Statement From Jed Wallace, CEO and President of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), on the Civil Rights Project Report "Choice Without Equity"

February 4, 2010

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PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release February 4, 2010

Contact: Vicky Waters, CCSA (415) 505-7575

Statement From Jed Wallace, CEO and President of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), on the Civil Rights Project Report "Choice Without Equity"

SACRAMENTO, California.--"The Civil Rights Project report on charter school diversity is out of step with the reality of today's schools and students' needs. It's unfortunate and unconscionable for the Civil Rights Project to release a study based on assumptions and incomplete data, and to solely focus their findings on demographics and "exposure" to diversity, rather than the academic performance of charter school students. This approach is overly simplistic and reflects the same thinking that has proven to be unsuccessful for the majority of children of color for decades.

"The civil rights issue here is the persistent achievement gap and high drop-out rates for these students when they are left to languish in traditional schools that fail to meet their academic needs.

"California charter schools are very diverse, have open-enrollment, and offer innovative programs that focus on providing high-quality education for all students--regardless of race, color, ethnicity, or language. Our approach is paying off, as African-American and Latino student achievement is better than in traditional public schools on any comparison, be it by state, by district, and particularly by neighborhood.

"This report compiles skewed and incomplete data that, in the authors' own words, is largely based on "assumptions" and "suggestions," and it neglects to take into consideration important factors, such as parental choice, the similarity of student populations between inner city charters and inner city traditional schools, and that charter schools intentionally locate in neighborhoods with the greatest need, a fact that we would hope champions of civil rights would celebrate, not condemn.

"Charter schools are about choice, not chance, a factor that the researchers completely ignored. Parents and students, who have lost faith in the system, CHOOSE to enroll in charters schools. Our growth over the past decade has been propelled by educators and parents who are themselves opening their own charters in both urban and rural areas because they believe charters will provide their children with better educational outcomes.

"The charter movement shares the goals of diverse schools and communities as a social good and we are working to ensure that our schools have greater diversity. But our first concern is on educational excellence wherever children in need may reside. Calling for states to prohibit the opening of Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) in inner cities--which have a proven track record for improving student achievement--will result in leaving students trapped in failing traditional schools. That is neither the solution nor the answer to achieve true education reform.

"Education reform is a monumental task. Our children get only one shot at a K-12 education, and what they learn will stay with them a lifetime. Charter schools don't promote a magic teaching method, but do strive to perfect a professional culture in which we--teachers, students, and parents--are all accountable.

"Our leaders--President Obama, Governor Schwarzenegger, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan--recognize that potential, as well as the innovation that charter schools bring to public education; the first purpose of American public education is to ensure that all children are provided with the opportunity and support to reach their full academic potential."

About the California Charter Schools Association

The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 809 charter public schools that educate more than 341,000 charter school students in the state of California. The mission of the California Charter Schools Association is to lead the charter public school movement in California in order to increase the number of students attending high-quality charter schools.

Note to Media: We invite you to pursue the story and interview members of the California Charter Schools Association. CCSA will fully support your needs for resources pertaining to the story.

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