Eric Heins, President California Teachers Association

Eric Heins, President California Teachers Association

Fresh off a victory in a lawsuit that would have changed state employment rules for teachers, the California Teachers Association is launching a statewide radio campaign calling for more “accountability and transparency” of California charter schools.

The campaign, which started Wednesday, is aimed at calling attention to “a small group of billionaires” the union says support charter schools to the detriment of traditional public schools.

“Public schools should be about students and inspiring young minds — not profits,” Eric Heins, president of the 325,000-member CTA, said in a statement. “Educators, parents and civil rights advocates have been talking about the need for accountability and transparency of these privately-run charter schools for some time. We can’t let a group of billionaires with no classroom experience push their profit-driven agenda on our public schools.”

The CTA’s campaign is called, “Kids Not Profits.”  The union  says it is designed to expose a “coordinated agenda by a group of billionaires to divert money from California’s neighborhood public schools to privately-managed charter schools” to “cherry-pick” students by “weeding out and turning down students with special needs” and to spend millions of dollars to influence the outcomes of local, legislative and school board elections. It is taking shape through a series of radio ads and a website with information about privately managed charter schools, their impact on students and the people who fund them. The first radio spots, in English and Spanish, are scheduled to air in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento.

The CTA’s effort comes in the wake of a major push by charter school advocates to dramatically expand charter enrollments in California.  A plan, apparently backed by the Broad Foundation, surfaced last August that would double the number of charter school students in Los Angeles Unified.  In March, the California Charter Schools Association announced its “March to a Million” campaign — to enroll one million California students in charter schools by 2022. That would almost double the current  charter  enrollment of 581,000 students — nearly 1 in 10 of all public school students in the state.

The California Charter Schools Association declined to comment on the CTA campaign.

The CTA said the billionaires spent more than $11 million in the recent June primaries on a range of state legislative and county office of education races as part of “the dark money networks used by the Koch brothers.”

As part of its campaign, the CTA and its allies are urging Gov. Jerry Brown to sign Assembly Bill 709 which would require greater financial transparency on the part of charter schools, and require them to be more open to public in their operations.  At a media briefing this morning sponsored by the CTA, California State Treasurer John Chang said the bill would be “the first step toward achieving the level of transparency that all families expect from their schools.”  Other participants included former principal and current Los Angeles Unified board of education vice president George McKenna and Anaheim Union High School District superintendent Michael Matsuda.

The CTA, the California Federation of Teachers and the state were co-defendants in the Vergara v. California lawsuit, which attempted to change several laws regarding teacher employment and tenure. After losing at the Superior Court level, the defendants won on appeal, a decision that stood when the California Supreme Court this month declined to hear the case.

Louis Freedberg contributed to this report.

Share Article

Comments (14)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * *

Comments Policy

We welcome your comments. All comments are moderated for civility, relevance and other considerations. Click here for EdSource's Comments Policy.

  1. bruce Hyrum Davidson 9 months ago9 months ago

    Instead of spending all this money bashing people who trying to make the schools better, spend the money on the students. It seems like I hear your ad over and over and over. By the way how much are you spending of the kids’ money?

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 9 months ago9 months ago

      Bruce: Any money that the union spends on this campaign would come out of teachers’ pockets, through dues, not money diverted from the classroom.

  2. Melissa Beynon 3 years ago3 years ago

    I have 5 kids (21 through 4 years old). I am so grateful for having the chance to enroll my kids in charter schools. I've noticed they are centered on the students and accommodating parents. It's like sending my children to a privately owned school, and I have more of an audience for my suggestions and concerns. I will NEVER put my kids back in regular school. Especially after dealing with the problem … Read More

    I have 5 kids (21 through 4 years old). I am so grateful for having the chance to enroll my kids in charter schools. I’ve noticed they are centered on the students and accommodating parents. It’s like sending my children to a privately owned school, and I have more of an audience for my suggestions and concerns. I will NEVER put my kids back in regular school. Especially after dealing with the problem bureaucracy of traditional schools and bad school environments, drug use, lax rules for phone use, indecent clothes and language, etc. for more than 16 years. It’s not a well efficient successful system anymore (Saddleback and Capistrano).
    Charter schools are a threat to regular public schools and the their union corruption. The unions are going to try and destroy choice of school for parents of course because it’s corruption.
    My sister (a fabulous teacher) is in Santa Ana district and makes $120,000 year with benefits. That district pays some teachers between $100,000 and $200,000. Look it up on transparentcaliforina.com website
    That’s a lot of money being paid to keep the Union in power at a low performing school in Santa Ana.
    The Homeschooling movement is very big now for reasons mentioned herein and it will continue to grow.

  3. Jen Mc kay 3 years ago3 years ago

    Watch “stupid in America ” then let’s talk about charter schools!

  4. Willy Wonka 3 years ago3 years ago

    CTA clearly IS the big money in education agenda politics. Look no further, there is your force for corruption

  5. Maria 3 years ago3 years ago

    The teachers union, UTLA, is doing all this because they are having a hard time in organizing charter school teachers. The union is the one that is all about the $$ not our children. My son went to a charter school since 6th grade, graduated with honors and now attends a 4 year university. He is a student with special needs. If he had attended a regular public school where they segregate special need students, … Read More

    The teachers union, UTLA, is doing all this because they are having a hard time in organizing charter school teachers. The union is the one that is all about the $$ not our children. My son went to a charter school since 6th grade, graduated with honors and now attends a 4 year university. He is a student with special needs. If he had attended a regular public school where they segregate special need students, then he never would’ve made it to the university.

    There is financial transparency and everything else because LAUSD is constantly auditing and overseeing charter schools. Charter schools survive and provide a better education to our children than the low performing public schools.

  6. Paul 3 years ago3 years ago

    The CTA has its own axe to grind, but this information campaign seems timely and necessary, given the charter school abuses that have been documented in the past few years. 1. American Indian: Using public funds to rent a school building owned by the then superintendent https://dianeravitch.net/2016/06/27/the-fate-of-oaklands-celebrated-american-indian-public-charter-school-after-the-diversion-of-3-8-million-to-someones-bank-account/ (Finding the OUSD investigation report is left as an exercise to the reader. I remember that it was an eye-opening read.) 2. LVCP: Launching a school in China (!); bringing visa students … Read More

    The CTA has its own axe to grind, but this information campaign seems timely and necessary, given the charter school abuses that have been documented in the past few years.

    1. American Indian: Using public funds to rent a school building owned by the then superintendent

    https://dianeravitch.net/2016/06/27/the-fate-of-oaklands-celebrated-american-indian-public-charter-school-after-the-diversion-of-3-8-million-to-someones-bank-account/

    (Finding the OUSD investigation report is left as an exercise to the reader. I remember that it was an eye-opening read.)

    2. LVCP: Launching a school in China (!); bringing visa students to the US and charging them tuition, as if they were attending a private rather than public school; and failing to make mandatory CalSTRS pension contributions on behalf of teachers

    http://reformourcharterschools.org/notices/

    3. Many California charter schools: Illegally admitting students other than by open admission or, when oversubscribed, by lottery

    https://www.aclusocal.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Report-Unequal-Access-080116.pdf

    (Reported here, by EdSource!)

  7. judith mosier 3 years ago3 years ago

    Please…it is time to stand up to money in politics…Let California lead the way!

  8. Wayne Bishop 3 years ago3 years ago

    Compare and contrast with Bill and Melinda Gates support for (read: inception through “authentic” assessments) Common Core State Standards. This is after a billion or so down the Small Schools Initiative rat-hole that he eventually realized was doing nothing. Common Core has been far more expensive but it is making things worse – hard to do but that’s how it is. Solution? More Gates’ billions.

  9. Roger L Grotewold 3 years ago3 years ago

    It is finally time for the CTA to step up to the plate, regarding Charter Schools. My original contention has always been that a number of very wealthy individuals are the ones mainly supporting Charter Schools. Their motive is profit, regardless of the negative impact it is having on our Public Schools in California. The negative slide in public school testing results is mainly because of this trend towards more Charter Schools. It is … Read More

    It is finally time for the CTA to step up to the plate, regarding Charter Schools. My original contention has always been that a number of very wealthy individuals are the ones mainly supporting Charter Schools. Their motive is profit, regardless of the negative impact it is having on our Public Schools in California. The negative slide in public school testing results is mainly because of this trend towards more Charter Schools. It is sad to realize that a profit motive is more important then improving Public Schools for our children. I look forward to the CTA becoming more and more active in supporting our Public Schools and opposing the the increase in Charter Schools in California.

    Replies

    • Don 3 years ago3 years ago

      The for-profit portion of charter schools as a whole is tiny.

      • Marc 2 years ago2 years ago

        It is a talking point to demonize the charter school model.

  10. CarolineSF 3 years ago3 years ago

    It'll be interesting to see how the education "reform" sector's billionaire-funded PR operation fights back against a campaign linking the education "reform" sector to billionaires. Read More

    It’ll be interesting to see how the education “reform” sector’s billionaire-funded PR operation fights back against a campaign linking the education “reform” sector to billionaires.

    Replies

    • Floyd Thursby 3 years ago3 years ago

      This is autopilot anti-charter. We need to be open-minded. We wouldn't need charters if the unions and far left supported reform based on one factor, Does it improve education for children? They aren't applying this standard. We don't look at what gets the best test scores. We are blindly following ideology. It's the same with the achievement gap. It's more important to support LIFO / Seniority and pretend … Read More

      This is autopilot anti-charter. We need to be open-minded. We wouldn’t need charters if the unions and far left supported reform based on one factor, Does it improve education for children? They aren’t applying this standard. We don’t look at what gets the best test scores. We are blindly following ideology. It’s the same with the achievement gap. It’s more important to support LIFO / Seniority and pretend everyone is trying their best even if they aren’t and that there are no disadvantages to not encouraging hard study, divorce, etc., even if stats show there are, and no groups we should emulate, even if they are. We’ve become ideology-obsessed and need to become results-obsessed.