An Unprecedented Assault on Charter Schools
Published April 05, 2019 13:45
While we at CSDC are disappointed, we’re not surprised that 2019 has become the year for some legislators to link arms with the California Teachers Association (CTA) and introduce a series of bad bills meant to destroy charter schools in California. Anti-charter legislators and CTA knew things would change when Governor Jerry Brown left office and decided to come out swinging: like the Grinch, they packed four legislative bills with every anti-charter dream they have, and they’re dragging their bags of “goodies” through the legislative committee process right now.
The Assembly Education Committee will hear three of the four bills as a special order of business set for 1:30PM on April 10, 2019.
What Do the Bills Do?
These three bills (and a fourth that will be heard on April 24, 2019) have been amended, in some cases multiple times, and may be amended again, presenting “moving targets.” In their current versions they do the following:
- AB 1505 eliminates all rights of appeal if a charter petition is denied, non-renewed, or revoked at the district level, among other changes.
- AB 1506 places an indefinite moratorium on the growth of the number of charter schools at the state and district levels.
- AB 1507 rescinds the exemption allowing charter schools to locate a facility in another district in the same county if no facilities are available inside the district, limits the number of nonclassroom-based resource centers to one, and limits the location of resource centers to the sponsoring district.
While not being heard until April 24, 2019, AB 1508 adds additional reasons, including “…that a charter school would have a negative financial impact (on the) school district,” to the long list of reasons a school district may deny a charter. CSDC opposes this bill and requests that member schools send letters to their representatives on this measure, as well as to AB 1505, AB 1506, and AB 1507.
What Will CSDC Do?
After researching and analyzing the bills, CSDC has taken an “oppose” position on all four measures and we don’t believe that any can be amended to make them palatable. We believe that this year’s assault on charter schools is unprecedented and we cannot predict the outcome. While we do not believe these bills will be enacted in their current form, we do anticipate that charter opponents will attempt to use them as leverage in the larger legislative process and legislative outcomes are notoriously difficult to predict.
We’ve already written letters of opposition and sent them to the committee and to each of the authors. We’ve done this on each version of the bill. In addition, we’ve met with staff members for some of the authors and have shared our concerns. On April 10, CSDC will be in the Assembly Education Committee sharing its concerns with the committee and with the public.
What Can You Do?
We encourage all charter school leaders, parents, staff, and supporters to contact their legislators, noting opposition to all four of these bills. Unity of opposition is vitally important given the unprecedented, broad-based, and frontal nature of attacks on charter interests.
You can do that by reviewing our attached letters and then editing and customizing them to add your school name, number of students, and school city. We encourage you to add facts specific to your school’s situation. The legislature needs to hear additional voices on these subjects.
- Contact your legislators.
Legislators always want to hear from their own constituents. You can find out who your legislators are by going to this website http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/ and typing in your street address, city name, and zip code. Your school and its stakeholders will be represented by at least one state senator and one state assembly member and perhaps more, depending on the location of the legislative district boundaries and your school’s/organization’s geographic reach. You may also want to type in the address of your charter school and ask your parent community to use this tool to type in their own home addresses. It is possible that your school community may be represented by several legislators.
- Submit a letter to the Assembly Education Committee.
Go to: https://calegislation.lc.ca.gov/Advocates/faces/register.xhtml. This link will provide more specific information, but once you have written your letter, you may also upload it here and it will become part of the permanent record on the bill. Note that the committees may establish deadlines prior to bill hearings and the web portal may not accept letters after the deadline, so phone calls, emails, and letters to your own legislators are still key.
- Attend and speak at legislative committee hearings.
CSDC encourages charter school stakeholders to attend legislative hearings where major charter school bills and budget matters are heard. We do caution, however, the legislative process is challenging to engage. Committee meetings are often long, and it can be difficult to estimate when a given bill will be heard. Committee chairs usually place very sharp time limits on speakers, typically limiting testimony to one or two speakers on the “con” side, deferring to the bill author for the “pro” side, while also allowing additional speakers to very briefly note their name, their affiliation (e.g., school name), and whether they “support” or “oppose” the measure and nothing more. This is different from a typical local school district board meeting where all members of the public are allowed to speak for a one-to-three minutes.
We’re here to help! Both Caitlin O’Halloran, CSDC’s School Governance and Policy Specialist (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Eric Premack, CSDC’s Executive Director and Founder (email@example.com), are education advocates with decades of experience helping others to engage in the legislative process. Please call us or email with questions or to find more about how you can help derail these bad bills.
Letters of Opposition