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California: The Latest Charter Reform Is Unlikely to Change Much

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When the California Teachers Association and the California Charter School Association stand side-by-side to applaud a law about charters, you have to wonder who wrote the law and whether it will rein in charter corruption.

The latest reform effort was a law to guarantee charter transparency and accountability. Former Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill twice.

The State Board of Education approved 71% of the charters that appealed to them after being rejected by the local district and county board of education. Almost a third of those it approved have since closed.

Capital & Main says the new law won’t make much difference.

 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed into law Senate Bill 126, written to hold the state’s charter schools to the same transparency as other public schools. (Charter schools are funded by tax dollars but privately administered.) The bill, among other provisions, clarifies that charter schools are subject to existing state financial disclosure and conflict-of-interest laws. It’s a significant break from Newsom’s charter school-friendly predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown, who twice vetoed similar legislation.

Still, the California Charter Schools Association, the well-funded charter lobbying group, praised the bill as a “balanced, fair application” of the state’s transparency laws, while preserving charter schools’ autonomy.



The fact that the bill sailed through the legislature without opposition strikes Julian Vasquez Heilig, a professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at California State University, Sacramento, as “one small, small step for mankind.”

“[Senate Bill 126] is two pages long,” he says. “The governor and Democrats are using it to say they’re doing something. But we are still spending hundreds of millions to build charters next to failing public schools. And many of those charters are not doing anything innovative that public schools are not already doing.”

And, despite protestations of “failing public schools” voiced by charter school supporters, many more charter schools are failing due to lack of oversight that the new law is not set up to fix. Not only would additional laws to provide rules for and financial scrutiny of charter schools protect district schools, they might shore up charter schools as well.

My suggestion to the editors: Please delete the word “other” from the first sentence. Charter schools are publicly financed but they are not public schools. They are private contractors.

https://capitalandmain.com/new-oversight-law-wont-prevent-charter-school-financial-difficulties

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