October 2012 Message to Members from Jed Wallace

October 18, 2012

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JedWallaceSmall.jpg Greetings to you all! As I continue my travels throughout California, I continue to be deeply impressed by the great passion and resolve that parents and educators are showing in community after community to open new charter schools and to support our existing schools to become even more successful.

Among the most heartening developments I have seen in recent months, is the great energy that charter school stakeholders are bringing to our shared effort to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the charter school movement. On October 10, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join nearly fifty charter school educators in Chico where we had the opportunity to reflect on the remarkable progress that charter schools have made, such that approximately 20% of public school students are currently enrolled in area charter schools.

And on October 12 and 13, we saw charter school parents and teachers join community leaders at events in San Diego, Oakland, and San Jose to raise even greater awareness about the new options that have been made available to parents since California's original charter school law was signed in the fall of 1992. In just two days, we saw approximately 1,000 charter school parents, students and staff come together to share inspirational stories and advocate for policy initiatives supportive of charter schools, and indeed all public schools. Read more in the article below.

These gatherings and others like them happening in communities across the state give us occasion to appreciate yet again the unique value that charter schools are bringing to public education, whether it is the clear evidence that the achievement gap may be closed as was the focus in San Jose, the compelling data that quality charter schools can be opened at ever-growing scale as was highlighted in Oakland, or the sheer variety of options that is being provided by a large and growing portfolio of charter schools as was discussed in San Diego.

Meanwhile, across the state we continue to battle against irresponsible actions being taken by protectors of the status quo who seek to limit the impact of charter schools. In Los Angeles, charter school supporters and parents from Families That Can presented hundreds of signed petitions at the October 9 board meeting of the Los Angeles Unified School District to protest Board Member Steve Zimmer's resolution to impose a moratorium on new charter schools in the district. And on November 13 when the board will formally consider Zimmer's resolution, we will be working with our many members and parents in Los Angeles to send a clear and unmistakable signal that any attempt to revoke parents' rights to choose where their kids go to school is simply out of touch with what the vast majority of Californians want for our public education system.

One common theme that ties together our 20th Anniversary events and our ongoing advocacy efforts is a shared recognition that the elections happening on November 6th are of great importance to charter schools and to all of California. At the top of the list, of course, is Governor Brown's Prop. 30 initiative, which we believe stands the best chance of helping California's public schools avoid further destructive budget cuts. That is why we were among Prop. 30's earliest supporters and why we launched our CIVICS campaign, in order to encourage as many charter supporters as possible to understand the stakes of the upcoming election and to have their voices be heard.

Across the state we are also encouraging our members to educate their parents about a wide range of elections that will have bearing on the future of charter schools. From school board races in Oakland Unified and in Santa Clara County, to an important facilities bond on the ballot in San Diego, to Assembly and Senate races happening throughout the state, we are encouraging our members to undertake non-partisan voter registration and education efforts to make sure that our base of supporters turn out on election day in unprecedented numbers. Meanwhile, our sister C4 organization, CCSA Advocates, is endorsing candidates and ballot initiatives and is building our long term political strength so that we are able to elect the charter school supportive candidates that our students and parents deserve.

It is a big undertaking - not only operating and growing terrific new public schools, but on top of that investing the time and effort needed to win some of the most important policy battles happening anywhere in our society today. But we know that, with the right support coming from the Association and others, our members are up to the challenge. Ultimately, working together, I am confident we will keep California's charter school movement on its transformational trajectory.

Jed Wallace
President and CEO
California Charter Schools Association

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