Finding the right school for your child can be difficult for any parent. As a single parent, that burden falls a little harder on me as the sole decision maker for my child. I have asked myself so many questions about her education, “Do I want my daughter to attend the same low performing schools that some of my family members attended? Would she be safe on campus? What is the alternative? Can I afford a private school? Probably not. Can I enroll her in a school close to my place of work?” These are the types of questions I’ve asked myself over the years. I imagine that even if you’re not a single parent, you have probably asked yourself some of the same ones.
When it came time for my daughter to start kindergarten I was faced with contemplating these tough decisions. I really didn’t know what I was going to do until a family friend recommended a public charter school that her daughter attended. She raved about how great the teachers and staff were, and how she felt that her daughter was in a safe place. This is especially important when you live in a community where the schools have a reputation for being dangerous for kids. I didn’t know much about charter schools at the time, but I found out after visiting the school that I could enroll my daughter in this free public school, even though it was not in my neighborhood. At that moment, I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders because I found a place that I felt was a safe and supportive environment, where my daughter could focus on learning.
Fast forward seven years later, my daughter is now in the 7th grade. Since the beginning of the pandemic last March she has been attending school via distance/remote learning like so many kids across the state. During the past year, she has discovered that she really likes online learning. It works for her mainly because my daughter has anxiety when it comes to attending school in person. Just before Covid hit, we discussed and considered enrolling her in an online program but we weren’t sure if it would work for us. The pandemic provided a good opportunity to test it out. After a few months, we found that online learning was a good fit. Her anxiety immediately subsided and she was able to start taking more ownership over her work. She especially liked being able to log on anytime and finish her assignments when she wanted. By the end of the semester, her grades had dramatically improved. I was happy to see her thrive academically and get her anxiety under control.
This was such a positive experience that we decided to enroll her in an online charter school for her last year of middle school this fall. However, now there are some legislators in California that are threatening to take away this opportunity for my daughter and other kids who have chosen online learning. AB 1316 is a new charter school bill that will further limit the number of students in California that can enroll in online charter schools. This would directly impact my daughter and her education.
Now you might be asking yourself, after over a year of online learning, why would anyone want to take these options away?
Not only will AB 1316 negatively impact online charter schools, but it will also impose additional fees to brick and mortar charter schools as well. This will take money out of the classroom, where we need it the most, especially post pandemic. It takes money away from students by tripling school oversight fees from 1% to 3%, and this will result in some schools having to close. When those schools close, where will those students go? Into overcrowded and low performing schools? Isn’t overcrowding our schools the opposite of what we want to do post pandemic? There has been a constant attack on charter schools the entire time that my daughter has attended one. I have been forced to become an advocate and voice for school choice because our state lawmakers consistently threaten the public schools, despite the fact that many lawmakers themselves enroll their own children and grandchildren in charter schools!
AB 1316 will also limit flexibility in school schedules for students who cannot attend school during normal hours, for example kids with chronic medical conditions, working students, teen parents, at-risk students, migrant students, and students with disabilities. At a time when many workplaces are embracing flexibility and innovation, why are we doing the opposite? After everything we have been through the last year, shouldn’t now be the time to fix a system that has not been working for the majority of students? Why are we preserving an archaic system that has been proven to be ineffective for more than half of the student population, instead of expanding the learning opportunities that have shown to be more effective? These are the things I ask myself. I fear the legislature will take my daughter’s positive and effective learning experience and force her into an anxiety ridden future.
AB 1316 could be up for a vote in the Assembly as soon as Tuesday. If you would like to take action and let your legislators know that you also oppose AB 1316, click the link below.
CCSA Link to Call Your Legislator:
Ed Voice Email Petition:
Speak UP Email Petition:
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