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Gov. Newsom Announces Compromise on Charter School Legislation

September 9, 2019

On August 28, Governor Gavin Newsom and several legislative leaders announced a compromise agreement that appeared to ensure approval of a bill (AB 1505, introduced by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell) that adjusts several aspects of the process under which charter schools are approved and renewed in California.

At a press conference with Assembly Speaker Antony Rendon, state Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Newsom said: “We are pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached on AB 1505 – legislation that significantly reforms the Charter Schools Act to address longstanding challenges for both school districts and charter schools. This agreement focuses on the needs of our students. It increases accountability for all charter schools, allows high-quality charter schools to thrive, and ensures that the fiscal and community impacts of charter schools on school districts are carefully considered. We are grateful that leaders on both sides of this conversation worked hard to reach this agreement, as it is foundational to continuing to work in the interests of all California students.”

In a statement, the California Teachers Association acknowledged that it had “fiercely advocated” for passage of AB 1505, adding “our goals included ensuring locally-elected school board members have the discretion to make decisions to meet the needs of local students; allowing them to consider the fiscal impact of charter petitions, including the potential impact to programs and services currently provided to students; ensuring every student has a credentialed teacher in the classroom; and holding all taxpayer-funded public schools to the same high standards... We profoundly appreciate Assembly Member O’Donnell’s hard work on this bill and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s leadership and commitment to fixing the flawed decades-old laws.”

The California Charters Schools Association issued a statement saying that the compromise announced by Newsom included “important protections for existing high-quality charter public schools that have demonstrated success in closing the achievement gap, balancing students’ academic needs with fiscal impact considerations for new petitions, and restoring an appeals path to counties and the State Board of Education. CCSA’s decision to remove opposition to the bill follows extensive conversations with the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Teachers Association.” The CCSA’s position on AB 1505 is now “neutral.”

“We are committed to moving forward together to increase access to high-quality public schools of all types and for all kids – regardless of where they live, their race, income, or their educational needs,” said Myrna Castrejón, president and CEO, CCSA. “For 25 years, California’s charter public school movement has relentlessly run towards the greatest challenges in public education. Far too many of our most vulnerable students have been underserved by our current public school system, which is exactly why we’ve engaged in thoughtful conversations and shown a willingness to compromise on this important legislation.”

Changes to the charter school process in AB 1505 include:

  1. Giving greater discretion to local school boards when considering approval of new charter schools, including the ability for the local school board to consider the impact of a new charter school on the school district’s finances (something that school boards have not been allowed to consider in the past).
  2. All charter school teachers will not be required to hold some sort of state credential and undergo a routine background check.
  3. The state will impose a two-year moratorium on online charter schools.

There will be new limits on the ability of a proposed charter school to appeal denial of a charter by a local school board. But there is still a pathway remaining for a proposed charter to appeal a denial to the relevant county board of education and the State Board of Education under certain circumstances.

Source: Governor Newsom’s Press Office, California Teachers Association, California Charter Schools Association, EdBrief staff

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