Posts by Jed Wallace


Jed Wallace


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California Charter Schools Association Responds to LA Times Oped on Public Education

Following the publication of an opinion editorial in the Los Angeles Times that directs a series of unfounded criticisms at public charter schools, Jed Wallace, president and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association wrote the following response:

Today the Los Angeles Times posted an op-ed written by Diane Ravitch in which she espouses the same incendiary messages we’ve heard from her before. Repeating the same messages over and over again doesn’t make them true. Ravitch accuses charter schools of excluding students, but the data here in Los Angeles says otherwise. Independent charters in LAUSD serve 1 percent more English learners and 2 percent fewer students with special needs than traditional schools do. In other words, there’s basically no difference in the students being served. It’s also worth noting that both English learners and students with special needs perform better in local independent charters than in traditional schools.

Ravitch laments charter schools’ lack of accountability, but charter schools are held to greater accountability standards than other public schools. How? Each charter school has to petition for renewal every five years; if it has failed to perform, it gets shut down. No other type of public school has to prove that it is actually helping students learn.

Ravitch also complains that charter schools have influence in Sacramento. Meanwhile, the California Teachers Association has long been the single most powerful and well-funded lobby in the Capitol by any measure. Ravitch’s rhetoric is forceful, but it’s not grounded in fact.

Even worse, Ravitch demonizes parents who exercise their right to choose the best education for their children. Ravitch seems to suggest that charter school students are traitors or second class citizens, and she seems intent on punishing them for seeking out learning environments that meet their needs.

Does LAUSD need a superintendent who shares Ravitch’s polarizing, politicized views? No. LAUSD needs a superintendent who will advocate for all students, regardless of the type of public school they choose to attend. 

Jed Wallace


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California Charter Schools Association Calls for Closure of Six Schools Due to Academic Underperformance

Today, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) called for the closure of six charter schools from across California that are below CCSA’s Minimum Criteria for Renewal. Four of the schools are up for renewal by their authorizer this year and two of the schools were renewed despite chronic low performance and have failed to improve.

Accountability continues to be one of our top priorities, and we remain driven by a relentless focus on the pursuit of quality education for every student as a constant tenet in all of our efforts. The basic promise of public charter schools is that greater autonomy and flexibility are given in exchange for increased accountability. We are serious about delivering on this promise.

Earlier this year, the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University released a study indicating there has been encouraging improvement in charter school performance nationwide over the past four years. The most important thing we can do to continue this growth and support charter school quality is to make sure that underperforming schools are closed.

Our own analysis of performance, the CCSA Minimum Criteria for Renewal, reinforces the view held by CREDO. Over the past five years we have seen a significant improvement in the overall performance of charter schools in California, with the percentage of high-performing schools increasing modestly and the percentage of low-performing schools decreasing by approximately one third. We do not think it would have been possible to make this progress, without CCSA and its members assertively holding underperforming schools accountable.

CCSA is committed to creating better learning opportunities than are available within the traditional school system. That means not only supporting the growth of high-performing schools, but also shining a light on those charter schools that are not providing a high-quality education. In so doing, our movement reaffirms its commitment to the transparency and accountability that we believe parents and the general public wish to see in place for all public schools and deserve.

We first called publicly for the non-renewal of chronically low-performing schools in 2011. Last year, we joined the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and statewide associations in New York and Colorado to take this call for the closure of low-performing schools to the national level.

Together, these steps will ensure charter schools in California and elsewhere maintain a high level of accountability in order to continue playing a transformational role for students for many years to come.

Jed Wallace is the president and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association. 

Jed Wallace


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Charters provide choices parents didn’t have (excerpt)

The op-ed excerpted below originally ran in the L.A. Times on August 30, 2012.

It is simply absurd to suggest, as anAug. 28 Times article summarizes a study as reporting, that California charter schools are “placing an ever-greater burden on taxpayers, who must fund an already strained public education system.”

The fact is parents (whom economist Richard Buddin, the report’s author, seems to forget are the very taxpayers he is so worried about) are choosing the best educational opportunity for their children.  Twenty years ago, that choice was between a traditional public school and a private school. But thanks to the efforts of parents, teachers and community leaders across this state, parents today have another choice: public charter schools.

Further, to suggest that all students who come from private schools are “of means” is out of touch. Many families make financial sacrifices to ensure their kids are getting the best education possible, which for some has meant private school. Rather than assigning blame for this trend of students returning to public education, we should be celebrating that charter schools are helping to restore confidence in the public school system.

As is widely recognized, charter schools receive less funding per student than traditional public schools. And by and large, charter schools operate in facilities that have not been provided by the state. Were it not for the existence of the charter school movement, the taxpayers of California would have had to contribute far more funding to public schools over the last 20 years — billions more than any amount cited in the study…

Please click here to read the full op-ed.

Jed Wallace is president and chief executive of the California Charter Schools Association.

Jed Wallace


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5,000+ Charter School Parents Rally in Los Angeles

On Feb. 4, charter school parents, students and teachers from more than 100 schools across Los Angeles rallied for “Schools We Can Believe In,” making this the biggest parent rally in LA history and possibly the biggest charter school rally ever anywhere in the country.

We showed the strength of the charter school movement, but more importantly, we showed the depth of our commitment to ensuring that all students have high-quality public schools in their communities. I was moved by the stories parents told of their own struggles to find a high-quality school in their neighborhoods and their incredible pride in their charter schools. As one our parent speakers said, “I want every family in LA to have what my family has – a great public school.”

We also heard from leaders like Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Board President and Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Parents spoke out to demand fairness in funding and facilities for all public school students, including charter public schools and to have a voice in their child’s education.

But perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the “Schools we Can Believe In” Rally was to help our own movement recognize its potential. We were able to see what is within our potential to unleash and to recognize our own unique position to play a catalytic role that could greatly improve educational opportunity for all of California’s students.

We did a statewide poll earlier this year and it showed us that the biggest predictor of whether someone will support charter schools is that person’s direct or indirect experience with charter schools. We have to invite elected officials to visit our schools and to meet the amazing parents and students and teachers like those that rallied this past Saturday and hear their incredible stories.

On Feb. 29, we will rally again, this time in our state capitol in conjunction with our 19th annual Charter Schools Conference to push for funding equity for charter schools and the students they serve.

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Jed Wallace


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CCSA’s “Portrait of the Movement” Report Gets National Recognition

NAPCS supports the work by the California Charter Schools Association, and others in the field, to advance the accountability of the public charter school sector. We encourage others to follow CCSA’s lead by setting high performance expectations for the public charter schools in your state.

This week, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) presented the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) with the “Award for Excellence in Advancing Knowledge” for the Portrait of the Movement report, the cornerstone of CCSA’s accountability work.

Accountability has been a top priority for CCSA for many years, and when we released the first Portrait of the Movement report last February, we did so knowing that the data would help the charter movement identify schools that we all can learn from, and those that need a second look.

Through this candid and comprehensive snapshot of peformance, CCSA is looking to raise the performance bar and to support the expansion of those charter schools that are having a high impact on their students’ futures.

Perhaps the most significant findings in the first annual Portrait of the Movement report were that California charter schools are accelerating the closure of the achievement gap between low-income and affluent students, and that charters serving low-income populations are generating better academic results than traditional public schools.  These results tell us that charters are successfully weakening the link between poverty and under-performance.  Yet there is work to be done.  Too many charters are also underperforming, and it is here where we are taking action.

Portrait of the Movement introduced a performance framework, which streamlines and improves upon the existing assessment system in order to strengthen academic accountability for underperforming charters. The Portrait of the Movement report plays an important role in advancing knowledge about the state’s charter schools, as the report features movement-wide analyses to aid efforts to assess, monitor and improve the academic performance of all charter schools, including tools schools can use directly to assess their strengths and weaknesses.

As a movement, we need to ensure that all students are getting the quality education they deserve, and need.  We cannot make improvements if we exempt charter schools that are not delivering or producing solid results.

CCSA aims to remain the preeminent source for California charter school performance data in order to inform strategic school support and advocacy at the state and local levels and will continue to publish an annual Portrait of the Movement.  Our next report is due in February 2012.

We are truly honored for this award, and we thank NACSA for their support.

NOTE:  NACSA’s annual Award for Excellence in Advancing Knowledge recognizes the authors of a scholarly report that thoughtfully examines critical issues within the charter sector.  Last year’s winner was the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools for How State Charter Laws Rank Against The New Model Public Charter School Law.

Jed Wallace


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Chartering The Course: California Charter Schools Show Narrowing of African American Student Achievement Gap

One of the most pressing issues of our time is the achievement gap between African American students and their White and Asian peers.  There is hope however for African American families in California that their children can find quality educational options to meet their needs.

This week, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) released the Chartering and Choice as an Achievement Gap-Closing Reform research report, which details the performance and enrollment trends of African American students in both charter public and traditional public schools.   The results show that African American students are enrolled at higher rates in charter public than traditional public schools at all grade levels, in some cases at close to twice the rate, and are experiencing better outcomes, in spite of having the same rates of parent education and student retention as their traditional public school peers.

In fact, charter public schools are effectively accelerating the performance of African American public school students, consistently earning higher Academic Performance Index (API) scores and proficiency rates statewide across subjects in many urban districts.

When using CCSA’s own performance metric, the Similar Students Measure (SSM),  which eliminates the impact of student background on performance, charter public schools serving African American students were more than three times as likely as traditional public schools to consistently outperform their predicted performance in a single year and over time.

And, while charters make up only 9% of schools statewide, they represent 39% of highly effective schools for African American students.

The report also features case studies of highly effective charter schools in three major areas:  Watts Learning Center in Los Angeles, KIPP Bridge in Oakland, and PS7 in Sacramento.  While different, their methodology and approach to serving their students had common denominators from which all public schools can learn.  In fact, most of the best practices implemented at these three charter schools have been well documented in scholarly literature, and are readily available.

As laboratories of innovation, California’s highly effective charter schools can demonstrate proven paths to success that should be replicated in all public schools, and at a national level.

To read the report, please visit

Jed Wallace


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California’s Portrait of the Movement – A Closer Look At Charter School Academic Performance

Education reform has taken center stage in many debates around the nation over the past couple of years, as parents, students and communities demand better educational outcomes for all students from public schools.

Generating those better outcomes while closing the achievement gap between low-income and affluent students is a daunting challenge but not an impossible one. Members of the California Charter Schools Association believe, like I do, that we must be relentless in our pursuit of ever-higher academic performance if charter schools are to contribute even more significantly to making high-performing schools a reality for every student in California.

For almost two decades, charter schools in California have offered parents, students and communities options for a better education.  Our state now has the largest concentration of charters in the country.  At 912 schools, we saw our most significant growth ever this school year, with 115 charters opening across the state.  But growth alone isn’t enough.

While we know the state has some of the best charter schools in the country, we are also aware that there are weaknesses within the movement.  That is why the California Charter Schools Association is taking unprecedented and proactive steps to ensure that all students attending charter schools are getting an education that will help them succeed as adults.

This week our first annual Portrait of the Movement report, which details the academic performance of charter schools, provides a framework to press for higher accountability for low-performing charters.  The report reveals reasons for great optimism in the areas where charter schools are excelling and for greater resolve in the areas where charter schools need to improve.

The most significant finding in Portrait of the Movement is that California charter schools are accelerating the closure of the achievement gap between low-income and affluent students.  This finding is supported with ample evidence that charter schools serving low-income populations are generating better academic results than traditional public schools serving students with similar demographics.

These results are cause for celebration, proving that charters are breaking the link between poverty and under-performance. For far too long, too many within our traditional public school system have believed that poverty and underperformance are inexorably linked and there is little schools can do to help students overcome the various social barriers they face.  This paralyzing belief – undergirded by a self-perpetuating view that only some students, and not all students, are actually able to learn at high levels – has been used by many as justification for the various objections they raise to proposed reforms of our public education system.  The performance of California’s charter schools – from classrooms in South Los Angeles to Oakland and San Diego to Sacramento – demonstrates that the possibility of transformational change is within our grasp if we have the courage to embrace reforms which serve the interests of students.

Another important finding with Portrait of the Movement is more charter schools are over-performing than under-performing, and that, in terms of numbers of students served, more than two times as many students attend over-performing than under-performing schools.  We are also encouraged to see that the number and proportion of under-performing charters appears to be decreasing over time.

With that said, the Portrait of the Movement also clearly reveals that there are simply too many underperforming charter schools and we must as a movement act with commensurate courage to improve academic accountability systems.

While current state law calls on charter authorizers—school districts, county offices of education, and the State Board of Education—to close schools that have not met minimum academic requirements, the process has not been a consistent one, and under-performing charters have slipped through the cracks.  CCSA is proactively working to close these loopholes and has established minimum performance criteria for charter renewal to ensure that charters are delivering on the promise of a high-quality education for all students in California,

In tandem with the release of Portrait of the Movement, CCSA is activating a series of Web-enabled tools to help families and the public understand the picture of performance for every single charter in California that opened before fall of 2010. An interactive map provides the public access to the performance record of all charter schools as well as all traditional public schools in their surrounding areas, giving families for the first time a highly detailed look of the options available to them based on a measure that renders a picture of added value.

For more information, visit

Submitted by Jed Wallace, President and CEO, California Charter Schools Association

Jed Wallace


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California Charter School Growth Ushers in New Public Education Era

This is a historic time for charter schools in California.  Despite tough economic times, charter supporters continue to turn their commitment into opportunities for thousands of students and families seeking more options in public education.

This school year, 115 new charter schools opened, marking the most significant growth since California approved its charter school Law in 1992.  This unparalleled growth pushed the state’s total number of charter schools to 912, the highest of any state in the nation.  Every major region, as well as both urban and rural areas, saw charter schools open.

For charter school leaders, this growth is encouraging and exciting, and we believe it is proof that a new era of public education has taken hold. This new era is one  in which parents, teachers and communities haven’t more flexibility and local control of schools  making them better at serving individual student’s needs.  It also means that we at the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) must do more than ever to advocate on behalf of charter schools, and continue our efforts to ensure equitable access of funding and facilities for public charter schools.  Accountability is another top priority at CCSA, and this growth underlines the need for a system in which high performing charter schools in which high performing charter schools are replicated, while low-performing ones undergo a deep review to determine if they are serving their student’s needs.

With this year’s newly opened schools, an even larger number of families in California will now have more options for high-quality education options for their students.