On Thursday, October 3, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB
historic charter school reform bill that is essential to
ensuring charter schools are accountable to local communities and
all California students. The new law follows months of
incredible organizing and weeks of intense negotiations, during
which CFT leaders, members, and staff have stood with fellow
educators, school workers, parents, and students to push for
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond released
the much-anticipated Charter Task Force Report on June 7,
ahead of the July 1 deadline.
The report’s central focus is twofold: the fiscal impact that
charter schools have on traditional public schools and the
inconsistencies in how charter schools are authorized throughout
the state. Recommendations were made to alleviate concerns in
these areas and provide specific ways to address fiscal impact
and authorization challenges.
On April 10, over 80 CFT members took part in a successful
Legislative Day of Action in Sacramento. Educators and classified
professionals from throughout the state gathered at the capitol
to push for more accountability for charter schools and full
funding for public education. And despite aggressive tactics by
charter backers, we were successful in moving several important
bills through the Assembly Education Committee.
On February 25, CFT joined fellow educator and school worker
unions, the NAACP, and several concerned state lawmakers to
proposed legislation that would fix the laws governing
charter schools in California. The legislation, Assembly Bills
1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508, would ensure charter schools were
accountable to local communities and neighborhood schools.
Eight days after the six-day strike had ramped up public
pressure, the Los Angeles Unified school board passed a
groundbreaking resolution calling for a moratorium on new
charters in the district until Sacramento completes a study of
how their unchecked expansion has affected traditional schools.
The district also made a significant investment in local
Gemma Abels, the president of the Morgan Hill Federation of
Teachers, saw how for-profit charter schools hurt the children
and families in her district in Santa Clara County. A school
there, Flex Academy, operated by the largest for-profit charter
company – K12 Inc. – closed just a few weeks before school
started, leaving families scrambling to find places for their
I recently attended a forum with Secretary Treasurer Jeff Freitas
organized by the NAACP to examine charter schools. America’s
oldest civil rights organization is hosting a series of events
around the country to get feedback on a proposed national policy
calling for a moratorium on new charter schools.
The latest flashpoint in the big-money expansion by charter
school chains in Silicon Valley is Morgan Hill, a bedroom
community with rural roots just south of San Jose.
Within the last year both Rocketship Education and Navigator
Schools petitioned to open charter schools in the Morgan Hill
Unified School District. Following swift mobilization and
communication by the union and community groups, the school board
denied both applications.
Next week, the Santa Clara County Board of Education will hear
testimony on whether to increase the number of charter schools in
the Morgan Hill Unified School District, just south of San Jose,
based on a proposal from two charter corporations. The district
board has already turned down the idea, and the corporations
appealed to the county board.
Seeking a larger voice in their
workplaces, career stability and the power to better serve
their students, teachers and counselors at three charter schools
recently voted AFT as their union, and will have the benefit of
belonging to well-established and effective AFT local unions.
In 1988, the late Albert Shanker, then president of the AFT,
introduced the notion of charter schools to the American public
in a Press Cub speech in Washington, DC. Charter schools have
received support across the political spectrum.
Conservatives supported charter schools for a variety of reasons;
they believed that: