California Educator

April / May 2019

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Page 40 of 73

PROBLEM: Charter proliferation is out of control The number of California charter schools has increased by more than 900 percent to more than 1,300 schools over the last two decades. Enrollment has more than doubled during the past decade and is now about a tenth of the state's K-12 public school population. The original 1992 law permitted 100 charters. That increased to 250 in 1998. Under current law, the cap on charter schools is raised by 100 schools annually. Low-income urban areas are especially impacted. The ITPI report notes that Oakland has the highest concentration of charter schools in the state, with 30 percent of its students enrolled in them. ITPI says charters cost the Oakland Unified School District $57 million in funding every year that otherwise could be used to reduce public school class sizes and have more core services such as counseling and libraries. In Los Angeles Unified School District, nearly 25 percent of the district's 621,000 students were enrolled in a charter school last year, compared with 7 percent in 2008. Charters cost the district $600 mil- lion annually, according to We Are Public Schools. During recent strikes in Oakland and Los Angeles, educators demanded a moratorium on charters because they drain revenue from traditional neighborhood public schools. Settlements included commit- ments by the respective school boards to adopt resolutions calling on the state to establish a charter moratorium, which both have done. California's privately managed charter schools are championed by a group of billionaires who want private corporations to profit from public education. These investors also donate huge sums of money to political action committees (PACs) whose goal is to privatize public schools and run them as a business. In the 2016 election, more than $27 million was spent by six PACs to influence school board and county office of educa- tion elections in California. The Kids Not Profits campaign (see page 42) has followed the money and unveiled power players like Eli Broad, Reed Hastings, the Walton family and others. By highlighting research and mind-boggling cases of waste, fraud and abuse, Kids Not Profits has raised aware- ness and informed parents, taxpayers and voters — the same voters who took action last fall to elect candidates who will now work to address these problems. A Personal Connection to the New Law On March 5, 2019, I stood behind the governor of California as he signed SB 126 into law. The bill was very significant to me. I was representing the California Teachers Association in my eighth and final year as a board director. I began my role as a director wanting to be the best representative for students, fellow educators and the teaching profession. One of the duties I was assigned was serving as chair of the CTA Charter Organizing Workgroup. I have been the chair for the last five years. Many accomplishments have been achieved through the workgroup. There are more unionized charter educators in CTA, and they have become active leaders at the local and state level. A CTA Summer Insti- tute strand for charter educators has had two successful years. Charter educators joined strike lines in both Los Angeles and Oakland. One accomplishment, the creation of a charter educator lobby group, had a direct connection to SB 126. Charter educators lobbied lawmakers in Sacramento about the importance of charter school transparency. When Gov. Newsom stated he was signing his first non-budget bill — it was SB 126! For all the educators, leaders and CTA staff who have worked on charter organizing and charter- related issues, I am extremely glad that SB 126 was number one. TERRI JACKSON CTA Board Member District C SOLUTION: AB 1506 This bill, by Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), will put a cap on the number of charter schools in the state and give much- needed stability to California school districts, many of which are challenged with declining enrollment and other bud- get issues. If passed, the number of charters operating, currently 1,323, would become the new cap — and new charters could open only when other charter schools close. McCarty believes that the bill would give school districts "breathing room" and "financial stability." 1. Assembly Member Kevin McCarty 39 A P R I L / M AY 2 019

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