A Chance for Charter School Critics and Supporters to Agree!
Here is your chance charter school proponents! So you don’t like the fact that charter schools are more segregated than traditional public schools? You think that some charters are wasting taxpayer money? You are open to solutions that provide special education students access to charters? (See New Study: Are Charters beacons of opportunity for Special Needs Students?) Here is an opportunity for you to support the transparency and accountability that you say you desire!
The latest attempt to create transparency and accountability for charters in California is SB 1362 (Charter schools’ petitions’ fiscal impact on a school district and charter school special education local plan area study by the Legislative Analyst)
The bill will do a couple of things:
- Encourage reduced segregation in charter schools by allowing authorizers to require integration plans in charter petitions
- Allow authorizers to require charter schools elucidate a plan to provide access to special education students in their charter petition
- Empower school districts to reject charter petition based on a negative economic impact on the local community.
- Requires a report to the Legislature on the impact that “a charter school special education local plan area serving over 250 charter schools has on special education services provided to California pupils.”
I’ve been asked to speak on a research panel at the capitol today. Here are my remarks (as prepared, but not necessarily as delivered) related to SB 1362.
In the fall of 2016, The NAACP Board of Directors approved a national resolution calling for a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools until more transparency and accountability in their operations can be achieved. Following this action, the NAACP created a Task Force on Charter Schools and later expanded its charge to examine the quality education for children of color in inner city schools.
The task force conducted a listening tour in seven cities across the United States most impacted by private control and privatization of public schools including Detroit, New Orleans, and Los Angeles.
The task force’s mission was to make recommendations to the Board of Directors on policy and actions needed to improve the quality of education for all children of color being educated with public funds and to ensure the sustainability of an effective public education system for all children. The NAACP High Quality Education task force report makes the following recommendations:
School finance reform is needed. To solve the quality education problems that are at the root of many of the issues, school finance inequity still persists essential to ensure that resources are allocated according to student needs.
These inequities still persist despite the LCAP and LCFF. For example, while Los Angeles has experience at 17% increase in funding and Oakland a 12% increase in funding pre and post LCFF— wealthy districts have had much larger increases— like Beverly Hills at 25% and Palo Alto a 24% increase.
Invest in low-performing schools and schools with significant opportunity to close the achievement gap. To ensure that all students receive a high-quality education, federal, state, and local policies need to: (1) attract and retain fully qualified educators, (2) improve instructional quality (3) wraparound services for young people.
Community schools are one such model by which we can do this.
Mandate a rigorous authoring and renewal process for charters Only local districts should serve as authorizers, empower those districts to reject applications that do not meet standards, and establish policies for serious and consistent oversight.
The task force report states that “States with the fewest authorizers have been found to have the strongest charter school outcomes. To do this, states should allow only districts to serve as authorizers and should empower them to reject applications that do not meet standards, as well as to provide serious and consistent oversight.”
In fact, at 39%, the California State Board of Education has the highest charter failure rate of any level of authorizer in California since 2001. This is about 15% higher than county authorized charters and about 10% higher than unified district authorized charters.
Eliminate for-profit charter schools No federal, state, or local taxpayer dollars should be used to fund for-profit charter schools, nor should public funding be sent from nonprofit charters to for-profit charter management companies. We can look to my birth state of Michigan and the Betsy DeVos inspired for-profit charter industry disaster (more than 80% of charters are for profit) that has led to the Great Lakes State drop to one of the lowest performing states in the nation.
View the NAACP task force report at bit.ly/NAACPQualityEducationReport
California has more charter schools than any other state. Without the increased funding from the LCFF during the past several years, the unspoken situation that most districts would likely be facing is million dollar shortfalls due to charter schools. These million dollar shortfalls are already being realized in Oakland, East Side Union and many other districts. In fact, there are now districts that have more charter schools in their boundaries than neighborhood public schools. We are at a tipping point. Our local communities should be able to consider finances when they look at charter school petitions. Furthermore, charters like KIPP should not be fiending to circumvent local control because they believe that the California State Board of Education is ready and willing to oblige.
In my view, the approach in SB 1362 is aligned with recommendations in the NAACP’s Task Force on High Quality Education and is a step forward for for more transparency and accountability for students, families, educators and taxpayers.
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