May 2014 Message to Members from Jed Wallace

May 5, 2014

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National Charter Schools Week marks an important point of reflection for the charter movement annually. And this year, we have much to celebrate in California. Whether it's highlighting the growth of our charter community, the academic successes of our students, the strong parental demand for more schools, or applauding the extraordinary efforts of our charter teachers - we have plenty of good news to share.

Each year at this time, charter leaders, supporters, parents and students descend on Sacramento for Advocacy Day, to share their stories and convey the strength and growth of the charter school movement to their local legislators in the State Capitol. We're expecting over 300 charter supporters on May 7 to advocate on behalf of charter supportive policies that enable new schools to grow, thriving schools to replicate, and existing schools to continue their successful trajectory.

The charter community is a powerful force. We recently witnessed our collective ability in action, as we gathered to influence elected leaders and to make change happen to advance the charter movement.

On April 16, more than 75 charter leaders, parents, board members and students rallied in front of the offices of Assemblymembers Gonzalez and Weber to deliver a message on AB1531 (Chau). Charter parents and leaders wanted to thank Assemblymember Weber for her no vote on the bill and to share their concerns directly with Assemblymember Gonzalez regarding her yes vote. This bill was bad for kids and would've thwarted a core tenet of charter school independence by requiring school districts to select a majority of the nonprofit board members of a charter school.

If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to watch this video capturing the San Diego rally and press conference. Each time I watch it, I am again inspired by the passion and commitment of our charter parents and leaders on behalf of the students served by charters each day.

And I want to personally thank each of you for making your voice heard on this critical charter school legislation. On April 30, AB 1531 was moved to the Assembly Appropriations suspense file where we anticipate it will die.

Also on April 30 and because of your ability to mobilize and take action on an important piece of CCSA sponsored legislation, AB 2178 (Levine) made it out of the Assembly Education Committee with bipartisan support. This bill, authored by a democratic Assemblymember and intended to create a blended learning pilot program for the state in order to improve the adoption and implementation of this innovative method of instruction, now advances further through the legislative process.

This progress wouldn't be possible without our elected officials who show leadership in their support of charters. We join the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools in honoring and thanking two California 2014 Champions for Charters, Mayor Kevin Johnson and Congressman George Miller.

Our momentum never ceases to amaze me. Over 519,000 kids now attend 1,130 charter schools across the state. And with about 91,000 students currently on charter schools waitlists in California, we know that more families would choose the charter public school option if there were sufficient space to serve them. If you consider students who are on more than one waitlist in California, that number jumps to 164,000 students. And nationally, over 1 million students are on waitlists. Wow.

Our time is now. These last couple of months have proven that the demand for charter schools just gets stronger. And nothing is impossible when we work together collectively to ensure that no barrier prevents us from making good on our promise to provide a high quality charter public school education to all students in California.

Keep up the good fight!

Jed Wallace
President and CEO
California Charter Schools Association