Dressed up in rhetoric of accountability, local control and transparency, Senate Bill 808 is little more than an attempt by California teachers unions to restrict charter schools.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, would limit opportunities for charter schools to be authorized and reauthorized, make it easier for charter applications to be denied and undercut the due process for charter applicants.
Charter schools are public schools with greater flexibility than traditional public schools. Typically organized by nonprofit public benefit corporations, the more than 1,200 charter schools across the state have been approved by either a local school district, a county school board or the state and remain subject to the same standards and laws traditional schools are held to. Unlike traditional public schools, charter schools may be shut down relatively quickly if they do not fulfill their obligations and promises to property educate students.
But rather than applaud the innovation and effectiveness of many charter schools, teachers unions like the California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers and United Teachers Los Angeles see them as something to be controlled.
SB808, described by the California Charter Schools Association as a “charter killer bill,” is designed to restrict opportunities for charters to be approved. Specifically, SB808 seeks to limit authorization of charter schools to local school districts, thus subjecting their approval to the whims of school boards which are too often influenced themselves by the same anti-charter teachers unions sponsoring SB808.
Numerous teachers unions across the state, including UTLA, Oakland Education Association, San Bernardino Teachers Association and Anaheim Secondary Teachers Association, joined together to launch a campaign aimed in part to push for moratoriums on charters in their respective school districts.
As evidence of their influence, last week, union-backed members of the Los Angeles Unified School District school board voted to back SB808 and other anti-charter bills.
On Wednesday, SB808 went before the state’s Senate Education Committee, where union-backed LAUSD board member George McKenna, who authored the district’s anti-charter resolution, testified in support of SB808 alongside UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl.
In his remarks, McKenna repeatedly stressed “local control” and the alleged need for districts to be the sole authorizers of charter schools, despite providing no evidence that the current system of approving charter schools in any way harms students.
“You’re going to hear opposition today from people who frankly who are philosophically aligned with Trump-DeVos,” declared Caputo-Pearl.
In contrast to the ideologically charged line from Caputo-Pearl, hundreds of students, parents and teachers from across the state showed up to express their opposition to SB808, with many noting the bill has nothing to do with enhancing…