Credit: photo by Alison Yin for EdSource (2017)

A new task force that will examine the financial impact of charter schools and report back to Gov. Gavin Newsom by July 1 met for the first time privately on March 7

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond led the meeting, at Newsom’s request, and will chair the 11-member Charter Task Force. They include four individuals representing the state’s 1,300-plus charter schools, four public employee union representatives and three school district and county office of education representatives, including San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten. Thurmond appointed the members in consultation with the governor’s office, according to a press release.

The group met two days after Newsom signed into law new transparency and public disclosure requirements for charter schools — legislation that the governor quickly navigated through the Legislature. At the signing ceremony, Newsom declined to commit to further restrictions on charter schools, such as a moratorium on further expansion that striking teachers and school boards in Los Angeles and Oakland have demanded, saying instead that he would await the study group’s recommendations. 

In a statement, Thurmond said, “We plan to research data and facts, and will review the fiscal impact and authorization process of charter schools. But more importantly, we are going to do this with thoughtful intention and through the lens of identifying what is truly best for kids.

The task force members are:

  • Cristina de Jesus, president and chief executive officer, Green Dot Public Schools California.
  • Dolores Duran, California School Employees Association.
  • Margaret Fortune, California Charter Schools Association board chair; Fortune School of Education, president & CEO.
  • Lester Garcia, political director, SEIU Local 99.
  • Alia Griffing, political director, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 57.
  • Beth Hunkapiller, educator and administrator, Aspire Public Schools.
  • Erika Jones, board of directors, California Teachers Association.
  • Ed Manansala, superintendent, El Dorado County and board president, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association. 
  • Cindy Marten, superintendent, San Diego Unified School District.
  • Gina Plate, vice president of special education, California Charter Schools Association.
  • Edgar Zazueta, senior director, policy & governmental relations, Association of California School Administrators. 

Aspire, Green Dot and Fortune are among the larger and better known California-based charter school organizations and run multiple schoolsEmployee unions, including the CTA, have been the most vocal in calling for cutting back on new charter schools. 

Thurmond did not announce the appointees until after the first meeting. That meeting and and others will not be open to the public, according to Thurmond’s office. The task force will meet weekly. 

Thurmond and Newsom said during their campaigns last fall they were concerned about the financial impact of charter schools, particularly in urban districts, such as Los Angeles and Oakland, where they are most concentrated. Newsom reiterated that point at the bill signing on Monday. 

Under the current charter school law, school boards are not permitted to include fiscal impact in granting a charter school. Assembly Bill 1508, which has yet to be fleshed out, would permit school boards to consider it as a factor. Assemblyman Rob Bonta, a Democrat whose district includes Oakland, is the primary author. Other bills would eliminate the right of charter schools to appeal rejections to the county and the State Board of Education and set a tight cap on the growth of charter schools. 

Newsom on Monday said he would play an active role as a “conduit” in deciding whether there would be additional curbs, if any, on charter school growth.

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  1. Anne White 9 months ago9 months ago

    Note that there are no school board members on the Task Force. Board members get the heat when there is a problem. We should be part of the solution.

  2. edfundwonk 9 months ago9 months ago

    I would like to know how this task force is able to skirt the state’s open meeting laws.

  3. CarolineSF 9 months ago9 months ago

    Their path is clear: Allow school boards to reject a charter proposal if the board believes the charter will harm the district's schools and students, with no limits on boards' right to do so; and totally eliminate the process of appealing to county boards of ed and state Board of Ed. Easy! This obviously smart, fair and correct repair of the process should take one short meeting. Then the need to work further on making … Read More

    Their path is clear: Allow school boards to reject a charter proposal if the board believes the charter will harm the district’s schools and students, with no limits on boards’ right to do so; and totally eliminate the process of appealing to county boards of ed and state Board of Ed. Easy! This obviously smart, fair and correct repair of the process should take one short meeting. Then the need to work further on making it more reasonable to close a problem charter, since charters have been so generously slathered with Teflon for years now that it’s practically impossible to shut down even an outrageously awful one.

    The charter sector’s claims that school board members have some unfair reason for opposing charters are ridiculous, and thought leaders, media and officials – at least those not benefiting from charter megabucks – are absurdly gullible not to instantly recognize that. (And let’s just be clear that those “not recognizing it” because they’re benefiting from charter megabucks are flat-out corrupt.)

    If a school board member is a genuinely good, honest person who cares about the best for kids and genuinely believes a charter will benefit the district and for students, obviously that good, honest board member will support the charter. If a school board member is an unscrupulous, conscienceless, ruthlessly ambitious lout who cares only about his/her own political future, and sees a charter proposal as a potential success, obviously that unscrupulous, conscienceless, ruthlessly ambitious school board member would support the charter and hitch his/her star to it so as to be able to tout the achievement in future campaigns. So who is the imaginary school board member who opposes a promising charter proposal out of jealousy or for some other unprincipled, venal reason? This hooey has been coming out of the charter sector for nearly 20 years (since the Edison Schools days, at least) and makes no sense. Why should elected school board members not be allowed to decide what’s best for students and their district? That’s what they’re elected to do.

    Replies

    • Ted 6 months ago6 months ago

      … as long as it’s just as easy to shut down a public school when it is obviously performing badly. Right?

  4. el 9 months ago9 months ago

    Do we have figures for churn in California charter schools? IE, how common is it for charter schools to open and close in a short time, versus charter schools that are long term stable, and how does that impact kids?

    Replies

  5. Mike McMahon 9 months ago9 months ago

    And two major stakeholders are missing from the task force. No one is representing the California School Board Association. Any policy change should have the major decision maker at the table representing school board members. Finally, there needs to someone to represent parents of under performing school districts. Regardless of the fiscal conditions, if the school districts are not performing at an equitable level, parents need a voice at the table.