CCSA Celebrates 20th Anniversary of California Charter Schools Across the State

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October 15, 2012 Chico, Fresno, Oakland, San Jose and San Diego hosted more than 1,000 students, parents, charter leaders, elected officials and community supporters during several exciting celebrations. Each event highlighted different aspects of the charter school movement but were united in one core message: all students should receive a high quality education in California.

Fresno area charter schools, local leaders, parents and students celebrated the 20th Anniversary by holding a rally and launching an awareness campaign for families on September 19 at Valley Preparatory Academy Charter School. Fresno County Superintendent Larry Powell was the featured speaker. The rally was the unofficial launch of a media and communications campaign on Central Valley charters in partnership with the Fresno County Office of Education and the United Way of Fresno County.

In Chico, the crowd overflowed to a beautiful outdoor patio during the Butte County Charter Leaders 20th Anniversary Reception on October 9. Principals, parents, teachers and board members from charter schools throughout the county mingled and recalled touching memories from school. During a short speaking program, Assemblymember Dan Louge's representative presented a Legislative Certificate of Recognition marking the 20th Anniversary of the Charter Schools Act to Casey Taylor, CCSA Region 2 Member Council Representative and principal at Achieve Charter School of Paradise. Tim Taylor, Butte County Superintendent of Schools, spoke about his vision for continued collaboration between charter schools and the county office. CCSA CEO, Jed Wallace, rounded out the program by reflecting on how far the movement has come - now serving more than 450,000 students statewide - and encourage attendees to seek ways to grow and improve all public schools by sharing innovative practices with traditional schools in the region.


Jed Wallace and San Jose Superintendent Xavier De La Torre

San Jose kicked off a celebratory weekend on October 12 by bringing community leaders and elected officials together to highlight the importance of working together. San Jose area leaders including San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools Xavier De La Torre joined local charter school leaders and People of Acting in Community Together (PACT) parents, The San Jose Charter School Consortium and supporters in a community action meeting.

Parent leaders urged public officials to recommit to the collaborative San Jose 2020 (SJ2020) initiative, co-chaired by Mayor Reed and Superintendent De La Torre, aimed at closing the achievement gap for the 40,000 students below grade level in San Jose. Charter school "Spotlight on Success" tours showcased several schools, visited by parents and local leaders, preceding the community action meeting. CCSA CEO Jed Wallace toured Alpha: Blanca Alvarado Middle School (6-8).


Oakland Presenters and Staff: Left to Right in Photo: Emcee Chinaka Hodge, Performer Parris Moore, Speaker & Oakland Unity High School Alum Livier Perez, CCSA Staff Ainya Long

The Oakland charter community made a bold statement on October 13 with CCSA's first major Oakland effort with a focus on bringing the entire community together. Oakland alumni, parents, and current students celebrated with a community rally and information expo at Preservation Park on October 13. Poet Chinaka Hodge, emceed and jump started the event.

Heart-felt testimonials about the importance and impact of charter schools from Lazear Charter Academy parent Olga Galaviz, Oakland Unity High School Livier Perez, and community leaders Noel Gallo, Oakland Unified School District Board Member and Jorge Lopez, executive director, Amethod Public Schools (Oakland Charter Academy and Oakland Charter High School) captivated the crowd. Performing artist Parris Moore brought the crowd to their feet as well as students onto the stage with two amazing performances. The Getback Band also provided entertainment.


Oakland Charter School Expo

The community expo featuring 20 schools, gave the community the opportunity to engage directly with many charter schools. Oakland currently has 40 charter schools, serving over 12,000 students. Approximately 25% of Oakland's public school students attend charter schools.

Also, on October 13 in sunny San Diego, more than 600 students, parents, teachers and leaders from San Diego charter schools joined together in Balboa Park to hear inspiring stories from a current student as well as a charter school graduate, parent and school leader about how charter schools had transformed their lives, family and community.


Student performers energizing the San Diego participants

Student performers energizing the San Diego participants

Student performances from hip hop to cheerleaders entertained the crowd as well as a friendly competition to determine which school had the most attendees. San Diego Unified School board member Richard Barrera and CCSA President & CEO Jed Wallace shared important information about the history of the movement, as well as two key ballot initiatives this November, the statewide Proposition 30 and local Proposition Z, San Diego Unified School District's facilities bond.

A sense of community, collective voice and celebration were felt by all who attended. Following the event several schools held picnics for their families and staff while others enjoyed an afternoon at the museums and other attractions at Balboa Park. San Diego Unified is the second largest school district in California. This school year, San Diego County has 104 charter schools, 49 of them operating within San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). There are over 55,000 charter students in San Diego County, and over 19,000 in SDUSD.

CCSA officially launched the 20th Anniversary of the charter school movement August 21 at a news conference held at San Carlos Charter Learning Center, the oldest operating charter school in the U.S.

In the fall of 1992, Governor Pete Wilson signed SB 1446, better known as the Charter Schools Act, making California the second state to formally establish the creation of charter schools. The charter movement has transformed public education, and heralded in an era in which parents and communities can create schools of choice for their children and have greater flexibility and richer learning environments in exchange for added accountability. This year, California has over 1,000 charter schools and over 450,000 students, the most of any other state in the U.S. Charter schools are tuition-free public schools of choice that are open and serve all students.

Stay tuned and check the event calendar for upcoming celebrations in Los Angeles and Sacramento in 2013!

Read our press releases and news coverage about the 20th Anniversary celebrations: