One of our readers and frequent commenters—Joe Nathan— was elected to the Charter School Hall of Fame and will be honored at the National Charter Schools Conference. Joe helped to write the first charter law in the nation in Minnesota. He and Ted Kolderie ensured that charters would be deregulated and would not confirm to Albert Shanker’s template on unionized schools approved only by local school districts. Joe continues to insist that charters are “progressive,” even though their most important funders are the Walton Family Foundation (which funds Joe) and their biggest cheerleaders are the rightwing ALEC and Betsy DeVos.

Charters are in the midst of an existential crisis right now after years of boasting about unlimited growth. That growth has stalled, as Democrats distance themselves from charters. A backlash against charters and privatization is in full swing.

Part of that backlash stems from the daily drumbeat of charter scandals, especially the recent indictment of 11 people connected to an $80 million scam in California.

Here is the program of the National Charter Schools Conference.

NCSC will honor not only Joe, but Ferdinand Zulueta, who runs one of the largest for-profit charter chains in Florida, called Academica. The Zulueta Family has amassed a real estate fortune of more than $100 million, thanks to their business acumen and public funds.

National Charter Schools Conference

We are bummed you couldn’t make it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a little taste of Vegas during the 2019 National Charter Schools Conference (NCSC19)! We will be livestreaming all general sessions and happenings on the Charter Talks stage.

Tune in on our Facebook page for these sessions:

Monday, July 1

Opening General Session (9:30-10:30 a.m. PT): We’re thrilled to welcome back Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, back to the main stage at NCSC19! National Alliance President & CEO Nina Rees will kick-off and lead the first plenary session of NCSC19 with her annual State of the Movement address encouraging us all to share our stories.

And, finally, don’t miss a special guest introduce one of the 2019 Charter School Hall of Fame inductees, Fernando Zulueta, president of Academica!

Charter Talks (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. PT): Back for a third year, presenters will share a 15-minute compelling presentation that shares a big idea, is a tech demo, delves into an issue, or shares a small idea with a big impact. These Charter Talks pack a punch, so come ready to learn a lot in a small amount of time from interactive, engaging presenters!

  • 11:15 a.m. The Fight for the Best Charter Public Schools in the Nation – Cara Stillings Candal, Pioneer Institute
  • 11:30 a.m. The Life and Times of an Independent Charter School Operator – India Ford, T-Squared Honors Academy
  • 11:45 a.m. College for All: A Personal Odyssey – Robert Lane, Southland College Prep HS

Recording of The 8 Black Hands Podcast (3-4:30 p.m. PT): For the first time ever, we will have a live recording of two podcasts on-site, starting with The 8 Black Hands Podcast. The podcast from four black men (Ray Ankrum, Charles Cole, Sharif El-Mekki, and Chris Stewart) engages in passionate discussions about educating Black minds in a country that has perpetually failed them. Don’t miss the live recording of this powerful podcast!

Tuesday, July 2

Recording of Academica Media’s Charter School Superstars Podcast (10 a.m.-12 p.m. PT): The second live podcast recording at NCSC19 will feature a Q&A session with big players in the charter school movement on the Academic Media podcast.

Unleashing Opportunity and Creativity with Computer Science (12:15-1 p.m. PT): Hadi Partovi, founder of and creator of the global Hour of Code campaign, talks about the importance of teaching computer science as part of the core academic curriculum in grades K-12, introducing creativity to the classroom, approaches to diversity in computer science, and implementation challenges in schools.

Second General Session and Charter School Rally (3:15-4:30 p.m. PT): The National Alliance is pleased to have Hadi Partovi as our keynote speaker during Tuesday’s general session. Romy Drucker, deputy director of K-12 Education at the Walton Family Foundation and co-founder of The 74, will also give remarks. The General Session will close with a Charter Schools Rally encouraging us all to speak up on behalf of the nation’s 3.2 million charter school students, led by Dr. Howard Fuller, Institute for the Transformation of Learning; Keri Rodrigues, Massachusetts Parents United; and Myrna Casterjón, California Charter Schools Association.

Wednesday, July 3

Closing Session (9-10 a.m. PT): During the closing session of NCSC19, we will be recognizing two more 2019 Charter School Hall of Fame inductees: Joe Nathan, Ph.D., director of the Center for School Change, and Dr. Margaret Fortune, president and CEO of Fortune School. Clifton Taulbert, president of the Freemount Corporation and author of Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored, will be delivering our last keynote session of NCSC19 with his talk on the charter of community—a fitting end to the conference. Kendall Massett, executive director of Delaware Charter School Network and vice chair of the State Leaders Council, will lead the final session.

Don’t forget to follow the conversation throughout the conference on Twitter with #NCSC19!


While technology is great, everything is so much better in person—and you can still register onsite at Mandalay Bay. We’d love to have you!

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