Network for Public Education (NPE) is helping to support California Senate Bill 808. The legislation, while it doesn't go far enough, is an important first step towards reeling in the outrageous excesses of the charter school sector. My letter to my State Senator appears below, as well as the call to action letter from NPE.
Senator de Leon:
I am a third year law student, studying hard so that I can become an attorney and defend families of children with disabilities against discrimination by the lucrative charter school industry. Prior to my studying law, I wrote for numerous publications about the essentially unregulated charter sector, exposing abuses, fraud, misrepresentation, and more importantly, discriminatory conduct towards the most vulnerable students.
Charters discriminate against English language learners, students with disciplinary histories, students with disabilities, and more. Meanwhile, their high-powered executives—many of whom are not even educators—pull down astronomical salaries and use their ability as unregulated 501c3s to award no bid contracts to their friends, relatives, or in the case of a current Los Angeles School Board member, to their own consulting firm. Since members of the taxpaying public don't elect charter school boards, there exists a system that puts public money into private hands with no mechanisms to ensure even a modicum of transparency or oversight.
Furthermore, my alma mater, UCLA, has conducted several studies demonstrating that charter schools exacerbate segregation, and fuel the so-called "school to prison pipeline." A perusal of the studies compiled by UCLA's The Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles would cause any reasonable person to realize that decades of letting the revenue-stream-driven charter school industry "regulate" itself has resulted in an abject situation.
Therefore, I'm asking you to please support SB 808. This bill would give California’s democratically elected, local school boards the final say when it comes to the approval of charter school petitions. The present system takes away community control, forcing districts to navigate reduced budgets and high legal costs for schools over which they have no authority.
Schools that receive public dollars must be responsible to the public. Thank you.
Dear Robert D,
NPE and NPE Action have long been concerned about charter schools in California. You can read our NPE reports about them here.
Now there is a chance to make a small improvement. On April 26th, SB 808 comes up for a hearing before the Senate Education Committee.
This bill would give California’s democratically elected, local school boards the final say when it comes to the approval of charter school petitions. Under current laws, charter petitioners can appeal to state and county boards of education, thereby taking away community control, forcing districts to navigate reduced budgets and high legal costs for schools over which they have no authority. Meanwhile, charter schools often receive blank checks, in the form of pro-bono legal work, funded by the billionaire-backed lobbying group, The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA). We need to level the playing field, so that all schools which receive public funding are responsible and accountable in the same ways.
Here is what we need you to do.
1. Send an email to your Senator. We make it very easy- just click here.
2. Call the members of the Senate Education Committee and ask them to vote YES on SB 808.
• Benjamin Allen, Chair (Santa Monica) 916-651-4026
• Scott Wilk, Vice Chair (Santa Clarita) 916-651-4021
• Cathleen Galgiani (Stockton) 916-651-4005
• Connie M. Leyva (Chino) 916-651-4020
• Tony Mendoza (Artesia) 916-651-4032
• Richard Pan (Sacramento) 916-651-4006
• Andy Vidak (Hanford) 916-651-4014
Let them know that the taxpayers of California deserve local, democratically elected and accountable officials overseeing how their children are educated and tax dollars are spent. Let them know that you are tired of charter school scandals. California's children and taxpayers deserve better.
Thank you for all that you do.
Executive Director of NPE Action