Our Story

California Parents for Educational Choice (CPEC) has its roots in the friendships and associations formed during the 1993 campaign for Proposition 174, the School Voucher Initiative. In large part because of the passions aroused by the proposition and by the unethical tactics of its opponents, proponents gained a sense of solidaritywhich has continued to this present day. (Click here for a greater description of the initiative campaign) Download PDF file from Zip

Despite the initiative's 7-3 defeat, proponents of school choice had much to celebrate. Their campaign had resulted in the liberalization of public school choice and in legislation to allow for the creation of charter schools –that is, public schools which were relatively unfettered by the state's ssive education code. In December 1993, school choice supporters formed the Dunfey Group to evaluate alternative ideas for a new statewide voucher / school reform initiative.

Over the next two years, this group explored various voucher and school reform proposals, and based upon surveys and focus groups, began to identify key elements which were necessary for public acceptance of broader school choice. The group also identified key tactical advantages which the opponents of school choice had over its proponents. The greatest of these advantages were (1) that opponents had established union organizations upon which to build any opposition campaign and school choice proponents had to recreate an organization with each campaign, and (2) that the voting public's mindset did not include school choice as a reform alternative.

After a hiatus of about three years, Dr. Alan Bonsteel decided to call a meeting of voucher supporters to determine whether sufficient interest existed to begin to address the tactical advantages of opponents of parental choice in January 1999. Because of the success of the meeting, he and other school choice activists formed California Parents for Educational Choice in May 1999.

Since that time, CPEC has been actively involved in recruiting members, educating the public about the crisis in our K-12 government education system, and putting school choice on the table as a viable education reform alternative. Click here to read the details of activities in the first 20 months of operation.

In 2001 and 2002 CPEC's activities included:

Alerting the press to the lack of security in the administration of the Stanford 9 test in California and the more-or-less "rigged" nature of the results, and thereby, provoking discussions which led to significant changes in the State's testing program,

Exposing the phony claims by the California Department of Education that California's class size reduction is materially improving academic performance by California's public school students,

Issuing a major study documenting that one-third of California's children do not graduate high school,

Explaining to the press why the notion of "fiscal accountability" in public schools is a myth,

Exposing financial misinformation put out by California public school officials concerning per student spending and successfully encouraging the National Center for Education Statistics to report all-inclusive per student spending numbers,

Coming to the public defense of Edison Charter School in San Francisco when the district school board wished to revoke its charter without cause, and

Joining with the Center for Education Reform and 26 other organizations in filing an amicus brief in defense of the Cleveland, Ohio, school voucher plan before the US Supreme Court.

Sinceits founding, CPEC has also been active behind the scenes in a variety of ways. One which the CPEC Board of Directors can now make public is that in early 2000 the Board advised the Vouchers 2000 campaign that the proposal for which it was gathering signatures did not have the essential elements for victory (see "After the Derailment: A California Looks at the Future of Vouchers in his State" by Carl Brodt)and that the campaign's ad hoc organization would not be able to offset the significant tactical advantages held by its opponents. When the campaign decided to place the initiative on the ballot anyway as Proposition 38, the Board endorsed the initiative, but as predicted, the proposition went down to defeat 7-3.

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