Introduced on February 22, Assembly Bill 1505, or AB1505, would change many existing laws so that the creation a charter school would be more local. A charter school, for those who don’t know, is a publicly funded school established usually by parents or other community members.
While charter schools offer some benefits, they sometimes have a negative financial impact on public schools. For one, charter schools are sometimes operated by for-profit companies, part of corporate school reform. And, according to the Washington Post, charter schools are also associated with a plethora of problems such as increased segregation, profiteering, scandalous recruiting, and siphoning of public school funding. In fact, the Washington Post also stated that charter schools siphoned $25 million from public schools in 2017 alone. The large amounts of funding taken from public schools could be used to fund new school supplies and raise teacher salaries, but instead they are being given to easily corruptible charter schools.
Not only do charter schools siphon money but also teachers and students. With the higher pay that charter schools offer, they draw in more teachers that public schools need. These charter schools tend to not offer free food to low-income students, deterring financially unstable families from enrolling their student, essentially exacerbating economic segregation. Another major drawback of charter schools is their lack of accountability and transparency, particularly in their spending. Charter schools don’t have to prove that they spend any money of special education services.
Existing law requires that a petition to establish a charter school must be submitted to and approved by the State Board of Education. The recently introduced Assembly Bill 1505 would completely repeal those existing laws, making the approval of a charter school more local. Instead of the petition needing to be approved by the State Board of Education, it would need to be approved by the local county board of education. If passed, this bill would go into effect on January 1, 2020.
Other bills, such as AB1506, 1507, and 1508, would also limit the growth of charter schools. AB1506 would allow no more charter schools to be established unless an existing one closes. Similar to AB1505, this bill would go into effect on January 1, 2020. AB1507 would remove a district’s ability to place a charter school in another district. Under currently existing law, charter schools are not required to provide free food to students of need. According to Tia Shimada, director of programs at California Food Policy Advocates, more than 81,000 low-income students in California attend charter schools that don’t offer free or reduced-price food. AB1508 would change that and introduce the Breakfast After the Bell Program. This program would consist of awarding grants to school districts and charter schools to provide breakfast to students after the schoolday has begun.
If these bills were passed into law, the intended result would be more preservation of public school funding and more diversity in school districts. Better funding for public schools would not only lead to better-equipped schools, but also less incentive for good teachers to go to a charter school instead of a public school. If you have any feelings one way or the other about these bills, then consider contacting Governor Newsom [(916) 445-2841], Senator Steve Glazer [(916) 651-4007], or Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan [(925) 328-1515].