May 2012 Message to Members from Jed Wallace

May 17, 2012

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Dear Members:

As you read this, we're fresh off wrapping up another successful National Charter Schools Week and getting ready to launch a year-long celebration of the 20th anniversary of the charter school movement.

Since Governor Pete Wilson signed the Charter Schools Law in 1992, the number of charter schools has grown significantly in California. This year, charters experienced expansive growth, opening 100 new schools. Currently, there are 982 charter schools in operation in the state, with over 412,000 students enrolled. That's the highest of any state in the nation.

But we haven't just increased in quantity. We are improving the quality of education as well. Milestones like National Charter Schools Week and the 20th anniversary provide a natural opportunity for all of us in the movement to celebrate that fact, to invite others to join with us, and to reflect on where we've been and where the next 20 years will take us.

We at the Association will also use the anniversary as an opportunity to continue to press forward with our advocacy agenda on behalf of the movement.

This is the perfect time to talk about facilities, funding, supports for replication and more--things that would help charters be even more successful in coming years. Indeed, as you will read, many of you stepped forward on incredibly short notice to do just that when the budget subcommittees in the Assembly and the Senate considered Governor Brown's proposed budget, which contains several common-sense charter school items.

The 20th anniversary is also the perfect time for all us to do our part in building awareness of and support for the movement. That is inextricably tied to each of us telling our story: why we work at a charter school, why we send our children to charters, how our schools are reinventing public education.

This month in our California Charter Advocate eNewsletter, which members received on May 16, we feature exactly the type of stories that all of us need to be sharing. Yvonne Chan, a veteran leader within the movement and public education more generally, reflects on her odyssey from immigrant to member of the State Board of Education. Lanie Holmer, a parent at Westlake Charter School in Sacramento, offers her take on testifying before the California State Assembly. "I had to say something," she says. "I'm the voice for my child and my school and if I don't, only the voices on the other side of the issues would be heard."

My story is the same as Lannie's, which is the same as many of yours. As a leader within the charter school movement, I want to ensure that every child in California has the choice to attend schools like the 43 that made U.S. News & World Report's List of 112 Top Charter Schools--not just the one they are assigned to based on their zip code.

In coming months, CCSA will provide a number of resources, including a toolkit and prompts to help you get involved in the 20th anniversary celebration. We will provide some tools to help your school plan events, spread the word, highlight your successes, and inform people in a general way about charter schools' 20 years of reinventing public education. I'm looking forward to celebrating with you!

Jed Wallace
President and CEO
California Charter Schools Association

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