Texas Charter Schools Association Forms to Accelerate Student Achievement Through Quality Charter Schools With David Dunn at Helm
AUSTIN, Texas, Sept. 23 /PRNewswire/ — Today, against the backdrop of expansive growth in charter schools in Texas, the Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA) announced it was opening its doors to accelerate student achievement by mobilizing and supporting a diverse set of highly effective charter schools.
Additionally, the TCSA touted the selection of David Dunn, chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, as its Executive Director effective October 6.
The TCSA appointment is the latest step in a career devoted to improving academic results and raising standards in America’s schools. Before his most recent stint with Secretary Spellings, Dunn served as special assistant to the President for domestic policy at the White House Domestic Policy Council, the associate executive director of the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) where he acted as the association’s chief lobbyist and expert on school finance and accountability, and 15 years in education and fiscal policy analysis for the state of Texas. He also acted as lead staff for an education policy center that developed the blueprint for Texas’ School Accountability System in the early 1990′s.
The development of TCSA has involved more than 100 charter operators across Texas and is supported by the Charter School Policy Institute, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. In announcing its formation, its founders highlighted student enrollment numbers in the State’s charter schools: in the 1996-97 school year nearly 2,500 Texas school children were enrolled in charter schools; by 2007-08 that number had climbed to more than 113,000. Another 16,000 students are on waiting lists.
“Parents and kids deserve quality education options,” Dunn said. “TCSA is committed to giving them those options.”
“Texas charter schools are making terrific progress in creating unique, tailored methods to improve academic achievement among low-income and at-risk students, as well as increasing graduation rates and helping them prepare for college,” said Chuck Cook, chief executive officer of Responsive Education Solutions, Texas’ largest charter network, and TCSA board member. “Our autonomy is part of what makes us successful, but an organization like TCSA helps us collectively work together to improve quality across the board. David Dunn, with his exceptional background in driving accountability into schools, is the perfect leader for this new organization.”
Charles Miller, TCSA board chairman, said “I have been working for more than a decade to support charter schools, from helping to get the original Texas charter law passed, to working in organizations to help fund and develop policies for charter schools in the state. The formation of the TCSA is a crucial step in the positive evolution of public charter schools in Texas and will serve as a leadership model for the country.”
Never far from the action in her home state, Secretary Spellings weighed in on the association’s launch and selection of her chief of staff for its top leadership post:
“I can’t think of a better person than David Dunn to lead this important organization,” said Secretary Spellings. “I’ve had the distinct privilege of working with David for nearly two decades. I’ve benefitted from his policy expertise, his excellent judgment, his sound leadership and most importantly, his friendship. It took some persuading to get David to join me in Washington, DC, but persuade I did. I knew he’d return home when the right opportunity came his way. And this is surely it. As I have witnessed firsthand David’s unwavering commitment to accountability in our schools and academic achievement by our students, so too will the charter school movement in Texas.”
Assisting Dunn in leading this important organization will be a 13-member governing board comprising six community stakeholders and seven charter operators from across the state. Membership will include Texas charter school operators from different regions and represent the diversity of charter schools. Its membership council, which will be divided into five regions, will meet regularly to tackle important issues of advocacy and association services.
Dunn talked about his new appointment and the launch of TCSA:
“I’m honored to have been tapped by TCSA and to work with such a distinguished group of Texans who are so committed to educational excellence,” said Dunn. “For as long as I’ve been working on the frontlines of the education reform movement, I’ve dedicated my efforts to ensuring that all children have access to a high quality education … one that will open the doors to opportunity and personal fulfillment. I know and believe that the charter school movement in Texas has changed the educational landscape for the better. I dedicate to invest my energies to ensure that the school children of my home state will continue to have access to the best schools in the public school system.”
Dunn added that the work of the TCSA will revolve around defining effective standards for charter schools, delivering services to the membership and advocating on behalf of member schools. Effectiveness will be based on defined strategic operational and academic achievement indicators. Once identified, lessons learned will be used to design action plans and provide targeted professional development. Further, the association plans to offer co-op services to maximize the collective resources and purchasing power of its membership and provide essential support through training and best practice sharing. Finally, the critical role charter schools play in the overall public education system will be given visibility through a sustained and vigorous education and outreach effort aimed at the public, decision-makers and policymakers.
Charter schools provide an alternative within the public school system, offering varying missions and models to best serve their respective populations, which include primarily low-income families and at-risk students. Texas charter schools are free, public schools open to all students, yet still operate under the direction of the Texas Education Agency and are subject to the same statewide assessments and accountability measures as traditional public schools. Because of their unique operating models, charter schools are able to employ innovative and creative education methods in an effort to improve student learning. Many of these methods and lessons learned can then be applied to the Texas public education system at large.
Additional Statements of Support for TCSA and the Appointment of David Dunn
Governor Rick Perry, (R-Tx):
“David Dunn has a long and distinguished career at both the state and federal level. With the growth and expansion of choices in public education through charter schools, I am confident that his leadership will benefit Texas through this important new organization.”
Senator Florence Shapiro, (R-Plano), Chairman of the Texas Senate Education Committee:
“I applaud the Texas Charter Schools Association’s choice of David Dunn as executive director. Charter schools are public schools with a very unique student population, with a wide and varied type of programming–from dropout prevention to college preparatory. David’s leadership, experience and proven track record will help launch these schools even farther into the 21st Century.”
Speaker Tom Craddick, Texas House of Representatives (R – Midland):
“The TCSA board has chosen wisely to put their faith in David Dunn, and we are glad to be able to welcome him home to Texas. TCSA tapped a leader who has not only crafted landmark federal education policy, but also has a deep understanding of education in Texas. Dunn will no doubt lead the Texas charter schools movement to greater heights.”
Representative Rob Eissler (R-Woodlands), chair of Texas’ House Public Education Committee:
“It is a great opportunity for the charter school community to attract a leader with such strong credentials, and the selection of David Dunn is a wise decision. It is a very hopeful sign of progress as we move into the next session of the legislature.”
Texas Commissioner of Education, Robert Scott
“David Dunn is a well known, highly regarded education policy expert. The charter school movement will benefit from his expertise. We look forward to working with him in this new role.”
For a bio of David Dunn, go to http://www.ed.gov/news/staff/bios/dunn.html.
For further information, please contact: Christine Farazi Weber Shandwick 512-794-4707 CFarazi@webershandwick.com
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Texas Charter Schools Association
CONTACT: Christine Farazi of Weber Shandwick, +1-512-794-4707,CFarazi@webershandwick.com, for Texas Charter Schools Association