CSDC Remains Opposed to AB 1505

Published August 29, 2019 13:15

Governor Newsom, legislative leadership, and the California Charter Schools Association reached an understanding yesterday regarding Assembly Bill 1505 (O’Donnell, D-Long Beach), anti-charter legislation sponsored by the California Teachers Association.
Though specific terms of the understanding have not been publicly disclosed, CSDC understands key terms among the involved parties include the following:

Eliminate Most State Appeals—by imposing an “abuse of discretion” standard on appeals to the State Board of Education. Under current law, charter schools may appeal both denials of new charter petitions and renewal petitions to county boards of education and, if denied by the county, to the State Board of Education.

Such appeals currently are reviewed under a so-called de novo (a Latin term meaning “new trial”) standard under which county and state boards do not assume the local board was correct and must, instead, consider the entire record. Under the proposed understanding, the State Board would shift to an “abuse of discretion” standard wherein it is generally assumed that the local board was correct to deny the charter unless the charter proponents demonstrate that the local board was arbitrary or absurd in their decision.

Imposition of such a narrow standard of review presumably would decimate the state appeal process. The de novo standard reportedly would continue to apply in state-level appeals from single-district counties where the local and county boards are one and the same. Appeals to county boards of education would also reportedly remain under the de novo standard of review.

Expand Reasons for Denial of Charter Petitions—to allow school districts to consider various new factors, including the financial impact of a charter school on the district, and whether the program proposed by the charter school is currently offered by the district. In contrast, under current law, districts are required to grant or deny charter petitions based on the merits of the petition.

Eliminate Teacher Credentialing Flexibility—phasing out provisions in current law that allow charter schools to employ non-credentialed teachers in “non-core” and “non-college preparatory” courses. Existing non-credentialed teachers would have five years to obtain credentials or lose their jobs.

Revise Charter Renewal Criteria and Process—giving a leg-up to schools that score high on standardized tests and allowing for such schools to obtain 7-year renewals, while curtailing and shortening renewals of low-scoring schools. Current law mandates that growth in academic achievement, broadly defined, is the primary renewal criterion and specifies that all charter renewals last for five years.

Impose Moratorium on New Nonclassroom-Based Charter Schools—by barring the start-up of new charter schools that offer “nonclassroom-based” instruction for the next two years.

CSDC’s 25+ years of legislative experience tells us that the details of any such legislative proposals are vitally important. We caution that these important details have not been made public, a striking irony given current calls for “transparency” in the public arena and in charter schools.

What has been shared indicates that the proposal is substantively similar to, and in key respects more punitive, than the current (July 5) version of Assembly Bill 1505, which CSDC opposes for many reasons. As such, CSDC continues to strongly oppose AB 1505. We will review and give full consideration to the details of the proposal when its terms are made public and suggest that our members do the same.

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