Dear Governor Jerry Brown, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Assemblymembers Anthony Rendon, Patrick O’Donnell; State Senator Carol Liu; State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, State Controller Betty Yee, State Treasurer John Chiang, and State Attorney General Kamala Harris,
We are taxpayers, parents, students, and concerned Americans, and we support the call for a temporary moratorium on approval of charter schools until transparency, accountability, and local control provisions not 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.
Since 2006, the California state agency Financial Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) has audited charter schools and identified $81 million in fraud, waste, 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)
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
- Abide by freedom of information requests
- 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. The largest charter school operator in America 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.