December 2015 CEO Message
December 11, 2015 It feels great to be back! As predicted, while serving as Acting CEO, Myrna Castrejon led the organization with her traditional poise and passion. I'm incredibly grateful for her leadership while I took time to reflect on our progress and spend time with my family. I am so proud to be part of a movement that continues to gain strength and momentum, and always puts students and families first.
More than 50 charter school families and alumni, representing over a dozen charter schools throughout Los Angeles, rallied outside L.A. Unified headquarters in downtown L.A this month to demand more parent choice and better public schools across the city. The heartfelt stories of these families were captured by the LA School Report and La Opinion.
In the Bay Area, dozens of charter school parents, students and teachers successfully demanded that elected officials include charter school students in the $35 million in college scholarships provided by the "Richmond Promise." The win followed months of hard work by the charter school community advocating that, as public school students, charter students must be included in order for the scholarship program to truly be equitable.
Students, parents, teachers and alumni are the heart of our movement. And we recognize the importance of uniting their powerful voices to help grow and protect excellent charter schools across the state. In January, we will host events in Los Angeles and the Bay Area as we continue to engage, educate, support and build a sense of community among these critical charter supporters.
Charter schools provide families the unique educational opportunities they desire. How many students can say they attend a school that has an executive chef and sous chef? The students at Grimmway Academy can. Located in the Central Valley, Grimmway incorporates a blended learning model - from the edible schoolyard to the kitchen and the classroom - that allows students to apply their knowledge. And, Grimmway Academy is excelling academically, consistently outperforming other Arvin elementary schools.
We celebrate schools like Grimmway that are giving students the education they deserve. And while the debate about California's transition to a new accountability system continues, one thing is certain - charter schools have thrived because of uniform, robust and transparent performance standards. This clarity has created an environment where high performing charter schools flourish and chronically underperforming schools close.
While closing a school is a heavy decision, it is a far greater detriment for students to remain in a low-performing school. Using our accountability framework, we publicly called for non-renewal of two charter schools in November 2015, urging the authorizers to fulfill their responsibility to students by denying the charter renewals and moving for closure of these schools.
It is incumbent upon all of us to work together to establish an educational system that advocates for the needs of every student in California. And our work continues.
In January 2016, the Governor will release his proposed 2016-17 budget. We expect a busy legislative season in 2016 and a packed policy agenda. Stay tuned for more information, including ways you can get involved, coming in the New Year.
Also in 2016, our sister organization, CCSA Advocates, will continue to build upon its strong work to further the charter movement by electing pro-charter candidates at the state legislative level. Due to a new term limits law, we have a unique opportunity to effect long-lasting change in the state legislature. CCSA Advocates will also build upon recent successes at the local school board level in places like Los Angeles and Contra Costa, by engaging in school board elections across the state.
I look forward to 2016 with great hope and anticipation. Thank you for your continued commitment to the students of California. May this holiday season bring you peace and joy.
President and CEO
California Charter Schools Association
P.S. I hope to see you at The 23rd Annual California Charter Schools Conference in Long Beach, March 14-17, 2016. We will deliver timely and relevant charter school-related programming and a host of events to help you connect with your charter school colleagues. If you haven't done so already, register now with our Winter Registration rate.