By Jed Wallace, California Charter Schools Association
The Los Angeles School Board’s decision (August 25, 2009) to support a competitive process for the management of 50 new schools as well as an undetermined number of existing underperforming schools is historic for the charter movement. Successful charters will now have the opportunity to expand their services in traditionally underserved areas.
LA families will now have greater choice with a minimum of 60,000 high quality education seats being created. And the charter movement will have an unprecedented opportunity to share more broadly the tremendous contribution of charters to our state’s education reform efforts.
There can be no question that the participation of charters in this initiative will greatly improve the quality of education being offered to Los Angeles’ students. In a matched comparison CCSA conducted, of the 16 charter organizations (representing more than 70 charters) that have already indicated an interest in participating in the process, 70% outperformed their three nearest district schools in both English Language Arts and mathematics; 89% of the charters outperformed two of their nearest district schools. We also know from previous research that charters in LA outperform LAUSD schools in several areas, particularly African American student achievement.
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The efforts leading to this decision clearly demonstrate the potential for the California charter movement. The extraordinary collaboration among charter leaders, community organizations such as Families that Can and Parent Revolution, community leaders, and parents seeking choice, showed us what we can achieve when working together.
Going forward, a CCSA representative and our general counsel will serve on a taskforce to work through the challenging legal and collective bargaining issues that remain. We will certainly keep the national community abreast of the developments that emerge.
CCSA was proud to contribute to this historic moment for the California charter movement in collaboration with our members and community.
Jed Wallace is President and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) www.myschool.org