Thousands Convene in San Diego to Celebrate 25 Years of Charter Public Schools "Making a Difference" in California's Public Education System at Annual Conference

March 25, 2018

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Caity Heim, CCSA

Thousands Convene in San Diego to Celebrate 25 Years of Charter Public Schools "Making a Difference" in California's Public Education System at Annual Conference

(San Diego, CA) - This week, March 26-28, 2018, thousands of charter public school teachers, leaders, and supporters are meeting at the San Diego Convention Center to attend the 25th Annual California Charter Schools Conference. The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) is proud to host this event in celebration of 25 years of charter public schools "Making a Difference" in the lives of students and families within California's public education system.

"Charter public schools play a critical role in strengthening California's public education system, as shown by our ever growing and thriving sector over the last 25 years," said Jed Wallace, president and CEO, CCSA. "This year's conference theme, Making a Difference, speaks to the enduring impact of charter public schools - now serving more than 630,000 students attending 1,275 charter public schools in communities across the state. We've got a great line up at this year's conference, including a panel discussion led by some of our strongest women charter public school leaders, and we will hear from renowned speakers and student advocates - Geoffrey Canada and Paul Tough."

This year, attendees will have an opportunity to hear from the following notable speakers:

MONDAY, MARCH 26, 2018

Opening Plenary Session: 1:30-2:45 p.m.
San Diego Convention Center (111 W. Harbor Dr.), Ballroom 20

Geoffrey Canada, nationally known bestselling author, children's advocate, and founder of Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ), will present the opening keynote address during the opening plenary session. Canada has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and as a passionate advocate for education reform. The work of Canada and the HCZ has been featured on 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Nightline and NPR's "On Point," as well as in articles in The New York Times, USA Today, and Newsday.

"Society has held onto a set of beliefs about how to run our public education system that hasn't helped our young people reach their fullest potential. We must act quickly to revamp our public education system to improve all public schools; our children's futures depend on it," said Canada. "I am proud of California's charter public school movement for its ability to adapt and change to the needs of our nation's children. They have helped spearhead comprehensive, creative, community-approaches to improving public education for all students, particularly those plagued by generational poverty, helping them to break the cycle. California's charter public school system is pushing the innovation envelope and leveraging accountability and data to drive instructional solutions that get students on the path to success in school and in life."


Tuesday Morning Plenary Session: 8-9 a.m.
San Diego Convention Center, Ballroom 20

JedWallace_Photo CreditLisa Smiley Photography, Sacramento, CA.jpg

Jed Wallace, president and CEO, CCSA, will present the keynote address during the morning plenary session. Under his leadership, CCSA now advocates on behalf of more charter schools and charter school students than any other state in the nation.

25th Anniversary Plenary Session: 4:45-7 p.m.
San Diego Convention Center, Room 20A

A panel - comprised of several dynamic women charter leaders from Northern and Southern California who represent various school types with students from diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds - will highlight the difference-making power of charter schools. The panelists will discuss the diversity of our movement through school types, models and theoretical approaches to education as well as where the sector's been, where it is now and where it is headed in the next 25 years.

Dr. Margaret Fortune, CEO of Fortune School of Education
Fortune will moderate this panel discussion. She is the incoming board chair for CCSA, and former education advisor to two California Governors. She is known for her leadership in California's charter public school movement, including her efforts to close the African American achievement gap, to increase educational opportunities for those interested in earning their teaching credential and school administrator license, and to increase access to college for high school students.

Dr. Jody Graf, executive director for Visions in Education
Graf has made a deep impact in the charter public school movement over the last 20 years of her service at elementary and middle schools within San Juan Unified School District. Most notably, she has made a difference for independent study charter public schools, serving currently as the Executive Director for Visions in Education, and President of the California Consortium of Independent Study Schools.

Yvette King-Berg, executive director for Youth Policy Institute King-Berg has worked in education for over thirty years in various capacities, including as former Vice President of School Development and Outreach, Southern California for CCSA. She is known for her research about parental involvement in the classroom and her impact on public schools in Pasadena, Los Angeles Unified School District and across the state.

Sue Park, head of Yu Ming Charter School Park has played a major role in the education of charter public school students throughout the state, working currently as head of Yu Ming Charter School in Oakland, and prior to that at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy in Los Angeles and Camino Nuevo in Burlingame. Her work to develop innovative curriculum and comprehensive continuums of support for her students has helped thousands of charter public school students achieve success.

Frances Teso, founder and CEO of Voices College-Bound Language Academies Throughout Teso's career in education, she has focused on the development of incredible educators for our state's public school system. She is known for the development of a transformational model for staff development, and her acceptance into the prestigious New Leaders for New School principal training program. Her work to support educators has rippled into the lives of charter public school students who are fortunate to be taught by the leaders she's helped blossom.


Closing Plenary Session: 2:45-3 p.m.
San Diego Convention Center, Ballroom 20

Paul Tough, bestselling author of "How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character" and "Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why" will present the keynote during the closing plenary session. Tough is known for his work challenging the belief that intelligence, measured by test scores, is the sole predictor of how well a child will do in school and in life. He is a contributing writer and editor at The New York Times Magazine, where he has written extensively about education, parenting, poverty, and politics. His writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, GQ, and Esquire, and on the op-ed page of The New York Times. Tough has also worked as an editor at Harper's Magazine and as a reporter and producer for the public-radio program "This American Life." He was the founding editor of Open Letters, an online magazine.

Additional Information:

  • Over 630,000 students attend an estimated 1,275 charter schools in California.
  • 3,000+ conference attendees.
  • More than 160 conference breakout sessions, 57 expo presentations/posters, and more than 300 exhibiting companies.
  • Charter schools are public schools. They are tuition-free and serve all students. Across the state, charter schools are excelling academically.

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About the 25th Annual California Charter Schools Conference
The California Charter Schools Conference inspires academic excellence, operational integrity and unity among charter schools throughout California. The conference is presented by the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA). For more information, please visit

About the California Charter Schools Association
The California Charter Schools Association's vision is to increase student learning by growing the number of families choosing high quality charter public schools so that no child is denied the right to a great public education. Our mission is to ensure a million students attend charter public schools by 2022, with charter public schools outperforming non-charter public schools on every measure. We do this by serving as the advocacy organization that builds the policy environment needed to grow as quickly as possible the number of students attending high quality charter public schools. For more information, please visit our website at