Parents Need to Know How a Bill Becomes Law in California

Do you know how a bill becomes law in California? Until a few years ago, I was not aware of the process, but I realized that I was not alone. Many of the bills passed by our state legislators affect our communities, yet we don’t have a say unless we get involved.

Do you know there are currently three legislative bills, proposed by assembly members, that will impact our charter community? The impact won’t be just in our city or county, but will affect our entire state! These bills are AB 1505, AB 1506, and AB 1507 and are scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Education Committee on Wednesday, April 10, 2019.

So what exactly are these bills?

  • AB 1505 (AB 1508 was combined with AB 1505): (O’Donnell) would eliminate all charter appeals, all statewide benefit chartering, and severely limits countywide benefit chartering. It will allow districts to deny existing and new charter schools based on the fiscal, academic, and facilities impact of charter schools on school districts. It would eliminate academic achievement as the most important factor when authorizing a school.
  • AB 1506: (McCarty) caps the number of new charter schools at the current number of charter schools in the state and would only allow a new charter school to open if another one is closed.
  • AB 1507: (Smith) would delete the authority of a charter to locate outside the jurisdiction or geographic boundaries of the chartering school district.

So how would these bills become law?

  • First, these assembly bills are related to education, so the bills must first be heard by the Assembly Education Committee and if they approve them, then the bills move to the Assembly floor.
  • Once on the assembly floor, all Assembly members from the entire state will vote on these bills.
  • If the majority approves these bills, then the bills move to the Senate Education Committee
  • If the Senate Education Committee approves the bills then the bills move to the Senate floor
  • Once on the state Senate floor, all State Senators from the entire state will vote on these bills
  • If the majority of State Senators approves the bills, then the bills are put on the governor’s desk for signature
  • Once the governor signs the bills, they become law, effective January 1, 2020 if passed this year.

These bills concern me personally and will affect my community tremendously. AB 1505 will take away our right to appeal. I worked with parents in my community to get my daughter’s current school approved in 2014. As I was involved in the process, I realized how much politics there is in our education system. Our local district denied our charter petition even though our petition was educationally sound. We appealed to the Santa Clara County Office of Education, where we received UNANIMOUS approval. If this bill was a law back in 2014, my daughter’s school would not have been approved due to the bureaucracy that exists in our education system. It will also give districts the ability to deny a charter petition (new or renewal) based on financial impact and will not look at the academic performance of existing charter. This is ridiculous!! My daughter’s current school is outperforming schools in our district, yet if this bill was a law last year, our renewal would have been denied since our local district has had financial difficulties for years even before charters existed! Yet this bill could have been used to shut down our school.

AB 1506 is a concern to me because it limits the options we have in our community. I am thankful that we have a great elementary school for my daughter, but honestly, we do not have many options for middle school and high school that provide high quality education in my community. My neighborhood K-8 school is failing our students, and I do not want to send my daughter there, knowing that students there are only 16% proficient in math and 21% proficient in literacy. If I am not lucky to win the lottery at one of the high performing charter middle schools in my community, such as KIPP Heartwood, which has 67% of students proficient in Math and 63% of students proficient in English, then I run out of options if this bill becomes law.

I’ve witnessed the bureaucracy with local districts who make it impossible to provide charter schools with location, under Prop 39 and AB1507 will make it even more difficult for charters to locate and serve families.

These bills are trying to shut down charters because teacher unions and school districts blame charter schools for the financial impact in their districts. The truth is that school districts have been failing our students since before charters existed and continue to fail our students of color and low income students now. No one is talking about fixing failing schools. No one is talking about how these bills will displace thousands of students. As a parent, I want to have the right to choose the best school for my daughter, but these bills are trying to take away my right to have high quality school options in my community.

This is not about charter vs. traditional schools, and it should not be portrayed that way in the media. The reality is that the debate about high quality school options in specific communities is a civil rights issue! When bills are written that will NEGATIVELY impact BLACK AND BROWN communities, it is called racism and classism! We need to work together for ALL students across our state and nation.

So what can we do to help save our schools? If you would like to oppose these bills, I encourage you to learn more, get involved, and ask your state representatives to stand for ALL students and prioritize kids, not politics! Click below to send email to your representatives now!

English: https://p2a.co/4eeNUXA

Spanish: https://p2a.co/KGu3nCG

Vietnamese: https://p2a.co/jQnjFXI

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Lety Gomez

Lety Gomez

Lety Gomez was born and raised in East San Jose. She is married with three children. She graduated from University of Phoenix with a bachelor’s degree in Business/Accounting. When she was a teenager, Fr. Mateo Sheedy was the pastor of her parish, Sacred Heart of Jesus. She fondly remembers his passion for social justice, especially justice for the immigrant community in San Jose and ensuring that the parish youth had access to high quality education. Fr. Mateo instilled in her his passion for social justice, but for many years it was kept unlit, deep inside of her. It wasn’t until her youngest daughter was enrolled at Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep in 2014 that her passion for social justice lit up. Thanks to the Rocketship parent organizer at that time, Lety received training and the tools to use her voice for social justice and learned about community organizing. She is proud to be one of the many parents who worked hard to open their school, knowing that the kids needed and deserved a better public school. That struggle is why they named their school Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep. “Fuerza” is the Spanish word for force, strength, or power. Her passion for advocating for education has allowed her to be a voice for other parents in her community who seek high quality education options. She wants to share her story with other parents in efforts to motivate them to get involved so they can advocate together, because united they can make a change in the educational system and in their communities. Lety is currently a community leader in East San Jose, where she advocates for equity in public education and parent choice.

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