California Educator

May / June 2017

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Page 19 of 59

became the second state in the country (after Minnesota) to enact charter school legislation, it was meant to allow greater flexibility for innovation within public education. e intent of the Charter Schools Act of 1992 was to provide opportunities for teachers, parents, students and community members to establish schools that operate inde- pendently from the existing school district structure. is flexibility would be a way to improve student learning, increase learning opportunities for all students, encourage the use of innovative teaching methods, create professional opportunities for teachers, and provide parents and pupils with expanded choices within the public school system. Since then, charter schools have expanded in California (there are now more than 1,200, with 56 opening in 2016-17 alone), and the original intent often takes a backseat to corporate endeavors. Increasingly, charter schools are operated by large private man- agement organizations where important decisions are frequently made without sufficient oversight, far from the school communities and students they are meant to serve. LET'S BE CLEAR ABOUT CHARTER SCHOOLS Not all charter schools are created equal — especially these days. Some are student-centered and deserve our support. Others are profit-driven and are failing our students and our state. By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin Photos by Scott Buschman Clarissa Doutherd, left, executive director of Parent Voices Oakland, with Kim Davis of Parents United for Public Schools in front of the recently shuttered Castlemont Primary Academy. The charter school, which shared space with Castlemont High School, closed abruptly in February, displacing nearly 100 Oakland students. " The Castlemont schools promised many things to families," Doutherd says. "But they didn't have enough money to function." hen California See video interviews with several parents and educators featured in this story at video interviews 18 FEATURE

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