SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that he is creating an Action Team on Charter Schools to review laws governing California’s charter schools, and provide recommendations about any needed changes to the next State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Governor, State Board of Education, and State Legislature.
The guiding law for charter schools—the California Charter School Act—was enacted 26 years ago but has had few changes and little comprehensive review since then. In the meantime, California’s population and student population have increased significantly, our demographics have shifted, and our education system has been transformed with the introduction of new academic standards and new systems for funding and evaluating schools, Torlakson said.
“In the past few years, we have updated virtually our entire K–12 education system. Now it’s time to look at the key laws governing charter schools, which have not been significantly changed in 26 years, to see how they can be modernized to better meet the needs of all public school students, including those who attend charter schools,” said Superintendent Torlakson.
Team members represent a variety of organizations and perspectives, including those of philanthropists, charter schools, teachers, parents, and administrators. The team will be co-chaired by Action Team members Carl Cohn, Professor Emeritus, Claremont Graduate University, and Susan Bonilla, Council for a Strong America.
“This is a balanced team that will objectively examine issues regarding charter schools with the goal of promoting equity for all students and helping all students succeed in 21st century careers and college” Torlakson said.
David Rattray, executive vice president of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, said the review will help California identify best practices regarding charter schools.
“Students, parents, educators, community leaders, and the business community can all benefit from looking at what we’ve learned from the charter school movement and public education,” he said. “This review provides great opportunity to promote collaboration and improve the sharing of best practices among all public schools.”
California has developed the largest charter school sector in the United States, with nearly 1,300 charter schools serving 620,000 students, or 10 percent of the state’s total student population.
Charter schools have to be authorized by a district, county office of education, or the state of California. In their application or “petition” for authorization, charter schools are required to define specific goals and operating procedures. Charter schools do not have to follow all the rules and regulations required of other public schools.
Beginning this summer, the Action Team will meet to review existing research and analyze issues around charter school authorizing, support, and accountability; recommend specific components of California’s approach; suggest modifications of existing law, regulations, and systems of support; and make recommendations by the end of 2018.
The Education Commission of the States will provide research relating to best and promising practices on charter schools throughout the nation.
The members of the action team include:
· Cristina de Jesus, Green Dot Public Schools
· Terri Jackson, California Teachers Association
· Camille Maben, First 5 California
· Charmaine Mercer, Hewlett Foundation
· Ana Ponce, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy
· David Rattray, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce/UNITE-LA
· Jonathan Raymond, Stuart Foundation
· John Rogers, UCLA IDEA
· Sylvia Rousseau, University of Southern California
· Wes Smith, Association of California School Administrators
· Gia Truong, Envision Education