Theresa Harrington
Achieve Academy charter school in Oakland.

In one fallout from the recently settled strike of teachers in Los Angeles, Gov. Gavin Newsom has called on State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond to establish a panel of experts to examine the impact of charter school growth on district finances.

The panel will have four months to look at the issue, and to report back to Newsom by July 1. Thurmond has not yet announced who will be on the panel, but its formation raises the likelihood that California’s charter school laws may undergo revision over the coming year.  This would be the first time there has been an in-depth look at the financial impact of charter schools since passage of California’s first charter law in 1992.

The issue was a concern of Newsom’s even before the L.A. teachers  strike, said Newsom spokesperson Brian Ferguson.

“As Governor Newsom stated in his first budget proposal, rising charter school enrollments in some urban districts are having real impacts on those districts’ ability to provide essential support and services for their students,” he said.

Under a 1998 state law, districts are not allowed to take into account the financial impact of a charter school on a district in deciding whether or not to grant them a charter. Charter advocates fear that removing this prohibition could have a dramatic impact on slowing charter school school expansion in the state.

Newsom’s creation of a panel to look into the issue appears a response to a resolution approved by the Los Angeles Unified school board last month as part of the agreement it reached with the United Teachers of Los Angeles and its striking teachers last month. The resolution called for a “comprehensive study” of various aspects of charter schools in the district, including their “financial implications.”

The resolution also called for an 8-to-10 month moratorium on new charter schools while the study was being conducted.  So far, however, Newsom has been silent on these latest calls for a moratorium.

In a statement, United Teachers of Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl, representing 33,000 teachers and other staff in the district, “applauded” Newsom for recognizing what it said was obvious:  that L.A. Unified and other districts across the state are being “financially strangled” by what it called the “unmitigated growth” of charter schools.

But it questioned the need for a panel, saying that an “immediate cap on charter schools is urgently necessary.” Large urban districts, it said, were “well past the saturation point for charter school growth.”

Similar calls for a cap or a moratorium are coming from other districts with a large proportion of students in charter schools. In Oakland, where teachers appear to be on the verge of a strike, the school board also has set as one of its priorities convincing lawmakers in Sacramento to impose a moratorium on charter expansion. And in the nearby West Contra Costa Unified District, which includes Richmond, the board will consider a resolution this week calling for a statewide charter moratorium.

L.A. Unified has the most charter schools in the nation, and the schools’ impact on the district’s overall budget remains a major cause of discontent among teachers. An estimated 112,000 students are enrolled in 225 nonprofit charter schools in the district. They comprise 18.7 percent of the district’s total enrollment.

Claudia Briggs, a spokesperson for the California Teachers Association, which represents over 300,000 teachers across the state, said that the CTA would be happy to participate in the panel Newsom has called for, and that Thurmond would be a “good person” to head it. She said that the proposed panel was a signal that Newsom “is doing exactly what he said he would do when running for governor — always put kids before profits.”

Kids Not Profits is the title of a campaign the CTA has been running for the past several years calling for more transparency in the operation of charter schools, and focusing on the role of multibillionaires, such as LA philanthropists Eli Broad, and others in promoting them.

The California Charter Schools Association, representing most of the 1275 charter schools in the state, declined to comment on the proposed panel.

Even as Newsom awaits the recommendations of the yet-to-be-formed panel by July 1, the Legislature could take action requiring greater transparency in charter school operations and financial reporting.

During his gubernatorial campaign and as recently as last month, Newsom indicated that he would sign legislation along those lines — legislation former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed several times during his governorship.

“The Governor is working closely with the Legislature to improve charter school transparency,” said Newsom spokesperson Ferguson, “because tax dollars spent on education should only support schools that are accountable to the public.”

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  1. Latham 4 months ago4 months ago

    Well, many of the charter school networks, are run by nonprofit charter organizations. Just around 34 charter schools in California are “for-profit” institutions. Majority of those “schools of choice” are publicly funded by government.

  2. Jen 6 months ago6 months ago

    I don’t want my children in a public school. There is not enough transparency or accountability in the classroom. They have proven themselves unable and unwilling to prioritize student safety and I want no part of the institution.

  3. denise hobbensiefken 6 months ago6 months ago

    United Teachers of Los Angeles says that L.A. Unified and other districts across the state are being “financially strangled” by what it called the “unmitigated growth” of charter schools. The ADA money belongs to my children – it does not belong to any school district. Parents should continue to choose where and how their children are educated. A Are we also going to begin to stop the growth of private schools? I … Read More

    United Teachers of Los Angeles says that L.A. Unified and other districts across the state are being “financially strangled” by what it called the “unmitigated growth” of charter schools. The ADA money belongs to my children – it does not belong to any school district. Parents should continue to choose where and how their children are educated. A
    Are we also going to begin to stop the growth of private schools? I wish school districts and the unions would spend their money and energy on looking at what they could do to improve their own outcomes instead of blaming charter schools.

  4. Michelle Gerson 7 months ago7 months ago

    Yes, I believe in improving the public school system, not in encouraging parents to enroll in Chart Schools, which will cause severe repercussions for the educational of all students. We need to put our money into schools that benefit all.

  5. Cindy 7 months ago7 months ago

    Governor, the money doesn’t belong to the district! The money belongs to the students! Students especially low income students have a right to a good education and should be able to go where they can get that education. Whether it is their district school or a charter school! It is a shame that school district care more about money that students! Maybe if they took a look at why students are leaving maybe they … Read More

    Governor, the money doesn’t belong to the district! The money belongs to the students! Students especially low income students have a right to a good education and should be able to go where they can get that education. Whether it is their district school or a charter school! It is a shame that school district care more about money that students! Maybe if they took a look at why students are leaving maybe they would work to fix what is wrong instead of blaming charters . My local school district is a mess . 50 kids to a class room kids sitting on the floor, lack of student discipline , a superintendent that is not always there, teachers working with out a contract, and more.

  6. Jefferson Krause 8 months ago8 months ago

    One thing I hope the panel will examine is the perverse impact of the Prop. 39 law that forces districts to give "reasonably equivalent" space to charters. This provision has been abused in countless ways by charters to do real damage to public schools. For example, my local 6-8 middle school is now crammed into buildings intended for grades 7 and 8, so that a K-5 charter can have the 6th grade wing. This provision … Read More

    One thing I hope the panel will examine is the perverse impact of the Prop. 39 law that forces districts to give “reasonably equivalent” space to charters. This provision has been abused in countless ways by charters to do real damage to public schools. For example, my local 6-8 middle school is now crammed into buildings intended for grades 7 and 8, so that a K-5 charter can have the 6th grade wing. This provision was hidden in an entirely unrelated ballot measure and must be changed in order to restore sanity to district facilities management.

  7. Eric Horton 8 months ago8 months ago

    Charters had their place decades ago, now they are profit center on tax dollars for the trustee's or shareholders of these "non-profits". To be blunt Charters were great for kids that weren't excelling with the norms of a traditional school. Now its White Flight and a "safe and special" for all the parents that want that false feeling of better and safer education......... its way past a time for a change and one that helps … Read More

    Charters had their place decades ago, now they are profit center on tax dollars for the trustee’s or shareholders of these “non-profits”. To be blunt Charters were great for kids that weren’t excelling with the norms of a traditional school. Now its White Flight and a “safe and special” for all the parents that want that false feeling of better and safer education……… its way past a time for a change and one that helps the whole community not the few that go to a charter.

  8. Sheila Jordan 8 months ago8 months ago

    This sounds like it could be an important panel especially if it is allowed to proceed quickly and given a real hearing. Wondering if there is a process for nominating someone. We have a long-term Oakland Ed researcher I’d like to put forward. Thanks for this report. Most of us had not heard about it yet.

    Replies

    • Louis Freedberg 8 months ago8 months ago

      No details about the panel have been released as of Feb. 9. We will update this report as soonas we hear anything.

  9. Kristey 8 months ago8 months ago

    Bottom line as a parent. If public schools were meeting the children’s Educational needs there would be no need for charters. They are not and my children’s education is too important to risk. We sacrifice, scrimp and save to be able to use a charter and it is worth it!

  10. CR 8 months ago8 months ago

    As a public school teacher who is now a non-profit charter school teacher, whose own children left public school to attend another charter school, this is not a competition. Charters are not competing with public schools as the CTA and many others would like to think. As several other comments have pointed out, charters are filling a NEED that exists due to deficits that exist in many public schools. Charters are accountable to the same … Read More

    As a public school teacher who is now a non-profit charter school teacher, whose own children left public school to attend another charter school, this is not a competition. Charters are not competing with public schools as the CTA and many others would like to think. As several other comments have pointed out, charters are filling a NEED that exists due to deficits that exist in many public schools. Charters are accountable to the same standards as traditional public schools by requiring state testing, regularly being audited, and ensuring quality work by students. Many studies show charter school students outperform public school students across the board, especially on state testing. My IEP child, for example, is being much better serviced in her charter school than her years in public school. I left public school as a teacher and moved to a charter because I can better provide service & teaching to children, as charters overall have more options, smaller class sizes, and much greater flexibility to help ALL kinds of learners. I have an aunt who teaches in LAUSD and she agrees with me. There are a lot of wasted funds and overlapping programs in public schools that should be better managed with greater oversight.

  11. Teacher 8 months ago8 months ago

    I can think of one very prominent charter school in the middle of the San Fernando Valley whose finances need to be examined. For a “non profit” school, they’re putting away millions of dollars into the bank, which don’t ever go to students or teachers.

  12. VR 8 months ago8 months ago

    Charter schools do not start or exist unless there is a need. If the districts in question were adequately serving the students, no parent would move their child from a district school to a charter school. Instead of spending money fighting charter schools, district money would be better spent improving their own schools in those areas. Look at the facilities, teacher experience and all around atmosphere of the LAUSD district schools … Read More

    Charter schools do not start or exist unless there is a need. If the districts in question were adequately serving the students, no parent would move their child from a district school to a charter school. Instead of spending money fighting charter schools, district money would be better spent improving their own schools in those areas.
    Look at the facilities, teacher experience and all around atmosphere of the LAUSD district schools in areas where there are a large amount of charters. Now look at LAUSD district schools in an area where there are not a lot of charters. My guess is you will find that the schools are better kept and staffed than the ones in the areas where there are a lot of charters.
    The charters are not the cause, they are the effect. Parents are going to send their children where they feel they will receive a better and safer education. Furthermore the teachers’ union is against charter schools because they are generally not unionized. The more schools that exist that are non-union, the less power they have. It is all about political power and nothing to do with children or their education and has no business being part of salary and benefit negotiations for district teachers.
    There is enough internal politics in schools that the unions adding more into the mix is intolerable.

  13. Eleanor Sledgewick 8 months ago8 months ago

    Charter schools will finally be held accountable.

  14. Mary Najera 8 months ago8 months ago

    If this is about kids first then why the emphasis on the financial impact and not on the quality of education the kids are getting? Bring it back folks: “Kids First” not financial impact first; it’s about bad education impact!
    Give us quality education in our district schools and I promise you our kids will come back! But don’t use finance as an excuse! Teach and then ask for a raise!

    Replies

    • Theresa 8 months ago8 months ago

      I totally agree with you!! But it’s also that the kids see that the teachers (not all of them, but a portion) in the public schools don’t seem to respond in a positive manner to their students and pay attention to them as much as they do in the charter schools. Also in Chester schools there aren’t that many problems with bullying and fighting. It’s all about money for these school districts. They … Read More

      I totally agree with you!! But it’s also that the kids see that the teachers (not all of them, but a portion) in the public schools don’t seem to respond in a positive manner to their students and pay attention to them as much as they do in the charter schools. Also in Chester schools there aren’t that many problems with bullying and fighting. It’s all about money for these school districts. They only want the kids in the public schools because they want the money.

      • MomandTeacher 7 months ago7 months ago

        This is false. Financial resources are needed to educate children. It's just ridiculous to assume any different, and as a teacher myself, I can tell you that a teacher with decent pay, a supportive administration and community, and in a resourceful school makes for an effective teacher. If we strip those things from the people who dedicate their lives to kids, we don't truly care about our children as a society. Also, I have to … Read More

        This is false. Financial resources are needed to educate children. It’s just ridiculous to assume any different, and as a teacher myself, I can tell you that a teacher with decent pay, a supportive administration and community, and in a resourceful school makes for an effective teacher. If we strip those things from the people who dedicate their lives to kids, we don’t truly care about our children as a society. Also, I have to question how you came to the conclusion that it is public schools who care about money over children and not charters. Who is profiting? Hint: It is not public schools…

    • Jillian 8 months ago8 months ago

      Financial impact directly impacts quality of a school. Sorry without finding it’s hard to get much accomplished. Also I worked for a charter for several years, and I can guarantee you it was nothing special, and the teacher turn over was horrible.

  15. Mike M 8 months ago8 months ago

    If the school districts teach their students well and have a higher graduation rate then who would go to charter schools. The school districts have a better facility and more resources than many charter schools. But the problem is the students in some school districts do not perform well and there is no innovation. As a parents, we need to look for another option for our children and we don’t want our kids to stay … Read More

    If the school districts teach their students well and have a higher graduation rate then who would go to charter schools. The school districts have a better facility and more resources than many charter schools. But the problem is the students in some school districts do not perform well and there is no innovation.
    As a parents, we need to look for another option for our children and we don’t want our kids to stay in a bad school with low performance. A charter school is another option. I don’t want to put my kids in private school and pay thousands a month.
    If the school districts don’t want students to go to the charter school then school districts need to get their act together to make their schools high performance schools and compete with charter schools. Who does not want their kids stay in a good school?
    The moratorium would not do anything good for students. The moratorium just would make the school districts’ bad performance to become worse because they would not have to worry about losing students to charter schools.
    I want my kids to be in a safe school, good school, with higher performance, and I would like the option available.

  16. isaac abdul haqq 8 months ago8 months ago

    This fiscal impact analysis is long overdue. The state's California School Financing Authority has floated millions of dollars in 30 year bonds for private charter school construction. These state bonds for charters compete with locally funded bonds earmarked for traditional schools. In effect, the state is overriding the authority of district taxpayers. Additionally, the charter bonds are for 30 year terms, but the charters are only approved in 5 year increments. … Read More

    This fiscal impact analysis is long overdue. The state’s California School Financing Authority has floated millions of dollars in 30 year bonds for private charter school construction. These state bonds for charters compete with locally funded bonds earmarked for traditional schools. In effect, the state is overriding the authority of district taxpayers.

    Additionally, the charter bonds are for 30 year terms, but the charters are only approved in 5 year increments. Who is responsible for the charter bond debt if the school is closed with 25 years left on the bond? The district. Furthermore, charters siphon funding from cash strapped districts. Those that do not improve student outcomes significantly should be closed. District performance parity should not be the metric for a charter’s continued operation, especially given the deleterious impact charters have on district funding, and thus traditional school performance.

  17. Ron Flenner 8 months ago8 months ago

    As a charter school developer/director for 20 years in this state I am always amused when the brick & mortar advocates point the finger at charter schools and call them the entities that cause the problems in California education. I can say with much experience that the charter schools I have started and managed saved a very large student population of highly-at-risk youth. But this very positive action is never mentioned and the charter schools … Read More

    As a charter school developer/director for 20 years in this state I am always amused when the brick & mortar advocates point the finger at charter schools and call them the entities that cause the problems in California education. I can say with much experience that the charter schools I have started and managed saved a very large student population of highly-at-risk youth. But this very positive action is never mentioned and the charter schools continue to be “the bad guys” in public education. The majority of the charter school community is already put educating all kids first and politics/money last.