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California Experiences Charter School Boom

— New data shows there's a charter school boom in California this year with roughly one in five students attending a charter school in the Golden State.

Research from the California Charter Schools Association shows more than 80 new charter schools opened their doors in California this year. That brings the total number to just over 800.

Ten of the new schools are in San Diego County. The region has the second largest number of charter schools in the state with more than 80. Los Angeles has the most -- in fact, with more than 160, it has more than any school district in the nation.

Jed Wallace is president and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association. He says San Diego has historically been the nation's leader in charter school development. He says his group is working to make San Diego compete with L.A.

“I would say that San Diego needs to reassert their leadership,” Wallace said. “In fact, we've been having a number of conversations with charter school leaders and with important civic leaders to see whether we can encourage San Diego to recapture its place of leadership.”

Wallace credits the overall growth to a shift in public attitudes towards charter schools. He says parents and teachers see charters as a mainstream alternative for a quality education.

“We are seeing a once in a many, many generation shift in our public education system. It’s something that those of us who have worked for it for so long, we appreciate the gravity of what is happening.”

Wallace says the charter school movement shows no signs of slowing down next year. That's partly because both Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Barack Obama are looking at charter schools as part of their education reform strategies.

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