California Educator

April / May 2019

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Page 39 of 73

CTA Board member Terri Jackson (third from right) at the signing of SB 126 by Gov. Gavin Newsom (center). Also present are the bill's co-authors, Sen. Connie Leyva (fourth from right) and Assembly Member Patrick O'Donnell (far right), and representatives from employee unions and charter school associations. Read Jackson's thoughts on the next page. Photo credit: Joe McHugh, CHP I N E A R L Y M A R C H , Gov. Gavin Newsom signed his- toric legislation (SB 126) that requires privately managed charter schools in California to adhere to the same standards of accountability and transparency as other public schools. is groundbreaking bill addresses a lack of oversight and transparency that has allowed fraud, corruption, mismanagement, and mistreatment of stu- dents and staff to flourish at charter schools throughout the state. A 2018 report by In the Public Interest (ITPI), a research and policy center, states: "Only the tip of the iceberg is visible, but this much is known: Total alleged and confirmed fraud and waste in California's charter schools has reached over $149 million." SB 126 will give parents and taxpayers the opportunity to spot instances of fraud that badly hurt students. It requires privately operated charters to follow the same laws governing open meetings, public records and con- flicts of interest that apply to school districts. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, under this law, board meetings will be open to the public, and these charters must provide records to the public upon request. To prevent personal gain, board members are banned from voting on contracts in which they have a financial interest. Co-authored by Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) and Assembly Member Patrick O'Donnell (D-Long Beach), SB 126 was championed by CTA. "is is an exciting moment," said CTA President Eric Heins. "CTA has worked hard to make this happen. Pri- vately managed companies must be held accountable for how they spend taxpayer money." In fact, privately managed charter schools have been siphoning public funds away from public schools for years. State funding to schools is based on enrollment, and schools that lose students to charters still must pay the same amount of money to fund programs, pay staff and maintain buildings. (Before CTA-supported AB 1360 became law in 2017, charters could also cherry-pick students and often rejected academically challenged stu- dents and students with special needs. is meant public schools and districts coped with students who needed the most resources with proportionately less funding.) Other bills that address privately managed charter schools' uncontrolled growth, authorization process and operations are making their way through the Assembly. Here's a look at some serious problems facing California's schools caused by outdated and flawed laws governing charters, and how legislation could remedy them. New charter school bills address problems that hurt public schools By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin A Fix for Charter School Ills 38 Advocacy L E G I S L A T I V E U P D A T E

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