5,000+ L.A. Parents Demand Better Public Schools at the "Schools We Can Believe In" Rally

February 4, 2012

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For Immediate Release

Contact: Sierra Jenkins, CCSA
(213) 256-9489

PHOTOS: Media can download photos directly from the Families That Can Facebook page.

Parents Tell Elected Officials to Put Students First

LOS ANGELES, CA - On Saturday, Feb. 4, well over 5,000 parents, students and teachers from across Los Angeles joined education officials and leaders for the "Schools We Can Believe In" rally at Exposition Park, to demand high-quality public schools in every neighborhood, quality space and equal funding for all public school students.

After student performances from schools throughout Los Angeles, including Celerity dancers, the Gabriella Charter School Company Kids and the Granada Hills Charter High School Marching Band, a fantastic line-up of speakers made heartfelt pleas for public education.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke at the rally about his passion and commitment to improve public education, telling parents they play a critical role in improving public schools.

"Great schools will only come when parents are engaged and demand results," said LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "Every child in every neighborhood deserves access to an excellent education."

Currently, only 56% of students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) graduate from high school on time, and far too many are not prepared for a higher education.

"We have some great public schools in LA, but we don't have enough of them. Our children can't wait," said Corri Ravare, Executive Director of Families That Can, a statewide organization of charter school parents. "We the parents are here today to urge our elected representatives to put students first in every decision they make, and to treat all public schools equitably, particularly in these difficult times. Charter schools have been an important part of transforming our public schools in Los Angeles. However, we know there isn't a single solution to improving our schools - we all need to work together."

With over 1,000 public schools--including more than 200 charter schools--the Los Angeles Unified School District is the largest district in California, second largest in the nation following New York. Yet the precarious budget situation in the state over the past years has pushed the limits. Funding for public education in the Golden State dropped to a historic low late last year, according to a report by the California Budget Project, with California ranking 46th in the nation in per pupil spending.

"It is the responsibility of all educators in this City to ensure that every one of its students receives a quality education and graduates from high school college prepared and career ready," said Superintendent John Deasy. "At LAUSD, we are charting a bold course to achieve that goal, including school choice, performance management, and new tools to measure educator effectiveness."

Yolie Flores, Executive Director of Communities for Teaching Excellence and former LAUSD Board Member, joined in support of parents, highlighting the need for quality teachers in every classroom.

"Parents and students know their rights. They know that a quality education requires an effective teacher in every classroom," said Flores. "We're gathering on Saturday to demand better policies that ensure effective teaching so that every student can and will succeed."

"Our charter school was life-saving for our family," said Cindy Ruedas a parent at Community Charter High School. "I want every family in L.A. to have what my family has had - a great public school. Every student has a right to a good education."

The rally was coordinated by Families That Can, a statewide organization of charter school parents which is part of the California Charter Schools Association, in partnership with a wide range of community organizations, including the United Way, Families In Schools, Alliance for a Better Community, Communities for Teaching Excellence, EdVoice and Democrats for Education Reform.

About Families That Can

Families That Can is a statewide organization of charter school parents united to fight for high-quality public education choices and to be the voice for the children of California. Families that Can educates, empowers and mobilizes parents to hold our leaders accountable for ensuring every child has access to a high-quality public education. We advocate for quality public school choices, equitable treatment and resources for charter public schools, and the advancement and growth of successful charter schools. Find out more at www.familiesthatcan.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.ccsa.org.

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