SAN JOSE, Calif., March 4 -- California Charter Schools Association issued the following news release:
The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) presented the annual Hart Vision Award for Charter School of the Year to Five Keys Charter School in San Francisco. The award was presented today at the 21st Annual California Charter Schools Conference (http://www.charterconference.org/2014/program/index.php) held March 3-6 at the San Jose Convention Center.
In 2003, Five Keys Charter School opened its doors to more than 200 inmates in the San Francisco City/County jail system. This was the first school to do this in the nation. The school is being recognized for offering non-traditional students the opportunity to restart their education with a focus on five "keys": education, employment, recovery, family, and community.
Since it opened its first school, Five Keys has been educating inmates and ex-offenders in a pro-social environment by providing high school classes and access to community-based programs that provide recovery, parenting, and work skills. Because of the school's charter, Five Keys can tailor its curriculum to turn their students' struggles into triumphs.
"We have people becoming literate, non-readers becoming readers," said Steve Good, executive director of Five Keys Charter School. "For many of our students, earning a high school diploma is the biggest success of their life."
Five Keys now operates three schools that serve inmates at the San Bruno jail, including an adult school serving formerly incarcerated individuals and a high school for students enrolled in community-based programs. Five Keys has seen a 34 percent reduction in recidivism and returning to jail of their students.
"There are numerous studies that correlate lack of education with criminal behavior," said Sunny Schwartz, founder of Five Keys Charter School. "So the more education we see, the less likely they are to return to jail. This is not only a humanitarian initiative; it's a crime prevention initiative."
Past Hart Vision School of the Year recipients include: Lighthouse Community Charter in Oakland, and Fenton Avenue Charter in Los Angeles (2013); St. HOPE Public School 7 in Sacramento, and Gabriella Charter School in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles (2012); Dr. Olga Mohan High School in Los Angeles, and KIPP Bridge Charter School in Oakland (2011); Renaissance Arts Academy in Los Angeles, and Life Learning Academy in San Francisco (2010); and Our Community School in Los Angeles, and Oakland Charter Academy in Oakland (2009).
The Hart Vision Awards were established in 1995 in honor of Gary K. Hart, retired California State Senator and former California Secretary of Education. While serving as state senator, Hart sponsored the legislation that established California charter schools. The goals of the Hart Vision Awards are to annually recognize and honor individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in education.
The California Charter Schools Conference has been held annually for 21 years, offering resources, guidance, and advocacy support to a charter school movement that has grown to 1,130 schools serving 519,000 students. Nearly 3,000 attendees are participating in this year's conference. Learn more about the event (http://www.charterconference.org/2014/program/index.php).