On Tuesday, four Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) board members supported a resolution that would endorse three bills in the state legislature that seek new regulations on charter schools. Board members McKenna, Schmerelson, Vladovic, and Zimmer, in a 4-3 vote, decided to back Resolution 089-16/17.
Resolution 089-16/17 means that the district is supporting three anti-charter school bills in the state legislature. AB 1360 would prohibit discriminatory admissions practices and make sure that all students have due process rights when it comes to discipline in charter schools. We don’t want discriminatory admissions and disciplinary policies. AB 1478 involves accountability and making sure that charter school operators are open meetings and open records laws. The goal of this bill is accountability, which is something that most people want to see and would probably support. Everyone likes to see how money is spent and how decisions are being made when it comes to educating children. But the most anti-charter of the proposed state bills is SB 808, which would require that charter schools be authorized by the school district in which the schools would be located.
SB 808, which is being championed by State Senator Tony Mendoza, is considered a charter school killer. It prevents charter schools from appealing decisions from local districts to the state or county boards of education. In essence, the buck would stop with the local district. District boards could also stop charters if the board finds that additional charters would create a financial burden. Many districts have financial obligations related to employee benefits, so the financial burden argument could be invoked frequently to stop charter schools from opening and continuing to operate.
We want students to have the option of attending quality public charter schools. These LAUSD Board members are showing their loyalty to the teacher’s union and the bureaucracy. Accountability and accessibility is a two-way street. Yes, charter schools should be held to high accountability and transparency standards, but the same holds for traditional schools and the districts that govern them. Parents and students need to be able to access choice when they want to, and they should be able to appeal beyond the district level if they feel that the existing schools are inadequate to obtain a quality public education. One of the main reasons why charter schools exist in California is because a lot of traditional schools were not held accountable.
It’s unfortunate that some LAUSD board members opt to side with special interests who promote due process for school employees when it comes to hiring and human resources, but don’t want to give students and parents similar due process rights in the pursuit of quality education.
We should note that SB 808 has been stalled because of a meeting that Senator Mendoza attended with charter school supporters. Senator Mendoza is asking that the Senate Education Committee not vote on this bill until he has worked on the concerns that charter school supporters have expressed.
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