January was a busy month for California charter school families, with CCSA Families hosting two Summits – one in L.A., one in the Bay Area – that empowered hundreds of parents to be stronger advocates for kids and for charter schools. Charter parents, along with students and alumni, learned more about what makes charter schools different, how well they perform academically, and how collective action by the charter community – especially at crucial advocacy moments – helps our schools continue to thrive. Participants also got to meet other charter families in their region and strengthen their connection to the growing movement. Both events were filled to capacity and CCSA Families can’t wait to bring parents together again!
Recognizing that access to elected officials is crucial for education advocacy, a group of Oakland parents met with the office of their local senator, Lori Hancock. The parents shared stories about some of the outstanding work underway at their charter schools, Community School for Creative Education and Lighthouse Community Charter School, and explained how their children have benefited by attending the schools. They were encouraged when Hancock’s aide, Isabel Cortes, said that the senator supports all types of quality public schools, whether charter or district. Meetings like this help remind politicians that parents are watching and urging them to support school choice and a better public education system for all students.
Welcome to the new digital home of CCSA Families! Check it out and please share it with other charter school parents. Want to volunteer? Send a message to your local politicians urging them to support charters? Find out what our vision is for public education in California? You can do all of that and more here at www.ccsafamilies.org. Be sure to watch our new video too!
And drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you think.
CCSA’s fourth annual “Portrait of the Movement” tells the story of the large and diverse California charter schools movement now serving a half million public school students and growing every year while making significant improvements in academic performance. Take a look.
A month after the school year began, Maria was deeply frustrated that Lincoln Elementary – a traditional district school in West Contra Costa – still hadn’t found a teacher for her son Javier’s bilingual class. The substitute teacher, who was not a bilingual instructor, wasn’t cutting it. Maria turned to Yannell Selman, a parent organizer for CCSA Families, for help finding a charter school for her son.
But Yannell decided to help Maria address the issue at her school. Maria gathered a dozen mothers in her home and, working with Yannell, they decided to raise the issue together at the next school board meeting. They spent a few days preparing to make their case. On the day of the meeting, more than 15 families, including several children, plus two teachers, called on the board to find a permanent, credentialed teacher for the third grade class. By the end of the meeting, the district staff were practically tripping over themselves to help the families.
The very next day, 45 families gathered at the school ready to hear the district’s plan. Amazingly, the district had found a full-time teacher less than 24 hours after the families had demanded action from the board. The Richmond Confidential, the local newspaper, wrote an amazing story about the parent victory.
Now, these Lincoln moms are ready to continue advocating for better schools. They have formed a strong team; they know change is possible and they are ready to make it happen in West Contra Costa.
“For the first time in my life, I feel I can make a truly educated vote for school board members!” That’s what Abby Cole, a charter school parent, said after a forum for the five candidates running for the San Juan Unified School District school board.
Cole and parents from 10 charter schools attended a public forum earlier this month organized by parents at Golden Valley Charter School and CCSA Families organizer Joanne Ahola. The idea is to ensure that community members are following the November 4th school board election. Cole says she has already learned a lot about the candidates’ opinions on key education issues, including if and how they’ll support high-performing charter schools.
Are you following your local school board race? Charter schools have a lot to gain or lose in races across the state. Please vote on November 4th. Find out where the candidates in your area stand on charter school issues by visiting our sister organization, CCSA Advocates.
They started lining up the night before the school board meeting. Parents at some of L.A.’s leading charter schools assembled on the sidewalk outside the district’s downtown headquarters. Knowing the next day’s board meeting would be packed, they went the extra mile by camping out all night to make sure they would make it into the meeting to show their support for their schools.
The next day, October 14, 2014, the school board voted on whether to renew charters run by Alliance, Aspire, Camino Nuevo, Crown Prep and New Village. More than 300 parents, clad in colorful school t-shirts, packed the board room, waiting to make their case to the board.
They didn’t have to say a word. Their presence said it all. The board voted to approve all seven schools. Parents cheered, hugged, high-fived and then went back to their families, at ease knowing that their children would continue to attend the excellent schools they’d chosen.
A school community deserves a home. But West Contra Costa Unified officials wants Caliber Beta Academy to divide its classrooms among two or three campuses – instead of a single location. So parents at the elementary school, which serves mostly Latino, African American and low-income students, are trying to change hearts and minds.
Earlier this month, nearly 200 parents gathered at a school board meeting to ask for a permanent facility for Caliber Beta Academy. Their efforts garnered coverage in the local newspaper. Parents have also been writing letters and meeting individually with board members to voice their concerns. In the coming weeks, district officials will make a decision. Whatever happens, these parents have proudly advocated for their kids and their charter school!
Families in Southeast L.A. were disappointed last year when the school board prevented Valiente College Preparatory Charter School from opening its doors, purely because of politics. But instead of giving up, they fought back. So earlier this month, when Valiente founder Jacob Wertz asked the L.A. County Board of Education to approve the school, families and students were right beside him. They made it clear that the community wants a new charter school that will hold students to high standards and help them graduate ready for college and career.
And guess what? They succeeded. The County gave Valiente the green light to open this fall. Check out this news story on Telemundo, whose cameras were on hand to cover Valiente’s victory. Go families!
If you’re a parent in Richmond who’s interested in charter schools, chances are you spent February 7th at Parent Choice Weekend. The event drew more than 500 people, including representatives from every one of the area’s 11 charter schools. Folks learned about their education options and also enjoyed a series of student performances. More than a dozen community organizations that provide tutoring, after school activities and other enrichment opportunities were on hand as well. It was a great chance for families to get to know their local charter schools – and each other too!
Charter schools are improving the quality of American education in major cities. That’s according to a huge national study just released by the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University. It found that many urban charter schools are providing “superior academic learning for their students, in many cases quite dramatically better.” The study also found positive results for nearly all student subgroups, especially for students who are minority and in poverty.
While this news isn’t surprising to charter school parents, it’s an exciting addition to the growing library of independent research confirming what parents already know – that charter schools are helping to deliver on the promise of a great public education.
Read more about the CREDO report.
This month’s school board election at L.A. Unified sent several candidates into a runoff. The school board has the power to approve or deny charter schools, so there’s a lot at stake for the thousands of parents whose children attend more than 285 charter schools in L.A. Unified. The runoff election is May 19th.
Do you know who you’re voting for? Visit CCSA Advocates to learn where the candidates stand on our schools and how you can get involved. And if you’re not registered to vote, take two minutes and register online. It’s easy.
Legislators in Sacramento are being pressured to pass new laws that will hinder charter school independence and effectiveness. So far, they’ve only heard from special interests. Now they need to hear from you. Please take a minute to sign this petition opposing Assembly Bill 787, which would take away the independence of charter schools across California.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks and watch for emails inviting you to share your voice, stand up for charter schools, and tell lawmakers not to create new laws that get in the way of charter school success.
Watch this great CBS News story on Granada Hills Charter High School’s amazing victory in the National Academic Decathlon, where they beat out more than 2,500 other schools. Many of the students on the team are the children of immigrants. Congratulations to all!
“Special Education in California Charter Schools: All Students Welcome,” a new report by CCSA, challenges the notion that charter public schools serve fewer students with disabilities than traditional schools. Read the report and get the facts!
An L.A. music education advocate, a grassroots power couple from Redwood City and others were honored at CCSA’s 22nd annual conference in Sacramento. Read the announcement and find out more about some of the most inspiring leaders in the California charter school community.
Congratulations and thank you to all of the charter school families who contacted your state representatives, urging them to support two new legislative bills that support charter school facilities and blended learning programs. Both AB 1198 (Dababneh) and AB 1426 (Levine) recently passed out of the Assembly Education Committee and will move forward in the legislative process. The charter community will continue to rally around legislation like this that will enrich the educational experience of the more than 550,000 California charter students.
Every public school graduate in Richmond will qualify for between $1,000 and $4,000 in college tuition aid. It’s called the “Richmond Promise” and it’s a great idea, except that it excludes students who choose to attend charter schools. Charter families are deeply upset. And they’re doing something about it.
“Charter schools are being demonized,” charter mom Tana Monteiro told the West Contra Costa Times. “The kids who go to charter schools are Richmond kids, and many are poor and need that money…”
Charter school parents are coming out in full force to a series of community meetings with city officials, urging them to provide all public school students with the financial help they need to go to college. Bravo to charter supporters for speaking out and demanding equity for all kids.
Earlier this year, parents gathered in front of the Washington Unified School District Board of Trustees to tell their stories and ask for approval for the new Lighthouse Charter School in West Sacramento. They were thrilled when the board approved the school.
But then the real work began: telling the rest of the community about the school, so that parents knew there was a new educational option for their kids. Since then, parents have been volunteering to spread the word, visiting food truck events, helping to build a new park, talking to folks at the local farmer’s market, passing out flyers, and knocking on doors. There’s nothing quite like the energy of parents starting a school from the ground up!
Charter school parents and graduates from across Los Angeles held a press conference this week demanding great public schools in every zip code. Standing on the steps of L.A. Unified headquarters, charter families shared poignant tales of how charter schools have changed their lives, including students with special needs who were neglected at other schools. In English and Spanish, charter families called on the school board to put politics aside and expand schools that are working so that every neighborhood has great schools. It was a powerful event that yielded media coverage in LA School Report and La Opinion. Charter families in L.A. will continue to advocate for great school options for all students!