San Jose Charter Schools Celebrate 20th Anniversary of Charter Schools in California

October 12, 2012

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PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release

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

San Jose area leaders also discuss closing the achievement gap in the area

San Jose, CA.--This Friday, San Jose area leaders including San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools Xavier De La Torre joined local charter school leaders and PACT parents and supporters to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the charter schools movement in California, and to highlight the importance of working together to close the prevalent achievement gap.

"California's charter school law has initiated a broad reform movement consisting of parents and educators who are coming together to create new schools which are better meeting the needs of students and encouraging improvement throughout our public education system. As more charter schools open and as more Californians become aware of the great new options that charter schools are creating for communities across the state, we see a growing recognition that the charter school movement is becoming one of the most important reform efforts to have happened in many years," said Jed Wallace, president and CEO, California Charter Schools Association (CCSA).

"The academic achievement gap continues to cripple our Latino, African American and Southeast Asian students and their communities in Santa Clara County has been described as a crisis of epic proportions. The sense of urgency around this issue stems from a growing acknowledgment that this country's economic prosperity and the quality of life once promised to Americans, is in jeopardy," said County Superintendent of Schools, Xavier De La Torre. "Less and less Americans have access to even the same quality of life enjoyed by their parents. The Santa Clara County Office of Education and organizations like PACT and the San Jose Charter School Consortium are committed to a renaissance of the public education system that was once the envy of the world - working together on behalf of ALL students - this noblest of goals is attainable."

PACT Community and Parent Leaders, with the San Jose Charter School Consortium, educators and elected officials toured several area schools as well, including Downtown College Prep, Rocketship Mateo Sheedy, ACE, KIPP Heartwood Academy, Summit Public Schools, and Alpha Blanca Alvarado Middle School. These charters are making significant strides towards closing the achievement gap.

At the Community Action Meeting, PACT parent leaders urged public officials to recommit to the collaborative San Jose 2020 (SJ2020) initiative, co-chaired by Mayor Reed and Superintendent De La Torre, aimed at closing the achievement gap for the 40,000 students below grade level in San Jose. Without a serious, renewed commitment to real change, SJ2020 is faltering much like the students being left behind by school systems in need of reform.

SJ2020's Annual Report 2012 highlights very little progress to date on closing the achievement gap in the identified key areas. For example, the achievement gap in San Jose for 5th grade Mathematics widened last year to 58% up from 32% the year before. Even where there has been slight progress, a 33%-43% achievement gap remains in English Language Arts for 3rd, 5th, 8th and 11th graders.

In the fall of 1992, Governor Pete Wilson signed SB 1446, better known as the Charter Schools Act, making California the second state to formally establish the creation of charter schools. The charter movement has transformed public education, and heralded in an era in which parents and communities can create schools of choice for their children and have greater flexibility and richer learning environments in exchange for added accountability.

In San Jose, there are currently 39 charter schools serving approximately 17,300 students. This year, California has over 1,000 charter schools and over 450,000 students, the most of any other state in the U.S. The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) held celebratory events in San Diego and Oakland this weekend to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the charter movement. CCSA is planning other events throughout the year in different cities.

For more information on the 20th Anniversary of charter schools in California, visit http://anniversary.calcharters.org.

About the California Charter Schools Association

The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 982 charter public schools and more than 412,000 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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