Education reformers are getting creative. It looks like the whole Trump and DeVos school choice charters vouchers show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are thing is really messing with their mojo and momentum. So now they are getting creative. They are leaning on TV networks to push their agenda with telethons (See XQ Live – Desperate School Choice Rebrand After Trump Touched It and The false narrative behind a glitzy live television show about school reform) to recruit people to run for school boards and then pump money into their campaigns (have they really run out of Teach For America candidates or lost faith in them?)
They are also trying new, creative approaches in legislation. Here’s one you should watch out for in your state. It’s called a “State STEM School.” Sounds pretty good, except it’s actually a charter without the restrictions of having a charter. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields are clearly important to the future prosperity and innovation in the United States. However, under the guise of innovation, AB 1217 seeks to limit local democracy and uses STEM as a cloak for a sneaky scheme to limit transparency and accountability for schools and the public’s tax dollars.
Here is what is problematic about AB 1217 that makes this agenda very clear.
- AB 1217 allows the school to receive public money and California lottery money like a charter school, but it will be even less accountable to the public than neighborhood public schools and charter schools.
- AB 1217 is a charter school without even a charter because it explicitly states that the school does not need to even follow charter school regulations unless they are articulated in the bill.
- AB 1217 allows for less accountability than required for our neighborhood public schools as it will not be governed by any transparency and accountability (or any other) statutes from the school district the school is in – unless explicitly stated in bill.
- AB 1217 is the opposite of community-based, local public schools because 2 of the 7 board members of the school will be appointed by the Governor.
I believe every American wants and thinks that students should have access to STEM courses and careers if they so choose. However, AB 1217 uses STEM as a beachhead for spending public money on schools with even less local-control, transparency and accountability than charters or neighborhood public schools.
It is also important to note that the State Department of Finance and the California NAACP do not support AB 1217.
AB 1217 is a wolf in sheep clothing.
If you live in California, today please encourage your State Senator and Assemblymember to not support AB 1217.
If you live outside of California, get prepared for this new strategy.
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