California Educator

September 2016

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to expand at the expense of our children who choose to remain in public schools?" asks Brown. Ta x p ay e r s c u r re n t ly p ay m o re t h a n $3 billion annually to fund about 1,200 charters in the state. Evidence shows that charters' lack of accountability has led to financial gains for their private operators, a n d h a s t o o of t e n b e e n di s a stro u s f o r thousands of California students. Taking Action Now, these billionaire backers are spending millions of dollars trying to influence local s c h o o l b o a r d a n d legislative elections across the state. E d u c a t o r s a n d CTA have launched th e Kid s Not P rof- i t s c a m p a i g n t o bring awareness of the private charter industry, the people behind it, and what parents and educators can do to take action. Kids Not Profits draws attention to the need for more accountability and trans- parency for California charter schools and helps expose the coordinated agenda by these billionaires. "Our students are counting on all of us in the community to provide them with the quality public education they need and deserve," says CTA President Eric Heins. " We can't allow a group of billionaires to push their profit-driven agenda on our kids, and we can't allow them to hijack elections to divert even more public money away from our neighborhood public schools." K i d s No t P r o f it s .co m h a s e y e - o p e n - ing resources and data about the wealthy charter school profiteers who have given millions in recent political donations. e list includes Eli Broad, whose secret plan to remove half of the students from Los Angeles' neighborhood public schools like Crenshaw High and place them in unac- countable chart ers was unmasked last year by the Los Angeles Times; the Walton family; Netflix CEO Reed Hastings; e Gap co-founder Doris Fisher ; and others. Funding an Agenda Broad has donated more than $1.35 million to the California Charter School Associa- tion (CCSA), a lobbying arm of the charter school industry, which hopes to put 1 mil- lion children in charters by 2022. In the 2016 primary election, backers of CCSA spent more than $11 million on candidates in California. eir goal is to elect state law- makers and county and local school board members who share t h e i r a g e n d a a n d c a n a p p r o v e n e w charter schools. In addition, Broad and fellow billion- aires actively engage P R f i r m s t o s w a y public opinion and own major shares in media companies, including e 74, which owns the LA School Report website. "Public schools should be about students and inspiring young minds — not profits," Heins says. "It's time to hold charter schools and their private operators accountable to some of the same standards as traditional public schools." As funding for staff, materials and pro- fessional development dwindles, Maynard Brown has seen class size ratios rise to as much as 45 to 1. He feel s strongly that instead of subsidizing corporate charter schools with taxpayer dollars, we should b e u sin g th e m on e y to stren g th en o ur neighborhood public schools for all Cal- ifornia children. "Quality education in inner-city public schools levels the playing field in society, and allows all of our young people to believe in and achieve their dreams," Brown says. United Teachers Los Angeles contributed to this report. To Find Out More Learn more about Kids Not Profits and the privately man- aged charter school industry at #kidsnotprofits "We can't allow a group of billionaires to push their profit-driven agenda on our kids." —ERIC HEINS, CTA President Charter Legislation CTA co-sponsored legislation this year to ensure equal access for all students, and to ensure fiscal transparency and accountability at all charter schools. California lawmakers approved Assembly Bill 709, which requires charter schools to disclose how they spend taxpayer money, prohibits charter school board members and their families from profiting from their schools, and ensures that charter schools comply with California's open meetings and open records laws. This bill is now on the governor's desk. Tell the governor to sign AB 709 at SB 322 would have ended the practice of charters cherry-pick- ing students to help boost the perception of academic success, eliminating their ability to limit enrollment for students with dis- abilities, low-academic performers, English learners, and students who are economically disadvan- taged. However, SB 322 failed on the Assembly floor. 37 September 2016

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