Dear Governor Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalikis; Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon, Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell; State Senator Pro Tem Toni Atkins; State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond; State Controller Betty Yee; State Treasurer Fiona Ma; and State Attorney General Xavier Bacerra,

We are taxpayers, parents, students, and concerned Americans, and we support the call for a statewide moratorium on approval of charter schools (SB 756) until transparency, accountability, and local control provisions not already in the current approval process are established.

While there are some charter schools that are locally approved, are transparent with their budgets including posting executive salaries, and are accountable to the public, the vast majority of charter schools have taken advantage of taxpayers through weak charter laws and lax oversight by state and county officials.

Studies show that in school districts where teacher unions recently went on strike, Oakland and Los Angeles, charters defund Oakland public schools by $57.3 million a year, and defund Los Angeles public schools by $600 million a year. It is estimated well over 100,000 community, parent, student, and teacher supporters of public education marched in support of public schools in both cities in the first quarter of 2019.

Since 2006, the California state agency Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT)
 has audited charter schools and identified $81 million in fraud, waste, and abuse. Other school budget experts estimate $100 million lost to corruption by California charter operators in 2015 alone. (Source: http://populardemocracy.org/sites/default/files/Charter-Schools-California-Report-b.pdf)

Thank you for passing SB126 which makes the Brown Act apply to charter schools, who must now keep public records, hold open meetings, and bar operators and key staff from conflicts of interest.

However, under current law, charter schools are not required to:

  • Have transparent budgets and salaries
  • Ensure facilities are asbestos and lead free
  • Ensure local support and adequate resources for students with disabilities
  • Have locally elected board members
  • File a fiscal, academic, or facilities impact report on surrounding public and charter schools in a petition for authorization
  • Ensure parental oversight through School Site Councils and English Learner Advisory Committees
  • Ensure teachers hold a Commission on Teacher Credentialing certificate, permit, or other document equivalent to that which a teacher in other public schools would be required to hold
  • Maintain adequate cash reserves as required of public schools

Because of these loopholes, many charter operators are gaming the system and are in it to make money with little regard to children’s education.  Corruption is such that the largest charter school operator in America, with schools in California, is operated by foreign nationals without taxpayer knowledge and virtually no oversight.

This has got to stop.

As taxpayers and Americans, we deserve better. Our children deserve better.

Therefore, we respectfully request that you remedy these problems through your legislative authority, and pass the strongest versions of AB 1505, AB 1506, AB 1507, and SB 756 that you can, with input from grassroots public school communities all over California.

Strong Transparency, Accountability, Local Control for Charter Schools

To Our California State Public Officials

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Sign the Petition

Lawmakers, please pass strong charter accountability bills for the 2019-2020 legislative session! These include AB 1505, 1506, 1507, 1508.

1,959 signatures

Strong Transparency, Accountability, Local Control for Charter Schools

To Our California State Public Officials

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