AB 1316 Aims to Destroy Charter Schools

Back in 2019, facing a barrage of legislation that threatened to destroy their institutions, advocates for charter schools reached a “compromise” agreement with lawmakers. The results were sweeping changes, expressed in SB 126, AB 1505 and AB 1507, that mingled common sense reforms with measures that have made it harder than ever for charters to operate in California.

What happened in 2019 wasn’t really a compromise. It was a defeat, accepted in order to avoid an even bigger defeat. But that was then.

Today, in what officials at the California Charter School Association have characterized as “a blatant violation of the deal that we had from AB 1505 in 2019,” and “an existential threat to charter schools in California,” we now have AB 1316. Masquerading as a “transparency” reform, AB 1316 will decimate charter schools across the state.

Weighing in at over 31,000 words, the entirety of this expansive bill is designed to prevent any growth in charter school enrollment, attack home schools, defund online learning programs associated with charter schools, and force the closure of those charter schools that are unable to cope with the avalanche of new regulations.

Among the new rules will be a requirement for tutors to have teaching credentials. The thoughtless cruelty of this can only be explained in light of the underlying goal, which is to make it harder for charter schools to attract talent and effectively teach their students. There are retired and semi-retired professionals, often coming from STEM […] Read More

Breaking the Progressive Union Monopoly on Public Education

It’s hard to imagine a worse time for public education in America. The COVID-19 pandemic has cost millions of K-12 students a year of education, and Joe Biden has been elected president. At a time when innovation in public education is needed now more than ever, Biden has appointed Miguel Cardona to serve as Secretary of Education.

To understand why Cardona, who previously served as the Commissioner of Education in Connecticut, is not going to improve education in America, just consider the endorsements he’s received.

From Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association: “…he promises to respect the voice of educators as we work to safely reopen school buildings, colleges, and university campuses, while also forging a path to transform public education into a racially and socially just and equitable system…”

From Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers: “…he’s made strengthening public education and fighting for equity his life’s work… Dr. Cardona, a former AFT member, will transform the Education Department to help students thrive, a reversal of the DeVos disaster of the last four years.”

If the leaders of America’s two biggest labor unions representing teachers are enthusiastic about Cardona, you may rest assured America’s K-12 education will not improve. Consider their buzzwords. “Respect the voice of educators.” “Transform public education into a racially and socially just and equitable system.” “A reversal of the DeVos disaster.”

The only thing that was a “disaster” about the DeVos years was that she had to deal […] Read More

Rescuing Public Education in California

Depending on who you ask, California’s K-12 system of public education would be doing just fine if taxpayers threw another $30 billion (or more) per year into its insatiable maw, or, it is a failed model mostly because the teachers’ union agenda has ruined everything, from a crippling administrative overhead to mandating a curricula more obsessed with leftist indoctrination than with basic education.

In either case, though, there is agreement that big changes are necessary in order to restore to California’s K-12 students an education that offers them the skills and personal growth that will prepare them for life in the 21st century.

Big challenges are best addressed by big ideas. But California’s state legislature is a place where big ideas go to die, especially when it comes to education. Fortunately there is another path, which is through a state ballot initiative.

There is precedent, in the form of Prop. 38, a school voucher initiative that was put before California voters in 2000. It would have required the state to pay $4,000 per year per pupil attending private or religious schools, while greatly reducing the regulations governing the schools. The overall financial impact was unclear, with the possibility that in the long-run, public spending on K-12 education might actually decrease, since the $4,000 payment might be just enough to induce significant numbers of parents to shift their children into private and religious schools, allowing the much more expensive public school system to shrink.

While Prop. 38 was easily defeated […] Read More

Huge Waiting List for Orange County Classical Academy

In the 2010 documentary Waiting for Superman, there is an unforgettable scene, where parents and children anxiously await the results of a lottery. A lucky few will be able to enroll their children in a charter school. These New York City schools only have capacity to admit one in twenty of the applicants.

Charter schools are public schools and receive public funds, but they have the freedom to design innovative curricula. As documented in Waiting for Superman, as well as in more recent studies, charter schools on average deliver better academic results for less money. And since every charter school attracts students based on parental choice, underperforming charter schools do not last.

Across California, where barely ten percent of K-12 public schools are charters, the Waiting for Superman scenario plays out year after year. A new charter school in Orange County, the Orange County Classical Academy, offers yet another example. The upcoming 2021-2022 academic year will only be this primary school’s second year of operation, but they have over 500 applicants on their waiting list with only 60 slots available.

The Orange County Classical Academy opened last fall with 360 students, comprised of two 30 student classes at each grade level from kindergarten through fifth grade. Their plan is to add a grade level each year in order for the existing students to advance all the way through 12th grade while staying at the school. Hence for 2021-2022 they will add two 6th grade classrooms […] Read More

Resistance is NOT Futile

The union assault on charter schools in California has intensified, but resistance is not futile. Parents, students, conscientious teachers, lawmakers and concerned citizens are stepping up. There are many ways to fight for charter schools, which represent one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal performance by California’s K-12 system of public education.

In an April 2019 report in the respected website CalMatters entitled “Charter-mageddon: Lawmakers advance a raft of union-backed charter school curbs,” the ongoing battle between charter school advocates and their foes is updated as follows: “While the two sides have battled for decades—typically to a draw—the political momentum has shifted in favor of organized labor this session.”

This is an understatement. On April 4th, three charter-killer bills cleared the State Assembly’s Education Committee, and all of them have a good chance of moving on to the Governor’s desk, where Gavin Newsom is considered far more likely to sign them than former Gov. Brown would have been. These bills, as reported in CalMatters, “would give local school districts the sole power to authorize charter schools [AB 1505], create state and local caps on the number of charters allowed to operate [AB 1506], and put strict limits on charter school locations [AB 1507].”

A March 2019 report, written by Larry Sand and published by the California Policy Center, entitled “Chartercide in California,” not only discusses how the teachers unions are attacking charters, but also relates how charter schools are delivering dramatically better […] Read More