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Almost everyone in California seems to acknowledge that the state charter law is broken and needs reform. Governor Gavin Newsom created a Task Force, under the leadership of Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, charged with coming up with ways to fix the law. Since the majority of the Governor’s Task Force has ties to the charter industry (including two members of the state’s charter lobbying organization), it bears watching to see whether the proposals are effective or cosmetic.
Now the California School Boards Association has released its recommendations. Its report mentions in passing that only one of every three charter schools outperforms the public schools in the district where it is located.
“After more than 25 years of continued charter school growth, California now finds itself far removed from the original mission and vision of the Act, which was, in part, meant to improve student learning with an emphasis on those who are academically low achieving, and to help generate innovation to benefit students in all schools. California is now a state where only one in three charter schools produces student outcomes that are significantly better than those of the traditional public schools that those students would have otherwise attended.5 Moreover, rapid expansion has brought about examples of inequitable access to schools of choice, financial misconduct, and governance challenges.”
Frankly, after reading this brief document, I found myself wondering yet again, why is the government supporting two different systems? Charters are not more innovative than public schools, are not more successful in educating students, are less accountable, and do not cost less. Remind me, what’s the point?