The Colorado League of Charter Schools Conference

Last Thursday and Friday I attended The Colorado League of Charter Schools 17th Annual Charter Schools Conference. I’ve been attending the League’s annual conference for many years now and I have to say that each and every year they get better and better. This year’s conference was simply outstanding!

Some background about this conference taken from the League’s website:

“The Colorado Charter Schools Conference is the largest annual gathering of charter school leaders, business managers, board members, teachers, parents and community members from new and veteran charter schools across Colorado.
This year’s theme “Putting Students First,” will be woven throughout the conference. Participants will learn how to put students first in all areas of a charter school, from the classroom, to the business office, to the board room, and more.”

“Putting Students First” resonated in every presentation I attended as well as every speaker’s speech.

This year again the League offered free half-day admission on Day 2 for parents. There were many parent involvement workshops offered.

During Thursday’s lunch we heard from Dr. Douglas Reeves who is the founder of The Leadership and Learning Center. He spoke about demystifying teaching and leadership and touched on the 90/90/90 Schools which not only help the practices for teachers and leaders in high poverty schools but for any school. Listen as Dr. Douglas Reeves talks about a commitment of teachers and leaders to improve achievement.

Unfortunately I missed breakfast on Friday, so I missed hearing from Colorado State Board of Education Chairman, Bob Schaffer as he discussed the current educational crisis in Colorado and how charters factor into this equations.

Former Senate President and current President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Peter C. Groff, spoke during lunch on Friday. As Colorado Senate President, Peter Groff lead the way in improving charter school legislation, in getting rid of enrollment caps, and he was instrumental and influential in many challenges that charter schools faced in Colorado. He talked about how charter schools are becoming the leading edge in education reform and how Colorado understands the high performing charter school sector. Charter schools are leading the way and we must advocate for the charter school movement in order to help improve education.

Congressman Jared Polis joined us via video and shared some encouraging remarks as a supporter of charter schools and choice in education.

Friday’s breakout session entitled Parent Grassroots Advocacy at the State and Local Level was an hour and a half session full of discussion on parents’ grassroots involvement and how parental involvement can make a significant impact in the outcome of policy, legislation, and elections.

We heard from an amazingly inspirational panel of experts including:

Vincent Badolato, Colorado League of Charter Schools

Terrance Carroll, former Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives

Dr. Debora Scheffel, Colorado State Board of Education

Mary Seawell, Denver Public Schools Board of Education

Meghann Silverthorn, Douglas County School District Board of Education

As parents, we all know how important it is to be involved in our children’s education and to ensure that our children’s individual educational needs are being met. This panel of engaging and motivational speakers shared their remarks about parent grassroots advocacy and how important it is as parents to make your voice heard to legislators.

Here are some ways to communicate your policy makers:

Write an e-mail or a letter
Make a phone call

Write an op-ed and send it to your local newspaper

Testify at a committee hearing

Take a State Board of Education member or a legislator out for coffee

Reach out to your legislator and ask for appointment to come to their office and talk

Here’s how to find your representatives:

First you need your 9-digit zip code. Don’t know it? Click here on USPS and input your address, city, state, 5-digit sip code and submit. This will generate your 9-digit zip code.

Then…

Click on Project Vote Smart and input your 9-digit zip code to find your representatives.

To paraphrase some of the significant remarks from the panel:

Parental involvement is the key for our children’s success!

Parental involvement is paramount to student success!

Parents should pay attention, educate themselves, read, research, and do their homework.

Parents should take ownership; organize groups, get outside, talk, communicate your position, and push for excellence.

Parents have an obligation and a responsibility to our children and it’s never too late to start advocating for our children, our future.

Parents should get involved and make their voices heard during political challenges.

Getting involved in the political process as parents and constituents is so important and influential.

Can’t stay status quo; it just isn’t working anymore.

To improve funding we all need to come together to advocate for our children.

Education is a partisan thing; you are either for or against education reform.

And I leave you with this powerful and very meaningful message:

Don’t capitulate to fear!

Parents should be intimately involved not intimidated by being involved!

Thanks to the Colorado League of Charter Schools for an outstanding conference filled with learning and networking!

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