responsive Education Solutions, San Antonio ISD, Spring Branch ISD, Uplift Education, and YES Prep.
- The DCA supports comprehensive school finance reform that equally benefits traditional district and charter students and integrates an outcomes-based funding strategy that supports early literacy, and college, career and military readiness. Such reform must allow for flexibility and innovation for districts and charters to reach the outcomes. We seek new revenue to support the reform.
- The DCA supports strategic teacher incentive pay proposals that allow a state-developed or rigorous locally-developed compensation and evaluation systems to be eligible for funding incentives for excelling teachers.