California Educator

April 2017

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Page 29 of 57

Legislative Update Bills to keep charter schools accountable and accessible, eliminate guns from campus, and create affordable housing for educators make their way through the state Legislature. AB 1360: EQUITY AND STUDENT ACCESS AT CHARTER SCHOOLS Authored by Assembly Member Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), AB 1360 prohibits discriminatory admissions practices and ensures due process in pupil discipline at charter schools. Charter schools are part of the statewide public school system, and must have nondiscriminatory admission policies, as well as suspension and expulsion policies that guarantee all students appropri- ate due process rights. The ACLU and Public Advocates, AB 1360 co-sponsors, recently issued a report finding that one in five California charter schools utilizes discriminatory admissions requirements. AB 1360 clarifies that charter school admissions policies must not limit access to groups such as low-income students, English learners and special education students. The bill also clarifies that char- ter school suspension and expulsion procedures must comply with federal and state constitutional due process requirements, including fair notice and an opportunity to be heard. CTA CO-SPONSORED CHARTER SCHOOL LEGISLATION The original intent of charter school law was to pro- vide opportunities for teachers, parents, students and community members to establish schools that operate independently from the existing school district structure, as a way to: • Improve student learning. • Increase learning opportunities for all students, especially those identified as academically low-achieving. • Encourage the use of different and innovative teach- ing methods. • Create new professional opportunities for teachers. • Provide parents and pupils with expanded choices within the public school system. • Hold schools accountable for meeting measurable student outcomes. A petition to establish a charter school must be signed by a specified number of teachers or parents in the district. As charter schools expanded in California (there are now more than 1,200, with 56 opening in 2016-17 alone), many departed from this intent. Increasingly, charter schools are operated by large private management organizations where important decisions are frequently made without sufficient oversight, far from the school communities they are meant to serve. CTA is co-sponsoring three charter school bills mak- ing their way through the Legislature. These bills are aimed at ensuring charter schools are transparent and accountable to local school districts, and provide fair access to all students. CTA, which represents over 7,000 charter school edu- cators, believes that educators' working conditions are students' learning conditions, and that charter schools should be held to the same standards as other public schools. For more information on these bills and other legislation co-sponsored and supported by CTA, see 28 advocacy

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