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December 7, 2012
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Poll shows increased levels of awareness and support for charter schools in California

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. - The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) announced 109 charter schools opened across the state for the 2012-13 school year, surpassing last year's new charter school openings (100) and bringing the total number of charter schools in California to 1,065. In addition, enrollment grew by 70,000 students, or 17 percent, for a total of more than 484,000 students in charters. California maintained its position as the state in the nation with the highest number of charter schools and charter school students.

"In this year when we are celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the charter school movement in California, we are seeing the movement experience another spike in momentum as parents and communities across the state turn to charter schools in ever greater numbers ... it is inspiring to see the resourcefulness and partnership that parents, community leaders and charter school operators are showing to expand quality charter school options in spite of all the obstacles," said Jed Wallace, president and CEO of CCSA. "As this broader embrace of charter schools is occurring in communities across our state, we see that California voters have increasingly high levels of awareness and support for charter schools and consider charter schools a bright spot in public education."

This school year, Los Angeles County had the largest charter school growth with 40 new charters, followed by 12 new charters in Sonoma County, 10 in San Diego County, and six Alameda County.

Despite this unprecedented level of growth, it is estimated more than 70,000 students were on charter school waiting lists across the state for the 2011-12 school year, indicating more families would chose the charter public school option if there was sufficient space to serve them.

While parents are demanding public school choice, California voters indicated record levels of awareness and support in CCSA's statewide poll.* Key takeaways from the poll included:

• In 2012, 49.3 percent of respondents strongly or somewhat favor charter schools, up from 47.2 percent the year before, 42 percent two years ago and 35.9 percent three years ago.

• In 2012, 67.6 percent of respondents know quite a bit or something about charter schools, up from 67.3 percent last year, 50.8 percent two years ago and 48 percent three years ago.

• In 2012, 59.6 percent of respondents gave an A or B to charter schools and 59.1 percent to California teachers while 32.6 percent gave an A or B to non-charter schools (public schools) and 34.6 percent to teachers unions.

• When asked if they were a school board member would they vote for or against expanding the number of charter public schools or the number of students served by charter public schools in their community, respondents overwhelming indicated they would vote to expand charters (60.1 percent would vote to expand; 21.9 percent would vote against expansion; and 18.1 percent were undecided).

• When told that this year marks the 20th anniversary of charter public schools, by a ratio of 3:1 respondents said that charter schools were a "bright spot" rather than a "disappointment."

* CCSA's statewide public opinion poll was conducted by Val Smith Ph.D with SmithJohnson Research using the enhanced voter file in August 2012. The sample size was weighted to 800 statewide completed interviews. The sampling error was less than +/- 3.47 percent 800 sample (95 percent confidence level).

About the California Charter Schools Association

The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 1,065 charter public schools and more than 484,000 students in the state of California. The vision of the California Charter Schools Association is to usher in a new era in public education so all students attend independent, innovative, accountable schools of choice. The mission of the California Charter Schools Association is to influence the legislative and policy environments, leverage collective advocacy, and provide resources to support our members in developing and operating high quality, charter schools reflective of California's student population. For more information, please visit www.calcharters.org.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Dec 7, 2012 04:05PM Published Dec 7, 2012 04:04PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.