20th Annual California Charter Schools Conference Pays Tribute with Legacy Awards: Charter School Operators, Supporters, Funders and Elected Officials are Honored

March 12, 2013

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Contact: Vicki Grenz
(916) 949-9659

SAN DIEGO, California (Mar 12, 2013)--"In marking twenty years of the California charter movement, it is fitting that we acknowledge those whose extraordinary contributions have sustained this movement and continue to move us forward," said Jed Wallace, President and Chief Executive Officer of California Charter Schools Association. "Through our Legacy Awards, we celebrate the leadership of a few key players whose hard work and tenacity has made this all possible."

CCSA Legacy Awards recognize 30 distinguished awardees in four categories--charter school operators, supporters, funders and elected officials. These categories emphasize that the unique strength of California's charter school sector is born of the diversity we have within our charter school community.

"California is strong because we have had a unique set of support providers - among them back office providers, advocacy partners, legal experts who help our educators address the myriad of challenges associated with operating great schools; funders, who have generously provided the resources needed to catalyze growth and excellence; and uniquely committed policy makers who have both founded and operated schools and then used that deep knowledge to inform their policy decisions once in office," noted Wallace.

The first two awards remember the inspired efforts of two pioneers of the movement who are no longer with us--Sue Bragato and Brian Bennett.

Working with a few dozen others, Sue Bragato, helped to create California's first charter school, the San Carlos Charter Learning Center in 1993. When the school was launched she immediately recognized that for this fledgling charter movement to succeed, she needed to develop a support organization for charter operators. Sue started the first-ever charter school organization, the California Network of Educational Charters or CANEC in 1993. Not long after, she started the country's pioneering charter school conference, which became the model for the National Conference and for every other state conference in the country. Sue worked with legislators and charter supporters to develop charter laws in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Colorado, Alaska, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and others.

Brian Bennett left his mark on the civil rights struggle, Catholic education and school choice initiatives. Brian held firm to the belief that education is the key to a better world and he saw a quality education as a matter of civil rights. Brian believed charter schools give parents from poor neighborhoods with failing schools a chance at getting a quality education for their children. Brian was the force behind the development of more than a dozen charter public schools including the launch of some of the earliest charter schools in California after the Legislature authorized them in 1992.

Operators--California operators are inspirational and dedicated leaders who have consistently proven that all children can learn at the highest levels and, despite the challenges that face public schools. Reflecting the diversity of charters that exist in California - geography, of students served, and of school type - CCSA's Legacy Award for Operators underscores that this movement is truly about diversity and inclusiveness:

Mary Bixby, Founder and President at Altus Institute - A Network of Charter Schools (San Diego, CA)
Judy Burton, Alliance College Ready Public Schools (Los Angeles, CA)
Yvonne Chan, Vaughn Next Century Learning Center (Pacoima, CA)
Jackie Elliot, Partnerships to Uplift Communities (PUC) (Los Angeles, CA)
Ref Rodriguez, Partners for Developing Futures and PUC(Los Angeles, CA)
Gene and Sandra Fisher, Watts Learning Center (Los Angeles, CA)
Pat Golding, Hickman Community Charter Schools (Hickman/Fresno Area, CA)
David Patterson, Board Member, Placer County Board of Education and Superintendent/Executive Director with Athlos Academies, and founder and executive director emeritus Rocklin Academy Family of Schools (Rocklin/Placer County, CA)
Rick Pierce, The Lewis Center for Educational Research (Apple Valley/Inland Empire, CA)
Ana Ponce, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (Los Angeles, CA)
Larry Rosenstock, High Tech High (Los Angeles, CA)
Don Shalvey, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and previously, Aspire Public Schools (Palo Alto, Oakland, Berkeley, Empire, Modesto, Stockton, Sacramento and Los Angeles, CA)
Irene Sumida and Joe Lucente, Fenton Charter Public Schools (Lakeview Terrace/Los Angeles, CA)
Ting Sun and Charlie Leo, Natomas Charter School (Sacramento, CA)
Johnathan Williams, Accelerated School Community of Schools (Los Angeles, CA)

Charter School Supporters--The California charter movement has been fortunate to be galvanized by remarkable support organizations and their leaders that both get schools started and help to keep them running efficiently: • Vicki Barber, the El Dorado County Office of Education
Anita Landecker, ExEd
Paul Minney, the Law Offices of Minney, Young and Corr
Ted Mitchell, CEO of the New Schools Venture Fund
Eric Premak, the Charter School Development Center
Caprice Young, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation

Funders--California has been supported at high levels by an incredible group of funders. The resources they provide have sustained the movement through strategic and varied investments in schools and supporting advocacy at the local, state and federal levels. The Legacy Awards are in appreciation for their ongoing investment in our work and our children: • Eli and Edythe Broad
The Family of Doris and Donald Fisher
Bill and Melinda Gates
Michael and Susan Dell
Mr. Reed Hastings
The Walton Family

Elected Officials - California is fortunate to be home to two elected officials who not only opened charter schools but who also on a daily basis advocate for our movement; one is serving at the local level as a Mayor and the other is the highest-ranking official in the state: Governor Jerry Brown and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. CCSA's Legacy Award celebrates the commitment of Governor Brown and Mayor Johnson who generously invested their time creating innovative programs for kids and their communities.

The Legacy Awards were presented at the California Charter Schools Association's 20th anniversary conference held March 12-14, 2013 in San Diego. For a detailed schedule of other sessions or events, please visit http://www.charterconference.org/2013/program/.

About the CCSA Conference The California Charter Schools Conference has run annually for 20 years, offering resources, guidance, and advocacy support to a charter school movement that has grown to more than 1,000 schools serving 484,000 students. More than 220 exhibiting companies will be on hand, promoting resources to support charter schools.

About the California Charter Schools Association
The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 1,063 charter public schools and more than 484,000 students in the state of California. The Vision of the California Charter Schools Association is to empower parents and educators to unleash a new era of innovation within public education so that highly autonomous and accountable schools of choice provide quality learning opportunities for all California students. For more information, please visit www.ccsa.org.