January 2012 Message to Members from Jed Wallace

January 18, 2012

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Dear Members:

Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were good ones.

2012 has certainly gotten off to a strong start with the Governor releasing a proposed budget containing several important wins for charter schools. We also had a number of favorable decisions at the State Board of Education this month, and we have on the docket plans for some of the largest charter school rallies to have ever occurred in California. And to top it all off, we are preparing our final plans for the 19th Annual California Charter Schools Conference, which promises to be yet another terrific event. When you add that all up, it's easy to see that the year has started in a manner befitting the fact that 2012 is the 20th anniversary of California's charter school movement. Here's to another terrific year of working together to advance charter schools even further in support of improving educational opportunities for all of California's students.

As many already know, California is recognized to be the birthplace of many of the nation's strongest charter school organizations, and many are now being actively recruited to open schools in other states. The fact that California charter schools are being wooed to other parts of the country is only more evidence that our state's movement is seen as having the capacity to offer quality education to even larger numbers of students. At the same time, the fact that many California operators are actively exploring growth elsewhere is a sign that California's charter school funding and policy environment is not remaining competitive with other states that are more fully embracing the hope that charter schools represent.

I recently visited a school that, while still a relatively young organization, has established a strong track record and is being approached to open schools in several other states. During my visit, I had the chance to hear directly from the school's leadership how needlessly difficult it is for a quality operator to secure approval to open additional sites. Comparatively, the process is much more streamlined and straightforward in other states, which are providing common sense facilities solutions for quality operators as well as the startup and other funding needed to deliver great results. This discussion and others like it make the choice very clear: If we wish to keep California's charter schools focused on improving public education within our state, together we are going to have to secure the advocacy breakthroughs in facilities, funding and quality authorizing that are needed to keep California at the forefront nationally.

Fortunately, we see that our members and supporters understand the critical need to improve the policy environment for charter schools. We see the Brown Administration working hard to support charter schools. We see that various communications efforts such as the video efforts undertaken by CCSA are helping generate ever-higher levels of awareness and support for charter schools among the general public. And we see that parents, teachers and students are getting involved in rallies such as those planned in the coming months for Los Angeles and Sacramento to demonstrate that our movement simply will not be held back. Continuing to work together in this way, I am fully confident we can achieve the policy breakthroughs needed to make the third decade of California's charter school movement the most remarkable yet.

Jed Wallace
President and CEO
California Charter Schools Association

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