November 2015 CEO Message

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November 16, 2015 Year after year, we see parents demanding high quality school choices for their students. This year is no exception.

An estimated 581,100 students are enrolled in charter public schools across the state for the 2015-16 school year. An additional 80 new charter schools opened their doors, bringing the total number of charter schools in California to 1,230. And California remains the state with the greatest number of charter public schools, and the most students enrolled in charter schools, anywhere in the country. Visit our website for more information and downloadable resources.

Families seek charter schools as they learn charter school students are doing better in school. We believe that increased and ongoing accountability plays a big part in the growth and success of our movement. And while there is ongoing debate about the new state accountability system, there is one thing that is certain - the charter school movement has thrived because of uniform, transparent and clear minimum performance standards. This clarity has created an environment where high performing charter schools flourish and chronically underperforming schools close.

As California transitions to a new accountability system, CCSA is moving forward in our accountability efforts with the public call for non-renewal of two chronically underperforming charter public schools. Oasis Charter Public School in Monterey County and Century Academy for Excellence in Los Angeles County are among the lowest performing schools in the state. They have not demonstrated substantial growth over time, and have consistently ranked near the bottom of state and local measures of academic performance.

We understand that closing a school is a heavy decision and is difficult for families, but keeping students in schools that are not providing the education they deserve is far worse. Read more about our announcement.

While our movement continues to gain strength and momentum, due in large part to our accountability to the students we serve, there is still an overwhelming unmet need for quality schools. More than 158,000 students linger on charter school waitlists across the state. Policymakers, charter school leaders, community members and other stakeholders need to work together to address the urgent needs of our growing community of charter school parents and students.

Improving the policy environment for charter schools is a step towards ensuring we are better able to meet the increasing demand of parents. One way we are addressing this need is through our Capitol Advocacy Leaders (CAL) and Local Advocacy Leaders (LAL) programs. The CAL and LAL programs pair up charter school leaders with legislators or school board members in order to cultivate relationships and engage them on legislation or board items that impact charter schools. During the third annual Capitol Advocacy Leaders Seminar in October, CALs and LALs learned how they can best advocate on behalf of charter schools, and help develop the pipeline of elected officials who support charter schools.

Each of you can make a difference in the Capitol. Thanks to 500 charter school supporters that sent opposition letters on AB 787 (Hernandez), Governor Brown vetoed the bill on October 10.

As we begin a new legislative cycle, I encourage you to help educate policymakers and other community leaders about charter schools. Share theĀ Truth About Charters and help dispel common myths. Take advantage of the sharable resources available on our website, including this fact sheet. Feature the Charter Voices of school leaders, teachers, parents and community members sharing their transforming experiences. Together, these websites have yielded over 1 million impressions and 100,000 video views.

Our personal stories are powerful tools to reach others, like this story of a teacher returning to her alma matter. Let's take advantage of every opportunity to share the truth about charter schools.

It has been my distinct honor and pleasure to serve as Acting CEO for the past four months, and continue to nurture the momentum and urgency that is our movement's hallmark. We have much to celebrate and be optimistic about this year. And as we near the season of thankfulness, may we be ever mindful of the privilege we have to serve our communities, and the calling we honor every day by making education a place of joy, success and opportunity for our students and their families.

Adelante!

Myrna Castrejon
Acting CEO
California Charter Schools Association