Teacher’s unions and local school districts have been pushing hard at the Capitol to target, limit and even eradicate charter schools, claiming that charters are draining resources from traditional public school districts.
Traditional public school districts are laboring under crippling finances, and are lashing out at the successful charters and homeschooling programs.
There have been huge rallies of parents protesting, and teachers unions supporting the bills. And now, with the passage of Assembly Bill 1505 in the Assembly Tuesday, unions plan to do the same with homeschooling.
AB 1505 says new charter schools can only be created with the approval of the local public school district. Additionally and ironically, the bill “requires consideration of a charter school’s financial stability during renewal; and, eliminates the requirement that academics be the highest priority during renewal and revocation,” issues never considered with regular public schools.
Opponents say charter schools are taking away from the public school system. But advocates argue that charter schools would not exist is parents were satisfied with the public school system.
The total package of charter school bills includes Assembly Bills 1505 by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), 1506 by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and 1507 by Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D- Santa Clarita), and are all sponsored by the California Teachers Association.
The bills would cap the number of charter schools in the state, and limit the ability of charter-school organizers to appeal anti-charter decisions by often union-controlled local school boards to county and state boards of education.
“The CTA bills being pushed by the union’s allies in the Legislature would destroy the charter-school sector in California,” said Izumi, Director of Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute.” Izumi says the answer is easy: “School districts can keep students from leaving the regular public schools by simply doing a better job of educating them. It’s within their control.”
However, every homeschooling parent I’ve interviewed says they would never send their kids back to California’s public schools, regardless of the outcome of these bills.
“As one of the elected leaders of the Los Angeles Unified School District—California’s largest district and one certainly struggling to meet its financial obligations and the needs of families—I welcome the state’s help in tackling public education’s complex challenges,” wrote Nick Melvoin in the Orange County Register: A charter school moratorium won’t help California schools.
“But I don’t see a surplus of high-quality public school options as one of those challenges. I see our teachers struggling to innovate due to rigid regulations. I see our schools vying for the basic resources they’re lacking due to inadequate state funding. And I see our most vulnerable students paying the price.”
Melovin states the obvious: “Rather than focusing on a decades-old political fight between charter and district schools, the Legislature should get to work on reforms that would help traditional school districts. This would naturally mitigate the growth of new schools because parents are satisfied, not because we’re placing an arbitrary cap on options for poor families.”
As Janell Smiley wrote in February in Charter Schools Are Not the Enemy, “families are bailing out of the public system, one that is a lumbering, crippled old giant, perhaps still lovable and worth saving, but steadily falling apart from a multitude of ailments. It’s akin to putting tiny band-aids on bloody gaping wounds, while simultaneously blaming its decline on anything other than the obvious. It is old, outdated, mismanaged, and in need of major surgery – not tiny band-aids. Charter schools are NOT part of the disease killing the giant.”
AB 1505 will be heard and voted on in the Senate next.
Next: Who voted for and against these bills?