Four Bills address local control over authorizing new charter; clarifying site and location of new charters; facilities, academic and fiscal impact on students; and a cap on growth of charters
SACRAMENTO – A concerned group of lawmakers, educators, administrators, civil right organizations and classified personnel have come together to address many of the issues surrounding California charter schools by fixing the laws governing charter schools that have negatively impacted students attending neighborhood public schools. Assemblymembers Patrick O’Donnell, Kevin McCarty, Christy Smith and Rob Bonta and introduced AB 1505, AB 1506, AB 1507 and AB 1508.
AB 1505 by Assemblymember O’Donnell ensures all matters related to charter schools’ authorization, renewal and other key decisions be made by the local governing board—those who actually know and manage the school district. AB 1506 by Assemblymember McCarty establishes a cap on growth of charter schools. The removal of the cap that was included in the original charter school law has led to destabilizing school districts and the law has not kept pace with the growth of unregulated corporate charter schools and the groups behind them. AB 1507 by Assemblymember Smith closes a loophole in current law which allows a charter school to operate outside of its authorizing district. AB 1508 by Assemblymember Bonta would allow authorizers to consider facilities, fiscal and academic impact on the district when considering new charter school petitions.
SB 126 by Senator Connie Leyva and Assemblymember O’Donnell which cleared the Senate last week is making its way through the Assembly this week. SB 126 ensure all corporate charter schools are held to the same transparency and accountability as neighborhood public schools.
“Charter school reform is long overdue. These bills will provide school districts the ability to make responsible and informed decisions regarding authorization and renewal of charter schools, which are critical for student success and taxpayer accountability,” said Assemblymember O’Donnell, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee.
“AB 1506 will put a cap on the number of charter schools in California yet allow some capacity for charter schools to expand when schools are phased out or shut down,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty. “This will give some much needed financial stability to California school districts — many of which are challenged with declining enrollment and other cost pressures.”
“I am proud to author AB 1507 which restores the right of individual districts to have oversight of schools located within their boundaries,” said Assemblymember Smith. “I am pleased that AB 1507 is a part of a broader package of measures creating greater transparency and accountability for our taxpayer dollars, while improving public schools for every student.”
“School board members have a fiduciary duty to ensure the fiscal health of their district,” said Assemblymember Bonta. “They know the needs of their schools the best and should be able to consider the fiscal impact on their students and district when considering whether to approve a new charter school.”
Additional lawmakers are considering legislation to impose a moratorium on charter school growth similarly to what the NAACP recently called for and also agreed upon between the Los Angeles Unified School District and United Teachers Los Angeles in its strike resolution agreement earlier in February.
“It is clear that Californians want significant changes in the decades-old laws governing charter schools that have allowed corporate charter schools to divert millions away from our neighborhood public schools, allowed for waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars at the expense of our students,” said California Teachers Association President Eric Heins. “We need the Assembly to support SB 126 this week to ensure transparency and accountability at corporate charter schools. Fixing these laws will put us on the right path to making sure all schools are held to the same standards for the sake of our students.”
California Federation of Teachers President Josh Pechthalt said:
“These common-sense measures will empower local communities to decide whether charter schools are the right choice for their students. Placing decision-making powers back in the hands of local communities will mean more accountability and better outcomes for all of our students.”
California School Employees Association President Ben Valdepeña said:
“Public schools are designed to lift all students. Nobody, including charter schools, should be exempt from laws that protect local control and a fair playing field for all students. These bills are good public policy and are a positive step towards education equity.”
Max Arias, Executive Director, SEIU Local 99 said:
“SEIU members share a commitment to strengthening public education as a foundation of the California Dream for the next generation. We believe every child in California should have access to a quality education within walking distance of their home and that we must have a strong system of accountability to protect our investment in their future.”
Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, California NAACP Education Chair said:
“In 2016, the national NAACP called for a moratorium on the rapid expansion of charter schools. Charter schools, as currently operating under law in California, are lacking public transparency and financial accountability. As a result, the California NAACP stands in solidarity with legislative efforts that call for a charter moratorium.”