Meet Our 2013 Education Pioneers: Cameron Lewis

August 1, 2013

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Since 2005, the California Charter School Association has welcomed graduate students each summer from the Education Pioneers Fellowship program to provide their expertise, perspectives and elbow grease to some of the pressing challenges that charter schools face. The mission of Education Pioneers is to identify, train, connect, and inspire a new generation of leaders dedicated to transforming the educational system so that all students receive a quality education.

Cameron joined Education Pioneers to expand his leadership skills and gain further knowledge around the conception and implementation of reform efforts at educational organizations. He is very excited to join CCSA's Office of the President and support a wide range of education practitioners through careful analysis of the Association's annual Fall Data Campaign. Cameron holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Liberal Studies-Teaching Pathways from CSU Monterey Bay and a Masters of Arts degree in Sociology of Education - Education Policy from New York University. He has worked within schools at the primary and secondary level, and he has held leadership roles in several youth service programs.

Describe the project you worked on this summer.

I created a comprehensive research study that seeks to increase school participation rates during the Fall Data Campaign. The Fall Data Campaign is an annual data collection project conducted by CCSA to gather movement-critical information about charter schools in California. My study consisted of creating a database which would allow for differentiation and analysis between germane individual school factors; a literature review which synthesized best practices regarding survey creation and maximizing response rates; and the creation and analysis of a school leader questionnaire, which sought to evaluate CCSA's 2012 outreach efforts, incentives and survey design, as well as, incorporate the voices and opinions of school leaders around potential barriers to participation.

What are you interested in doing in the future?

I am interested in pursuing employment within a centralized education office, which provides support to numerous schools, teachers and administrators. I am also interested in continuing my education and receiving a doctorate in education policy.

What drew you to the Education Pioneers Program?

I have spent several years as a director in the field of youth services and have a background in education policy. However, I did not feel as though I had a holistic understanding of what school leadership looked like in praxis. I wanted an experience that would diversify my perspective of various education reform models and clarify how school leaders and organizations were working to enact them. I also wanted to discover new and exciting career paths within education. Education Pioneers encompassed all of these factors.

What has been the most surprising thing you've learned in the course of your work this summer?

How disparaging the educational opportunities and resources are for students in Oakland, yet how dedicated school administrators are to seeing those gaps in opportunity reduced.

What was your familiarity with charter schools before working at CCSA? How has your view of charter schools changed?

I had only heard of charter schools as a potential school reform model. Many of my classmates in graduate school sought to research the charter school movement, whereas I focused on district level policy and procedures. Every school I have worked within has also utilized a traditional model. I was wary then, of how charter schools fit into the educational sector. However, I now think there are some valid points made by charter schools, as well as, real benefits to offering schools autonomy in their governance. Also, charter school administrators and support staff are just as dedicated to increasing student achievement as traditional schools.

What changes would you like to see in our public education system?

I would like to see a public school system that came together to solve gaps in opportunity for historically underserved students. One that was interested in using intensive research and the voices of students, parents, and the community to decide what was the best course of action to take, before any policy was implemented.

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