CCSA Releases 2022 Portrait of the Movement Report Charters at 30: Reimagining Public Education

California Public School Students are Majority Latino and Low-Income, Charter Public School are Redefining College and Career Readiness

LONG BEACH, CA  Today, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) released a new statewide report, Charters at 30: Reimagining Public Education. The study examines the characteristics of charter public schools and their students; the unique ways charter public school educators prepare students for college, career, and life, and the diverse charter school models that offer families more education options to meet the unique needs of their child.

The report is part of an annual series produced by CCSA called Portrait of the Movement (POM). The POM report was released with an online conversation hosted by CCSA President and CEO Myrna Castrejón at the annual California Charter Schools Conference in Long Beach, where charter supporters are also celebrating the 30th anniversary of the passage of the 1992 California Charter Schools Act.

“The pandemic laid bare the disparities that have long existed in public education. We cannot return to ‘business as usual’ with an education system that was clearly not supporting all California students – particularly those in underserved communities,” said Ms. Castrejón. “As we look ahead, we now know that more students benefit from a public education system that also evolves to meet their ever-changing needs. Just as charter public schools harnessed their autonomy and flexibility to adapt to rapidly changing and traumatic circumstances during the pandemic, they can help lead the way in strengthening public education with evidence-based practices.”

Charters at 30: Reimagining Public Education provides an analysis of California’s charter school movement and finds that roughly one in 11 students now attend a charter public school, and that most charter school students are low-income and/or Latino. Additionally, many parents are considering charters for their child’s education because they continue to reimagine public education by offering specialized school models that help the most struggling students succeed.

“This report describes three ways that charter public schools are reimagining public education to meet their students’ unique needs, whether it is through cutting edge school models, the creative use of data, or simply by providing students with an excellent education, charter public schools featured in this report provide hope during an incredibly difficult time for educators,” said Jennie Kress, the POM’s lead author. 

Key Findings in the POM report include:

  • Charter public schools are reimagining education through specialized school models that vary by pedagogy and content focus area.
  • Charter public schools are redefining college and career readiness by looking beyond annual summative assessments and considering other important aspects of college/career preparation like practicing for the academic rigor of college, social-emotional wellbeing, financial literacy, career practice and goal setting.
  • “Rising Star” charter public schools are rethinking what is possible for students, especially those who have been historically underserved based on new student-growth data released by the California Department of Education. Four charter public schools were among the public schools in the state with the highest growth on state tests. Wonderful College Prep Academy, James Jordan Middle, Watts Learning Center Charter Middle, and Redwood Academy of Ukiah are all reimagining what is possible for their students.

Charters Reflect California’s Diversity:

Charter public schools serve a diverse population that resembles that of traditional public schools. According to CCSA’s research, the 2020-21 charter public school student population consisted of:

  • 57% Low-income
  • 52% Latino
  • 27% White
  • 14% English learners
  • 10% Students with disabilities
  • 7% Black

Charters at 30: How Charters Are Reimagining Public Education also finds that Latino families are increasingly choosing charter public schools for their child’s education and are increasingly well-represented among charter public school students – increasing by 5% over the past seven years.

Diverse Charter Academic School Models and Populations

The most common pedagogical model found in the research was “college ready.” However, many charters approach college preparation differently. Some charters are redefining college readiness by looking beyond common measures like test scores, graduation, and college going rates to ensure that students are not only prepared to enroll in college, but also to thrive socially, emotionally, and academically/professionally once they get there.


The POM provides educators and policy makers with recommendations including:

  • Consider multiple measures of school performance
  • Continue to learn from annual summative assessments
  • Identify and share best practices looking at “Rising Stars” schools

To download the report directly, click here. Media interested in requesting an interview about Charters at 30: Reimagining Public Education can contact

Charters at 30 Livestream Kickoff

CCSA is celebrating 30 years of charter public schools as part of a months-long celebration, Charters at 30: Reimagining Public Education. To kick off the campaign, CCSA President and CEO Myrna Castrejón was joined for a special program of reflection on the charter movement and looking ahead to the next 30 years. Special guests included:

  • Nina Rees, President and CEO of National Association of Charter Public Schools
  • Ember Reichgott Junge, former Minesotta State Senator and author of the 1991 Minnesota Charter Schools Law
  • Sue Burr, former Executive Director, State Board of Education
  • Eric Premack, Founding Director, Charter Schools Development Center
  • Shannon Doss, Green Dot Animo South Los Angeles Charter High School, Class of 2011

California Charter Schools Association Launches Website

SACRAMENTO, CA  Today the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) announced the launch of a new website as part of a months-long celebration, Charters at 30: Reimagining Public Education. The new website will serve as an interactive hub for the charter community that reflects on 30 years of the charter movement and looks ahead to a bright future for charter public education. 

Charters at 30: Reimagining Public Education will celebrate this anniversary with in-person and virtual events, original storytelling, and more. All will be made available throughout the campaign at, which also highlights key milestones of the charter public school sector. In addition, the website serves as an online community where the public can record and post video testimonials of how charters impacted them individually or their families. The statewide celebration will conclude in September, marking the anniversary of the passage of the 1992 Charter Schools Act.

Website visitors will find:

  • An interactive timeline highlighting key charter school movement milestones.
  • Videos of bipartisan leaders supporting charter public schools.
  • A “Tell Your Story”, feature where site visitors can record a video testimonial
  • Downloadable social media profile frames and graphics charter supporters can use on their channels
  • Interviews of charter students

“This year marks the 30th anniversary of the charter movement with the 1992 passage of the California Charter Schools Act and throughout this year, our campaign will raise awareness of how charter public schools have provided a high-quality public education for millions of students statewide,” said Myrna Castrejón, California Charter Schools Association President and CEO. “The website,, showcases the strength and diversity of the charter public school community and is ready for the next thirty years of charter education that is free, public and open to all.”

CCSA kicked-off Charters at 30: Reimagining Public Education last week, February 23, with an online gathering of state and national charter leaders who have been involved in the charter movement over the past 30 years. The public can watch the video recording of the launch here.

History of Charter Public Schools in California

Thirty years after the enactment of the bipartisan legislation, California’s charter public schools have educated more than eight million students and currently serve nearly 700,000 in every region of the state. Every charter school in California is free, public, and open to all. Students are welcome to attend a charter public school regardless of academic performance, disability, religion, income level, race, sexual orientation, or zip code.

Charter schools are public schools that follow the same requirements as traditional district schools set forth by the state and local education agencies. They are community schools created by educators who have the flexibility to design instructional models that put students first and deliver a high-quality education. The flexibility and adaptability of a charter public school provides educators the freedom from bureaucracy to design an education that can help students succeed in college, career, and life.

California’s 1,300 charter public schools are non-profit and offer parents more opportunities at a high-quality public education that meets the unique needs of their child. Not all children learn the same and charter public schools offer parents a choice in their child’s education that can help the student succeed.

Parents choose charter public schools to provide their children additional support in certain subjects or to help keep them engaged and challenged. Charter public schools also offer parents options to learn at home. A charter public school may also focus on specialized learning like a magnet school, but it will not set prerequisites or require testing.

Charter public schools by the numbers

In the 2020-21 academic year, there were 1,294 charter public schools serving 690,455 students. The Charter public school student population consists of students who are:

  • 57% Low-income
  • 52% Latinx
  • 27% White
  • 14% English learners
  • 10% Students with disabilities
  • 7% Black

According to CCSA’s 2021 annual survey, more than three in four voters believe that parents have the right to choose a charter school if they think it is better for their child than the local district school. Parents support charter schools by a wide margin (56% to 21%) and 60% of parents surveyed said they would consider sending their child to a charter public school.

For updates on the 30th Anniversary Campaign or for interviews with educators and students please contact

California Charter Schools Association to Honor Legacy of Senator Gary K. Hart, Launch 30th Anniversary Celebration of Charter Public School Movement

SACRAMENTO, CA  On Wednesday, February 23 at 5:30 pm PT, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) will host an online gathering of friends and former colleagues of the late state senator Gary K. Hart, celebrating a legacy that has benefitted more than eight million K-12 public students by creating new public education options for parents across California.

“Thirty years ago, Senator Hart forever changed our state’s public education system by authoring and passing the 1992 Charter Schools Act,” said Myrna Castrejón, California Charter Schools Association President and CEO. “His legislation made California the second state in the nation to establish charter public schools and created a movement that has strengthened public education for generations especially for students in underserved communities.”

CCSA and charter public schools across California will celebrate three decades of the charter public school movement this year with a months-long campaign: Charters at 30: Reimagining Public Education. Anniversary events can be found online through a newly created website being launched on Wednesday,, that highlights key milestones of the charter sector and will serve as an online community center where the public can also record and post video testimonials of how charters impacted them and their families. The statewide celebration will conclude in September at the anniversary of the passage of the Charter Schools Act.


  • Myrna Castrejón, CCSA President and CEO
  • Sue Burr, former Executive Director, State Board of Education
  • Eric Premack, Founding Director, Charter Schools Development Center
  • Nina Rees, President and CEO, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
  • Ember Reichgott Junge, Author of 1st charter school law, former Minnesota senator
  • Shannon Doss, Green Dot Animo South Los Angeles Charter High School, Class of 2011. Doss graduated UCLA with a BA in Sociology and African American Studies, and from USC with a Master’s in Social Work. She is currently a school social worker at DaVinci RISE Charter School.


  • Wednesday, February 23, 2022
    5:30 pm Pacific Time