Due to health concerns relating to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the 2020 National Charter Schools Conference in Orlando, FL, has been canceled. Read our latest update on COVID-19 >
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and DonorsChoose teamed up to support charters schools in a partnership that has supported charter schools with over $87 million. DonorsChoose has also graciously provided the National Charter Schools Conference with gift cards to help conference registrants with their classroom and distance learning projects. Fifty qualifying registrants were randomly selected to receive a $500 gift cards to use to fund projects on DonorsChoose.org.
Here are the winning registrants:
Congratulations to all the winners!
To our community–
Earlier this week, the National Alliance released a statement in response to the death of George Floyd. We would be remiss if we did not take this opportunity to stand with the black community in solidarity against racism, violence, and hate. Now more than ever, we must support one another and speak up for justice and equality. As we continue to prepare for the virtual conference, and beyond, the National Charter Schools Conference team is committed to amplifying more black voices as part of our speaker lineup and producing content that reflects our commitment to equity and social justice.
We invite you to watch and reflect on some of the most influential and empowering keynotes from black leaders on the general session stage. We believe in their message of self-determination, persistence, and hope.
Our hope is that we can emerge from this tragedy as a country, organization, and conference more committed to justice and equality.
The National Charter Schools Conference Team
Angela Christophe, Patricia Guidetti, Sindy Pierre-Noel
#NCSC19 – Margaret Fortune
#NCSC17 – Dr. Steve Perry
#NCSC16 – Dr. Howard Fuller
#NCSC11 – Marion Wright Edelman
Fifty-five million students in the United States are home due to the COVID-19 global health pandemic. Schools around the country not only had to pivot to remote learning quickly, but they have had to evaluate what, why, and how students learn.
As part of our COVID-19 webinar series, Code.org Founder and CEO Hadi Partovi joined us to discuss what schools need to consider as they plan to reopen their doors and reimagine education for the 21st century. Hadi shared some great insights and tips for parents and teachers and provided background on Code.org's efforts to expand access to computer science for underrepresented groups.
Below are three key takeaways from the conversation:
1. Computer science makes schools better
Two hundred years ago when the traditional school model was created, computers did not exist. Today, computers are part of our everyday life; we use them for school, work, and play. However, only about 47% of public schools teach computer science. Computer science is a core skill that helps students improve in math, science, and reading, and studies have shown that students who study computer science are more likely to go to college. Hadi's vision for the future of education includes computer science as a core subject. He also encourages schools to consider teaching computer science and think critically about what we want kids to learn and why.
Hadi asks us to consider what foundational skills students need to have in the Information Age and how schools can ensure that every student is ready for the new global economy.
2. Learn the tech tools
Teachers and students alike had to adapt to teaching and learning online quickly. However, most teachers don't have the training necessary to teach online.
This brings us to Hadi's second consideration for reimagining schools—that teachers must learn new technology tools and keep current with online resources to help supplement in-school learning. Our students live in a digital world, and schools must adapt to learning in that environment.
Embracing new online learning tools will free up time for teachers to mentor students and get students invested in their learning. It also answers the age-old question about how we keep students engaged.
The answer, in this case, is meeting them where they are: online.
3. Plan for every student to have a device
Whether reopening in the summer or the fall, schools are beginning to lay out plans for opening their doors. And the final factor that Hadi urges schools to consider is a plan for every student to have a device.
Planning for every student to have a device is not just an urgency for this global pandemic, but it is a requirement for next year and the years to come. Students falling behind in their studies because they've missing months of learning should not happen due to a lack of technology. The CARES act has allocated 12 billion dollars that schools can use towards bridging the digital divide.
Hadi also suggests creating partnerships with tech companies that can provide devices directly to students and nonprofits that receive computer donations and can give them to students in need.
Sindy Pierre-Noel is the senior manager of programs at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust us into a strange new territory. We don't expect you to do it alone, but with the right tools we can forge ahead despite all of the challenges and uncertainty.
That’s one of the reasons we launched our COVID-19 webinar series featuring keynote speakers from the National Charter Schools Conference who are pioneers in digital learning.
We were especially thrilled to feature Google’s Chief Education Evangelist Jaime Casap in last week’s webinar on working and teaching from home. You can watch the webinar in full, but we realize that some of you are juggling teaching fractions, making lunch, and preparing a presentation for work. So, we are breaking down four of the key takeaways:
1. Take a breath
We are living in unprecedented times, so first things first, take a breath. We are all adjusting to the new normal—figuring out how to keep our families safe, stay at home, work from home, and teach at home. It's not easy. You will make mistakes, so give yourself time to adjust and don't be afraid to pivot. There is no blueprint; we are all learning as we go.
2. Create a schedule, but be flexible
Your students have a daily schedule at school, so while they are home, establish a learning routine, but be flexible. Don't try to replicate school or the office at home. Instead, keep in mind the individual needs of your student and adapt to what works well. Create checkpoints and build in time for fun throughout the day to encourage exploration, creativity, and excitement about learning. Activities can be as simple as learning measurements and fractions by baking the family's favorite treat or taking a Code Break.
3. Embrace Low-Tech Resources
Due to the pandemic, schools across the country switched to distance learning and educators are teaching on platforms like Zoom and Google Classroom. Unfortunately, for many less privileged students, low-tech is the only option. We need to ensure that students who don't have access to technology don't fall behind or feel neglected. Educators and parents must use all available resources to keep the relationship between teachers and students. Office hours via phone and text or providing audio feedback on assignments are some of the ways that teachers can support students learning remotely who have little-to-no access to technology.
4. Invest in Education
The COVID-19 pandemic has put education at the forefront of all our minds. And while this crisis has highlighted many of the education inequalities faced by underprivileged students, it has also put us in a unique position to reimagine what's possible in education. Coming out of this crisis, Jaime highlights three things we can do to futureproof education: invest in high-quality teachers by paying them more, invest in school infrastructure projects to create learning spaces of the future, and focus on the essential skills that students will need to enter the workforce.
Sindy Pierre-Noel is the senior manager of programs at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools