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March 14, 2012

Dear Members:

Traditionally, in March, we focus on highlighting the California Charter Schools Conference. This year is no exception. The conference is an amazing time, when thousands of people from across the state come together to learn about and deepen their connection to the charter school movement. This year, though, we expanded the conference to include Advocacy Week, taking advantage of the Sacramento setting to offer multiple opportunities for face-to-face interactions with the people whose decisions impact your students. The 2012 Funding Equity Rally on the steps of the Capitol was perhaps the most visible part of Advocacy Week, with thousands gathering to demand equitable funding for our schools. Seeing thousands of charter school supporters on the lawn of the Capitol, I was struck by the power of our movement, as were the legislators and policymakers who were in attendance.

At the conference, we also honor the recipients of this year's Hart Vision Awards, which recognize and honor individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in education. The awards were established in 1995 in honor of Gary K. Hart, retired California State Senator and former California Secretary of Education who sponsored the legislation that established California charter schools.

Thanks to the excellent teachers like Kelly Sullivan Perez, leaders like Dr. David Patterson, volunteers like Erika Higgins Ross, authorizers like the Fresno County Office of Education and legislators like Senator Bob Huff-- whose support of our charter schools has been steadfast-- our movement has made excellent progress in reinventing public education. We see that clearly with this year's Hart Vision Schools of the Year, St. HOPE Public School 7 (PS 7) in Sacramento and Gabriella Charter School in Los Angeles. We also see clearly the difference charter schools are making in the lives of kids when we look at data, as CCSA did with the 2012 Portrait of the Movement.

Our research has revealed that charter schools are more likely than non-charter public schools to exceed predicted performance at remarkably high rates, particularly among schools serving primarily socioeconomically-disadvantaged students. PS 7 and Gabriella students live that academic finding each and every day. However, data shows that charters are also more likely than non-charters to persistently underperform. Those of us who attended the conference got a first-hand look at this finding during a presentation on the data contained within Portrait of the Movement, and I think we all left the session feeling concerned about this pattern, but also resolved to address it.

Whether you were there to experience the conference in person, or just read about what you missed, I am sure you will agree with me that with quality volunteers, teachers, leaders and schools like these, the movement has never been stronger. YOU are the charter school movement. Thank you!

Sincerely,

Jed Wallace
President and CEO
California Charter Schools Association

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