Newly formed Sacramento Charter Families Federation off to a great start

Representing 10 schools, within three school districts, the newly formed Sacramento Charter Families Federation strives to give a face to charter school students and families, with the goal of showcasing the exceptional efforts of charter schools statewide to legislators, city officials, school board members, and the communities they serve. As more schools and families learn about the Federation, there has been a growing interest.

During the first half of the year, parents met with Education Committee members in both the state Senate and Assembly. The focus was to demonstrate the negative impact that SB 808 would have on our schools and to promote the efforts of Assemblymember Blanca Rubio’s bill AB 950.

Members of the Federation also joined many families from all over California to testify before the Senate and Assembly. They attended town hall meetings and informal meetups with local legislators to build relationships that will benefit charter schools and students. Most recently, Lighthouse Charter School in West Sacramento gave Senator Richard Pan a tour of their school.

If you live in the Sacramento region and are interested in attending the next meeting, please contact CCSA Parent Organizers for the Capital Region, Tracy Ikemire at tikemire@ccsa.org or Adolfo Mercado at amercado@ccsa.org.

 

Want elected officials to visit your school? Let students do the ask

A group of fourth grade Golden Valley Orchard School advocates is feeling confident after speaking to San Juan School Board members during a packed school board meeting recently. After hearing other students give reports on how their schools were doing, this group of charter school students decided to do the same and began strategizing on how to build a relationship with board members.

The students wrote their own scripts and delivered handmade notes to the superintendent and school board members inviting them to their festive May Day celebration. This resulted in San Juan School Board President Michael McKibbin visiting the school and demonstrating to the students the power of their activism.

 

Charter parents ask for fair funding at Huntington Park Town Hall

At a recent town hall meeting attended by 200 enthusiastic parents, funding inequities in Southeast Los Angeles schools and recent changes to immigration policies were the biggest topics of discussion.

Great Public Schools Now (GPSN) Director Myrna Castrejón gave a presentation and laid out evidence of school funding inequities in southeast LA public schools, both traditional and charter. The non-profit is dedicated to ensuring all students in LA receive a high-quality education by accelerating the growth of high-quality public schools. About 15 parents gave personal testimony of how their children are suffering under the current system.

LAUSD Board Member Ref Rodriguez responded by asking parents to act and fight back against the state legislature and LAUSD’s implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). He promised to meet with families again in June.

 

Fired-up parents turn up in Sac and LA to delay “Charter Killer” SB 808

SB 808, a destructive bill nicknamed “charter killer” that would limit approval of charter schools, was riling parents up and down around the state. In Sacramento, 85 parents spent two days lobbying against the bill, introduced by Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia.Parents eager to speak out against it lined up during the Senate Education Committee hearings at the Capital to offer their testimony. They told heartfelt stories of how their children’s lives were being transformed by their charter school. In LA, more than two dozen parents met with Mendoza and made an impassioned plea to demand that he drop the bill.

Finally, after weeks from parents badgering Mendoza, the senator decided to not immediately pursue SB 808 and it was not put up for a vote during the education hearing.

Oakland Town Hall Meeting Connects Charter Parents with Politicians

Charter school parents and students recently hosted a town hall meeting at Oakland Unity High School to discuss the policy issues that affect them and their schools. They met with elected officials including Oakland Unified board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge, who talked to parents about the importance of participating in advocacy on behalf of their kids.

A representative for Assemblyman Rob Bonta answered questions from the attendees about legislation that could impact charter schools, and parents scheduled a meeting with Bonta himself for next month. It was a great opportunity for charter parents to learn more about the inner workings of education policy and politics and to press their representatives to support charter families.

Granada Hills Charter Wins 6th California Academic Decathlon

It’s another year and another win for Granada Hills Charter High School, which recently secured its sixth victory in the California Academic Decathlon. After a tough, multi-day contest in Sacramento, the school scored 55,211 out of 60,000 possible points, surpassing every other school. Watch ABC News’ coverage of Granada Hills’ victory!

This year’s topic was World War II and any subject related to it, including economics, language, literature, math, music and social science, was fair game. The contest entails team members taking written tests, being interviewed and giving prepared and impromptu speeches. There are three divisions based on the ranking of a student’s grade point average and the highest-scoring in each were from the charter school.

A nearby L.A. charter school, El Camino Real Charter High, came in second place. Granada Hills will represent California and pursue the state’s fifteenth consecutive U.S. title at the nationals next month.

Meet the Charter Parent Volunteer of the Year!

Jorge Corona, a champion of the local charter school movement in Huntington Park outside Los Angeles, was honored this month with the 2017 Hart Vision Award for Volunteer of the Year. Corona, a parent at Aspire Antonio Maria Lugo Charter Academy, was recognized by the California Charter Schools Association during its annual conference not only for his own advocacy, but also for inspiring other families to get involved in the fight for high quality charter public schools.

“Everything that we do is for them, for the children,” said Corona, during his acceptance speech. “The fight isn’t over. We continue to fight for more schools, for more families to have the opportunity to be in these great schools.”

Watch the video tribute to Jorge! And then watch Jorge’s acceptance speech!

San Jose Parents Push for New Charter School

It should have been a no-brainer. ACE, which operates Inspire Academy and Franklin McKinley Middle School, asked the San Jose Unified School District to approve a new high school. The schools are tremendously popular with parents, who’ve spent weeks phone banking, generating support and awareness for the proposed charter high school.

But district officials still questioned whether there was “meaningful interest” in the school.

Families stood their ground. After ACE founder Greg Lippman addressed the board, he invited all who were present in support of the school to stand. Suddenly, a sea of yellow flags emerged from around the board chambers. Lippman ceded the floor to mom Elizabeth Molina, who gave a heartfelt speech in support of the new high school on behalf of her child and all the children in her community. Parents cheered her on, demonstrating their passion and defending their right to a quality education in their community.

Ultimately, the district told ACE to revise aspects of its petition, so the fight is not yet over. ACE plans to submit a revised petition in late March. ACE families will return to the board to show support for the new school. Go charter parents!

Parents and Educators Tell NAACP Why Charters Are Essential

Months after their call for a moratorium on charter schools was rebuked in communities across the country, the NAACP came to Los Angeles to take a deeper look at charters in California. Not surprisingly, charter school leaders and families didn’t waste the opportunity to push back.

During the NAACP’s special hearing, which is part of a national “listening tour” on charters, charter supporters jumped at the chance to share their stories about the importance of charter schools in their communities. Charter parents, students, teachers and leaders also gathered for a press conference whose speakers included Margaret Fortune, the CEO of Fortune Schools; Shirley Ford, a charter parent and co-founder of Parent Revolution; Carmen Taylor-Jones, President of the National Council of Negro Women; Danielle Lowe, a principal College Bridge Academy; and several charter students and alumni.

It was a day of passionate speeches and unity, with everyone determined to tell the true story of charter schools. Congratulations and thank you to all those who participated!

Charter Rally Draws More Than 1,000 Supporters!

Gloomy, wet weather didn’t dampen the spirits of more than 1,100 parents, students, charter school alumni, and community leaders who marched one and a half miles through downtown to Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights.

“Parents and their children need reassurance that their rights will be preserved and that they will not have to be subject to low-performing schools just because of their zip code,” charter parent Clara Ordonez told the crowd.

The “My Child, My Choice” march brought 20 charter schools from L.A.’s “eastside” together. The event celebrated the success of local charters and affirmed the tremendous demand from parents for high quality educational options.  Featured speakers included LAUSD board member Monica Garcia, Myrna Castrejon, the CEO of Great Public Schools Now; Ana Ponce, who leads Camino Nuevo Charter Academy; and several charter alumni and parents.

Check out LA School Report’s coverage of the march.

You’re Invited to Bay Area Parent Summit

Join charter school parents and leaders at the CCSA Families Summit in Oakland on February 4. Participants from across the region will learn about issues facing our charter schools and build collective power across the Bay Area.

There will be opportunities to build relationships with other members of the charter community in the Bay Area, attend trainings on how you can best advocate for charter education, and create a plan for a region-wide community action in March. The Summit is being organized in collaboration with parent and youth organizers.

To register, click here.

Charter Graduates Give Back and Get Involved

Many charter school graduates go on to do great things. A group of more than a dozen charter alumni have chosen to give back in a powerful way: by inviting current charter high school students to become advocates for the charter movement.

The new program organized with help from CCSA Families creates opportunities for charter alumni to identify key policy issues facing charter schools and then work to engage charter students on those issues. The top issues identified by charter alumni so far include ensuring access to equitable facilities, sharing best practices, and startup funding. The program is underway in Southern California and the Bay Area.

For more information, contact Alan Ratliff: aratliff@ccsa.org

Charter Parents Share Immigration Stories

At times, the parent book club meeting at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy‘s Burlington campus in Los Angeles felt like a group therapy session.

That’s because the book – a nonfiction story about 19 Mexican immigrants who died while trying to cross the border in Texas 14 years ago – hit close to home. Many of the charter school’s book club parents are undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

In Spanish, one mother recounted her border crossing from Mexico. She said that when nearing the San Diego freeway, the eight members of her group – her mother and sisters – resembled a duck and her ducklings. With tears streaming down her face, she expressed gratitude for having safely reached her new home with her family. Another mother recalled certain details: getting only one bottle of water per day, a treacherous desert passage with little food, traveling by night.

“We didn’t come here because we wanted to,” she told fellow book club members in Spanish. “We came here because we needed to. We come for the American Dream but sometimes what we pay for it is very costly.”

“This story is so connected to our families,” said Susana Interiano, the school’s student and family services coordinator who facilitates the book club.

Besides sharing some difficult stories from their past, the moms expressed their love for the United States and their pride that their children are receiving a high quality education.

The California Charter Schools Association has signed Stand for Children’s letter urging continued federal support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects undocumented students. CCSA will continue to advocate for the tens of thousands of immigrant families in our charter school community.

Dozens of Charter School Champions Win Seats in Elections

Thanks in part to the hard work of charter school families and other volunteers, many candidates who support charter schools were elected to school boards, county boards of education and the state legislature in November. Charter-friendly ballot initiatives also fared well at the ballot box. For more information, please check out our sister organization CCSA Advocates’ website at www.ccsaadvocates.org.

Charter School Students Join Walkout After Presidential Election

In response to the election of Donald Trump and the rhetoric surrounding his campaign, hundreds of students at several charter and traditional schools gathered at Los Angeles City Hall one week after the election. The students talked about why they felt it was important that their voices be heard, expressed concerns about Trump’s divisive rhetoric, and shared their hope that he would respect all children and all people.

Los Angeles Families Host Candidate Forum

Charter school families from the San Fernando Valley hosted a lively forum last month featuring candidates running for the LAUSD Board of Education in District 6. Five candidates shared their views on charter schools, choice and other education issues. More than 150 parents attended the event at PUC Triumph Charter Academy. Afterwards, many of the attendees personally met with the candidates. Families are hosting events in several regions around Los Angeles prior to the primary election on March 7, 2017. Congrats to families for getting involved in an election that will impact all students in L.A.!

Vote for Props 55 and 58 to Help All Students

On election day, please vote for two important measures on the ballot – Propositions 55 and 58 – that will have a direct impact on the lives of thousands of students. The California Charter Schools Association has endorsed both propositions.

Proposition 55 will stabilize per pupil funding levels and serve as a safeguard against potential future cuts to California’s K-12 public education system for years to come.

Proposition 58 will support bilingual education by extending flexibility to all educators, thereby providing parents greater options that best suit the needs of their children when enrolling them in language acquisition programs. There is growing support for dual-language immersion programs as effective models for helping limited English proficient students.

Families Host Candidate Forums in Bay Area

Charter school families hosted two candidate forums in Oakland Unified School District and San Francisco Unified School Districts this fall, providing them with a chance to hear directly from aspiring school board members about how they will improve public education and support charter schools.

Both events were led by parents, who participated in planning meetings before the event to develop the forum program. They also conducted outreach to other parents at their schools by encouraging them to attend. The forum was facilitated by parents and students, who served as moderators. Candidates were asked tough questions about charter schools and shared their personal stories through testimonials.

Read more about the OUSD forum in this Oakland North article.

200 Parents Tell City Officials: Let Charters Grow

What if your community had plenty of schools, but not enough great ones? That’s the question that parents in Huntington Park, a small city on the outskirts of Los Angeles County, face. Their answer: invite more charter schools into the community.

But city officials in Huntington Park want to do the opposite. In fact, this month they proposed a “moratorium” on new charter schools.

Families responded. A few weeks after hundreds of families testified at a city council meeting, hundreds more parents held a press conference outside City Hall to speak out against the proposal. Top L.A. media outlets such as the LA Times, Telemundo, Univision, and Hoy covered the rally, where parents shared the difference charter schools have made in their children’s lives, making it clear they were willing to fight for access to a quality education.

Brenda Najera proudly talked about how her daughter is being sought after by college recruiters and she credited her daughter’s charter school in Huntington Park as being the reason why.

“I don’t cry tears of sadness anymore, but rather tears of emotion because charter schools have given my kids an opportunity,” she told attendees at the rally.

Unfortunately the Huntington Park City Council members voted 4 to 1 to extend the moratorium on new charter schools until September 2017. But parents have vowed to keep fighting, with help from CCSA Families and the California Charter Schools Association, which is exploring legal solutions.

Are You Registered to Vote?

Picking the next president isn’t the only important decision voters will make in November. From school board and senate races to local bonds, depending on where you live, you could have several important choices to make at the ballot box that will help shape the future of public education.

But first you need to be registered to vote! Are you? It only takes a minute or two. Click here to do it.

Once you’ve registered, please read up. For information on the candidates and issues, please visit the website of our sister organization, CCSA Advocates.

Oakland Families Keep Pushing for Fair Funding for Charters

For the second month in a row, the Oakland charter community gathered at the Oakland Unified school board meeting to demand equitable funding for charter schools. More than 100 charter supporters filled the board room, and 22 parents and students told the board to include charters in Measure G, a parcel tax meant to fund all public schools.

A very special thanks to Aspire Public Schools and Roses in Concrete Community School for their incredible turnout at the meeting. The Oakland charter family will continue its push for equitable funding for all kids.

3,000 Families “Rally in the Valley” for Charter Schools!

What an event! Around 3,000 families and educators from northeast San Fernando Valley charter schools marched in support of expanding high quality schools, securing better facilities and protecting parent choice in public education at last Saturday’s “Rally in the Valley.”

Charter parents, leaders, teachers and graduates from schools including Vaughn Next Century Learning Center, Fenton Public Schools, PUC, YPI Charter Schools and Pacoima Charter shared the message that charters are changing lives and they are essential to improving public education in Los Angeles.  Elected officials in attendance included Congressman Tony Cardenas, Assemblywoman Patty Lopez, Assembly Candidate Raul Bocanegra Board Members Monica Ratliff and Monica Garcia, representatives from Board Member Ref Rodriguez, and several candidates running for school board.

Check out some of the great news coverage of the rally at Fox 11UnivisionDaily News and LA School Report. And check out some amazing photos of the event. Thanks to all of the families who gathered to show their love for charters!

A Mom’s Perspective on School Choice

No one understands the importance of being able to choose the right public school for your child more than parents. L.A. mom Monica Luna Gonzales recently wrote about this issue, sharing powerful insights based on her own experiences both as a student and as a mother.

Check out her piece at La Comadre, a website that collects inspiring stories written exclusively by women about their experiences with and hopes for public education.

L.A. Families: Join Us at the “Rally in the Valley”

It began nearly 25 years ago. And now it’s time to celebrate success.

California’s first charter school opened in Pacoima, in Los Angeles’ Northeast San Fernando Valley, in 1993. Now the area is home to one of the highest performing and most close-knit charter school communities in the state.

On Saturday, September 17, more than 2,500 charter families will assemble for the “Rally in the Valley,” a celebration of charter schools’ academic success and growth. We can’t wait to share the photos with you next month!

Want to join us at the event? Contact us at rallyinthevalley@ccsa.org.

Oakland Families Demand Fair Funding for Charters

More than 60 charter school parents, students, teachers and leaders gathered at this month’s Oakland Unified school board meeting and delivered a clear message: all Oakland public school students deserve fair and equal funding.

Parents and students testified to the impact and unfairness of being denied funding from Measure G, which was passed by Oakland voters in 2008 to help all public schools. Charter students, unfortunately, have been excluded. Funding from Measure G, which amounts to around $20 million this year, would provide much-need support to charter students by helping their schools increase teacher salaries, purchase textbooks, keeping class sizes small and prepare students for college. 

If you’re not in Oakland but you want to support families there, sign the petition over at CCSA Advocates, our sister organization.

This fall, families will keep pressing the OUSD board to do right by all students and include charters in Measure G. Keep it up, families!

Harvard-Bound

When they enrolled their son Chris in Camino Nuevo Charter Academy as a kindergartener, the Romeros probably wouldn’t have bet that he’d eventually receive acceptance letters from 13 elite universities, including Yale, Dartmouth and MIT. But this spring, that’s exactly what happened to this first-generation American.

Chris chose Harvard, which he’ll begin attending this fall. He plans to major in molecular biology to prepare for a career as a pediatric cardiologist.

He credits Camino Nuevo with providing him with the support, encouragement and rigorous academic training that he needed to reach such heights. Watch this video and learn more about Chris’ incredible story!

Newspaper Profiles Charter Grad Headed to Princeton

His mother works at a sewing shop. In middle school, his grades were bad. But four years later, Jordy Rodriguez is headed to Princeton University with a full scholarship. “It’s something I never thought I could achieve,” he told La Opinion, which recently featured a story on Rodriguez’s academic success.

Jordy was one of just 6% students accepted to the Ivy League institution to this year. It’s an especially remarkable achievement, given that Jordy once struggled academically. He told La Opinion that “everything changed” when he found Green Dot’s Animo Pat Brown Charter High School in Los Angeles. Read more about Jordy’s inspiring personal and academic transformation.

Oakland Charter Hosts Voter Registration Drive

Oakland’s Community School for Creative Education was the site of a voter registration drive, where CCSA Families and charter leaders and parents teamed up to make sure folks are registered to vote. Elected officials and lawmakers shape the education policies governing charter schools, so charter advocates are committed to getting charter supporters involved in the political process.

Nearly 200 Families Fight for New Charter Facility

Caliber: Beta Academy is growing and they’ve found a great site owned by West Contra Costa Unified. As the school board considers whether to sell the site to Caliber, 183 parents recently packed the house at the school board meeting and explained how the property would help their charter school thrive. Such a huge turnout demonstrated the passion that charter families have for their school, leaders and teachers! Parents will keep pushing for the district to help their school grow.

San Juan Parents Advocate for Fair Charter Funding

Charter schools are public schools. But still, some school districts are reluctant to provide charters with the same level of funding as traditional schools. Parents in San Juan want to make sure their district doesn’t make that mistake.

A few weeks ago, charter families spoke at the San Juan Unified board meeting and urged the board to include charters in the bond that is being drafted for the November ballot. They made a powerful case that charters deserve to be included alongside district schools, as they are an essential partner in providing a high quality education in the community.

Charter parents will continue to monitor the bond’s development and respond accordingly.

Report: Charters Send More Kids to College

Great news for California charter students: college is in your future.

A new report shows that charter schools are helping increase access to college for thousands of historically disadvantaged youth in California, including minority, low income and first-generation college-going students.

CCSA’s “A Step Up: How Charter Schools Provide Higher Levels of California Public University Access” gathers data from California public universities and finds that by creating a college-going culture, charter schools are providing all students, regardless of background, access to higher education.

Find out more here.

SoCal Parents Engage Their Communities

Charter parents aren’t just active parents, they’re engaged community members. Need proof?

Hundreds of New Vision Academy parents and residents in San Bernadino turned out for the Community and Family Barbecue earlier this month. The event included 15 nonprofit vendors, delicious southern cooking and much more, helping to build community among families.

Also this month, a couple of hours away in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, 40 parents from Oscar De La Hoya Charter School partnered with 25 community groups to hold a buzzing health and wellness fair. By sharing tips and tools on how to stay healthy, the event united families to address the important issues facing them.

CCSA Families loves helping communities come together!

Parents Help Defeat Anti-Charter Bill

Charter parents throughout California showed their political power earlier this month, when they helped stop a proposed piece of anti-charter legislation from becoming law. How? They went right to the source of the bill, Pacoima Assemblymember Patty Lopez, and told her it was bad policy that would cripple the governance abilities of too many charter schools.

After parents met with Lopez’s staff in the Capitol and expressed their concerns, Lopez agreed to personally meet with the parents in Pacoima. The parents rallied additional parents for the face-to-face meeting with their legislator; at the meeting, they urged her not to move forward with the AB 2242. And guess what? Lopez listened and dropped the bill, promising to find a way to achieve her legislative goals without harming charters.

This is the power of parent advocacy. Go charter families!

L.A. Charter Families Get Their WISH

When one of Los Angeles’ most celebrated charter elementary and middle schools, known for its racial diversity and unique program for students with special needs, seeks approval to create a high school, you’d think it would be a no-brainer.

It wasn’t.

Despite its strong academic performance and groundbreaking educational model that places even the most severely disabled students in the same classroom as their peers, WISH Charter School’s application was recommended for denial by the school district. Even the school board president, Steve Zimmer, who has praised WISH as a model charter school, was ready to deny the school’s proposal.

But parents and students didn’t give up. They packed the L.A. Unified board room and, one after another, shared the invaluable impact that WISH has had on their lives. They appealed to board members’ minds and hearts. After a long and tense discussion, with families in the audience hanging on every word, the school board voted to approve WISH’s high school. The room exploded in applause and tears. Congratulations WISH families on your powerful and successful advocacy!

Richmond Parents’ Latest Effort: Charter School Facilities

Richmond charter school families have proven to be a powerful advocacy force. Recently, they won a long battle to ensure that all public school students will share in the city’s $35 million college scholarship program. They’ve also rallied to defeat statewide anti-charter legislation and built bridges with community leaders.

Their latest effort involves protecting charter schools’ right to find and develop facilities. Securing space and developing it is already one of the biggest challenges facing charter schools across California. But instead of helping charters overcome this challenge, Richmond city officials are exploring regulations that would make it even more difficult for charters to develop facilities.

In response, dozens of charter parents recently gathered at the Richmond Planning Commission to challenge the proposed zoning laws, which would cost charters time and money that should be spend in the classroom instead. They told the commission why charters need support as they seek to expand and improve their facilities to serve students in need. Richmond families will continue to pressure city officials to partner with charters instead of hinder them. Stay tuned.

Meet an Award-Winning Charter Mom and Advocate

She helped start two middle schools. She fought for all public school students to receive equal access to college scholarship funding. She lobbied her representative in Sacramento to oppose anti-charter legislation. And she’s a mom.

It’s easy to see why Tomasa Espinoza was honored as Volunteer of the Year at the California Charter Schools Association’s annual conference last month in Long Beach. A charter school parent in Richmond, Tomasa is the living embodiment of what it means to be an advocate for kids. She is relentless yet warm, determined yet patient. “She’s taught me about leadership and how to motivate others to take action,” says Yannell Selman, a parent organizing director at CCSA.

Watch this touching video about Tomasa’s advocacy on behalf of families. Thank you Tomasa for everything that you do!

L.A. Parents Help Charter Get Renewed

Their day began at 5:30 am. Parents and students from PUC Excel charter school lined up outside the L.A. Unified headquarters to make sure they would get into the board meeting that afternoon. More than 12 hours later, the families finally got the chance to testify before the school board as it prepared to vote on whether to renew PUC Excel’s charter.

The passionate speeches showed how deeply parents and students, as well as teachers and administrators, value their charter school. From academics to culture, families told the school board what makes PUC Excel so special.

Finally, after some intense discussion, the board voted to renew the charter. It was an emotional victory, with tears and hugs, as families celebrated the school that has found a place in their hearts. Bravo to PUC parents and students for passionately supporting and protecting your charter school!

West Contra Costa Parents Explore School Options

Parents and students got the chance to explore their educational options at the second annual West Contra Costa Education Fair in Richmond earlier this month. About 100 families visited the Nevin Community Center, where staff from most of the area’s charter schools, as well as school district staff, shared information about local schools. The event included a performance by student violinists from Benito Juarez Charter School. Parents were very excited to learn that they have a variety of educational opportunities in their community. CCSA Families was honored to be part of the event.

Help Fight the Anti-Charter Ballot Initiative

You may have heard that a small anti-charter group has begun an effort to shut down all charter schools in California. The group, which has been spreading lies about charters, is gathering signatures in support of the “Elimination of Charter Schools” initiative, hoping to get it on the California ballot in November. We don’t know if they’ll succeed, but the odds are against them.

Nonetheless, many charter parents are eager to get involved and speak out on behalf of the charter community. If you’re interested, check out this page on CCSA’s website, which includes an online advocacy toolkit that you can use. Help us fight back against the propaganda and defend charter students, parents and teachers across California!

Summits Bring Charter Parents Together

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!

Oakland Parents Engage With Elected Officials

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.

CCSA Families Launches New Website and Video!

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 families@ccsa.org and let us know what you think.

West Contra Costa Parents Demand Better – and Get It!

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.

San Juan Parents Organize School Board Candidate Forum

“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.

L.A. Parents Help Charter Schools Get Renewed

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.

Charter Families Advocate for Permanent Home

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 Triumph with New 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!

Parent Choice Weekend Draws 500 Attendees

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!