18th Annual California Charter Schools Conference Breaks Attendance Record; Focused on Connecting Charter School Leaders, Educators, Parents and Supporters

March 10, 2011

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PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release

Contact: Vicky Waters, CCSA
(415) 505-7575
vwaters@calcharters.org

SAN DIEGO, California (March 10, 2011).-- The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) held the 18th Annual Charter Schools Conference in San Diego this week, successfully bringing together more than 3,000 attendees, including charter school leaders, teachers, parents, and supporters from across the state and abroad, as well as representatives from 200 exhibitors and sponsors.

The attendance number is the highest on record for the Conference's 18-year history.

The theme of this year's Conference was "The Future of California Public Education." The conference focused on connecting attendees with an array of resources, information, and networking opportunities to support charter school growth and prominence in California.

"I believe a connection is forming between the term 'charter' and the word 'hope.' Hope for parents, educators and civic-minded people from all walks of life who understand that our best chance of preserving our country's commitment to public education is to reinvent it," said Jed Wallace, President and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association. "This fall, we opened 115 new charter schools in California. We've added nearly 100,000 students in the last two years, and the pipeline for next year, in spite of all the hardships that we face, is as robust as ever, if not more so."

There are currently 912 charter schools in California serving more than 365,000 students.

The conference wrapped up with an interactive and insightful panel discussion on the popular documentary Waiting for "Superman," which analyzes the country's public education system, and showcases the contributions and impact of charter schools. The panel was moderated by Washington Post journalist and education blogger Jay Matthews, and included WFS's producer Lesley Chillcott, Summit Public Schools CEO Dianne Tavenner, and others.

"Waiting for 'Superman'" struck a chord with so many parents and students across the country. It not only shed light on the challenges facing public education, but it helped raise awareness of charter schools by putting a human face the impact we're having," said Wallace.

In addition, former California Secretary of Education Richard Riordan and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa received Hart Vision Awards for their support of charter schools. The Hart Vision Awards recognize and honor individuals with outstanding leadership and excellence in education. Other Hart Vision Award recipients included Aspire Titan's Meredith Dadigan for Charter Teacher of the Year; Dr. Olga Mohan High School (L.A.) and KIPP Bridge (Oakland) for Charter Schools of the Year; The Classical Academy's Cameron Curry for Charter Leader of the Year; Brian Rogers of the Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland for Charter Volunteer of the Year; and the San Diego Unified School Charter Authorizer of the Year.

In addition, the conference also hosted a Parent Summit for more than 250 charter school parents from several cities, including Oakland, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Diego. The Parent Summit, sponsored by Families That Can, focused on empowering and engaging parents in order to create not only better schools for their children and students in their communities, but also to learn to engage in issues that affect charter schools.

"Our parents are some of the most involved parents in public education, and our goal is to harness that commitment and energy to educate other parents, and also to create better opportunities for charter schools in every community," said Antwaune Goode, executive director of Families That Can.

The 18th Annual Charter School Conference also showcased interactive exhibits ranging from green technology to governance and networking for charter schools, as well as informative and thought provoking sessions on issues such as facilities, funding inequity, legislation, accountability, special education and more.

"It is very important for us to connect not only with our charter schools, but also our communities. This yearly event is very inclusive, and it's held not only to offer resources and information to our charters, but to grow and encourage those connections, so that we can continue to have a transformational impact on people's lives because of the choice in quality education that we bring to every community," added Wallace.

Next year's California Charter Schools Conference will be held in Sacramento from February 27, 2012 to March 1, 2012.

For more information, visit www.calcharters.org.

About the California Charter Schools Association*

The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 912 charter public schools and more than 365,000 students in the state of California. The Vision of the California Charter Schools Association is to usher in a new era in public education so all students attend independent, innovative, accountable schools of choice. The Mission of the California Charter Schools Association is to influence the legislative and policy environments, leverage collective advocacy, and provide resources to support our members in developing and operating high quality, charter schools reflective of California's student population. For more information, please visit www.calcharters.org.

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