When the California Charter Schools Act was ratified in 1992, it made California the second state in the nation to allow charter schools. However, the bill limited the number of charter schools to only 100, with no more than ten per school district.
In 1998, former Assemblymember Ted Lempert saw an opportunity to change the charter school limitation through the Legislature. Lempert introduced AB 544 when he represented the San Carlos district (which houses the first charter to open in California), knowing the expansion was beneficial for communities across the state.
AB 544 was passed and signed by Gov. Wilson at the San Carlos Learning Center in 1998. The bill strengthened both the independence and accountability of charter schools, removed the cap, and added teacher credentialing, among other things. Lempert believed the charter movement was - and still is - about choice, and what charters do for the entire community. He knew introducing AB 544 was the right decision because as a parent and policymaker, Lempert felt something needed to change, or the legislation as it was previously written would have left the charter movement dead in its tracks.
Now president of Children Now, Lempert hopes to see in the next 20 years every student in California graduating from high school, and having the choice, and access, to a quality education. He notes there is a tremendous amount of support from numerous sectors across the state, like business, parents, communities, etc., to fund our schools appropriately. This belief is one of Lempert's primary focuses with Children Now, and believes the solution is well within reach.