March 17, 2011: With all the activity happening on school campuses, it can seem daunting to leave for several days, not to mention the challenge of covering the cost during these difficult budget times. That is why CCSA strives to offer only the highest-quality sessions and speakers, and to offer a variety of discounts and payment structures to those planning to attend. Given that more than 3,000 people attended the 18th Annual California Charter Schools Conference, breaking our previous attendance record, we feel confident that we are striking a successful balance between quality and cost-effectiveness.
And what a conference it was! San Diego was the perfect backdrop to more than 200 breakout and poster sessions, all tightly-focused on the needs of charter schools. Sessions were divided into eight thematic strands: Increasing Student Achievement, Special Education, Teacher Leadership, Improving Charter School Operations, Advocating for the Charter School Movement, Individualized Learning, Developing New Charter Schools, and Online Learning.
Reviews of the conference are rolling in, including these comments from Taishya Adams, Director of State Services at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools:
With the exception of heat rash from the glorious California sun and the slight taste of bitterness upon returning to chilly, rainy and cloudy DC, my time spent on the left coast attending the California Charter School Association's 18th Annual Conference in San Diego, CA last week was spectacular! Jed and his all-star team welcomed over 3,000 charter school leaders, visionaries, legislators, volunteers and parents. Even with so many moving pieces in the convention center, this conference functioned like a well-oiled machine. Well done!
In addition to the many excellent breakout and general sessions at the conference in California, there were a couple of moments that allowed me to see the world in a new way. The first moment occurred during the Parent Summit. Co-hosted by the California Charter School Association (CCSA) and Families that Can, the goal of this one-day special event was for parents to learn about parent organizing and strategize about the future of the charter school movement. Allocating an entire day to engage and empower parents demonstrated CCSA's capacity to proactively involve all stakeholders in the charter school movement, instead of waiting for there to be a problem to reach out to these important constituents. The second moment occurred during the general session while listening to keynote speaker, Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy. Wow. Khan is an awesome public speaker with tangible and inspiring stories and content.
In collaboration with the CCSA conference, the Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys hosted their bi-annual seminar on Federal Civil Rights Laws' Impact on Charter Schools. With topics ranging from "The Legal and Policy Issues Surrounding Charter Schools and Race" to "Predicting New Legal Challenges for Charter Schools with Unique Missions," this seminar addressed urgent issues and allowed for forward thinking.