Radio Ads and Website Support Legislation for More Charter School Accountability and Expose Billionaires’ Agenda to Divert Money from Neighborhood Public Schools
Contacts: Claudia Briggs at 916-325-1550 or Mike Myslinski at 650-552-5324
BURLINGAME – California’s educators launched the “Kids Not Profits” campaign today, calling for more accountability and transparency of California charter schools and exposing the coordinated agenda by a group of billionaires to divert money from California’s neighborhood public schools to privately-managed charter schools. These billionaires are spending record amounts of money to influence local legislative and school board elections across the state.
The campaign is launching with a series of radio ads and an informative website – www.KidsNotProfits.com – where parents and the public can get more information about privately-managed charter schools, their impact on students, the billionaires behind them and take action to demand accountability, transparency and equal access for all students. A coalition of education, civil rights and community organizations is supporting legislation that is now headed to Governor Brown for his signature. The first radio spots are running in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento. Listen to the English and Spanish radio ads here.
“Public schools should be about students and inspiring young minds – not profits,” said Eric Heins, president of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association. “Educators, parents and civil rights advocates have been talking about the need for accountability and transparency of these privately-run charter schools for some time. We can’t let a group of billionaires with no classroom experience push their profit-driven agenda on our public schools.”
The radio ad lays out the billionaires’ coordinated agenda to:
- Divert money out of California’s neighborhood public schools to fund privately-run charter schools, without accountability or transparency to parents and taxpayers.
- Cherry-pick the students who get to attend charter schools – weeding out and turning down students with special needs.
- Spend millions trying to influence local legislative and school board elections across California.
In the June primary election, this small group of billionaires spent more than $11 million in several state legislative and county office of education races. This network of billionaire donors mirrors the dark money networks used by the Koch brothers. In fact, many of the same donors were directly implicated in an illegal dark money scheme in 2012. This group promised to spend even more in the November election and have already begun writing big checks.
Recent news headlines and academic studies have documented the waste, fraud and abuse by privately-managed charter schools that have cost taxpayers millions while hurting students. An ACLU report, “Unequal Access,” found that more than 20 percent of California’s charter schools deny access to students with disabilities, English learners, or students who have lower grades and test scores. The NAACP recently called for a ban on privately managed charters. State regulators have found more than $81 million in fraudulent and wasteful spending at charter schools in California, while another report shows that an expansion of privately-run charter schools would cost the Los Angeles Unified School District more than $500 million this year alone.
The coalition is calling on Governor Brown to sign AB 709. This bill requires all charter schools to be transparent and accountable to parents and to disclose how they spend taxpayer money, including budgets and contracts. It prohibits charter school board members and their families from profiting from their schools, and requires charter schools to comply with California’s open meetings, open records and conflict of interest laws.
The coalition also supported SB 322, which prohibits charter schools from having discriminatory admission requirements to prevent them from cherry-picking the students they want and turning away students that need extra help, such as special education students, students learning English or students with low academic performance. It also ensures uniform disciplinary actions for all students by requiring charter schools to identify a list of acts for which students can be suspended or expelled, as well as setting a maximum length for suspensions. This bill failed on the Assembly floor late yesterday.
“CTA proudly represents more than 5,000 charter school educators and is working with many others who want to join with us in standing up for students and accountability,” said Heins. “When the charter law was passed in California, no one ever intended it to be a playground for billionaires who want to profit off students and push their agenda on the rest of us. It’s time to hold charter schools and their private operators accountable to some of the same standards as traditional public schools.”
The 325,000-member California Teachers Association is affiliated with the National Education Association.