California Educator

May / June 2017

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" The original intent of the law underscored the importance of charter schools developed at the local site level and with the full participation of all stakeholders, including educators, school board members, parents, guardians and other commu- nity members," says CTA President Eric Heins. "But corporate, for -profit companies have hijacked the system, and there is no accountability and transparency for how they spend tax- payer money." Charter schools are public schools funded by taxpayers, yet many do not hold themselves accountable to the standards other public schools are held to. For example, many don't share financial records, hold open meetings, or adopt conflict-of-interest policies. Charter school boards are typically appointed, not elected, leaving a board more beholden to those in charge than those it serves. is lack of oversight and transparency has paved the way for fraud, corruption and mistreatment of students and staff at an increasing number of charter schools, documented in multiple studies and reports. It has also led to some charters denying equal access to students. CTA has been working on the legislative and organizing fronts to address these issues. e union has welcomed charter school educators and helped them have a voice in their schools. Approx- imately 250 of California's charter schools are unionized, and CTA proudly represents more than 7,300 charter educators. CTA knows charter school teachers, like traditional public school teachers, care deeply about their students and work hard to help them succeed. Many charter schools are locally driven, provide an excellent education and deserve our support. For exam- ple, Green Dot Public Schools California is a Los Angeles charter operator that strives to be open, equitable and inclusive. But when student learning takes a backseat to corporate profits, CTA cannot stand idly by. "What we are seeing as the dominant norm these days — cor- porate charters making education a business and profiting on the backs of our children — is just not acceptable and shouldn't be allowed any longer in California," says CTA Board member Terri Jackson, chair of CTA's Organizing Task Force. In the following pages, we take a closer look at charter schools in California — those that play by the rules, and those that bend them to the breaking point. And we offer some commonsense solutions to close the accountability loopholes exploited by so many corporate charters. AT A GLANCE Charter School Vignettes Helix Is Student-Centered 22 K12 Misled Parents 26 Alliance Set to Fight Teachers 27 Rocketship Relies on Computers 29 Livermore Charter Faces Charges 30 Celerity: Education Is a Business 32 Follow the Money Billionaire Backers 24 Solutions at Work Unionizing 31 Legislation 33 19 May / June 2017

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