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Charter Schools

Charter schools are established to increase learning opportunities for all students with special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for academically challenged pupils. Charter schools should provide students, parents and CTA members with educational opportunities in a public-school setting. All charter school employees should be organized to ensure both quality education for students and professional rights for school employees.

Accountability and Transparency
CTA believes that charter schools must comply with all state required accountability and testing requirements. Additionally, charter schools must comply with laws promoting transparency and accountability to parents and the public in the operation of public schools and expenditure of public funds. We need to ensure complete transparency in our schools by requiring companies and organizations that manage charter schools to release to parents and the public how they spend taxpayer money, including their annual budgets and contracts. Public agencies must take their actions openly and their deliberations must be conducted openly, because families deserve to know how their schools are being run. Companies and organizations that manage charter schools must open board meetings to parents and the public, similarly to public school board meetings.

Equity and Student Access
Charter schools are part of the statewide public-school system, and must have nondiscriminatory admission policies, as well as suspension and expulsion policies that guarantee all students appropriate due process rights. Any practices that serve to weed out certain children or families – whether intentional or unintentional – are not acceptable and must be eliminated. All children in California should be entitled to equal access to all public education opportunities, including charter schools. CTA opposes charging tuition or any things of value as a requirement for attendance at the charter school, and charter schools must not intimidate a student or parent when asking for voluntary contributions. Parental involvement and voluntary service should be encouraged but must not be a condition of enrollment. No charter school should discriminate against a student because of race, language, color, national origin, religion, gender/gender identification, sexual orientation, disability, marital status or economic status. Nor should they discriminate against any student because of educational need, academic performance, or any other form of preferential selection. CTA believes that charter schools must comply with the laws and procedures governing school districts relating to the suspension and expulsion of pupils.

Local Control
School districts develop priorities and plans with input from all stakeholders including parents, students, teachers, and community members. CTA opposes practices of certain county offices of education and the State Board of Education in summarily overruling rigorous evaluations of charter petitions by local school boards, because it undermines local control. Because of the significant investment in time and resources reviewing proposed charter school petitions prior to accepting or rejecting a petition, the local school board is best equipped to make decisions regarding education programs and needs within its jurisdiction. CTA believes that the granting of charters must only be through school districts with democratically elected school boards for schools within the boundaries of the school district, and that appeals to the school district’s denial of a petition must be only for due process reasons.

Charter Management Organizations

The primary function of charter schools is to establish locally-driven pedagogical innovation that supports California’s system of public education. Increasingly, charter schools are operated by large charter management organizations (CMO), without sufficient oversight and far from the school communities they are meant to serve. The structure of a CMO is intended to replicate a model of schools rather than establish locally-driven innovation; they are intended to compete with, rather than support, neighborhood public schools. With billions being spent on California’s system of public education, it is long past time we dissect how different sectors support each other to maximize the investment of taxpayers. A moratorium should be established on charter schools run by CMOs until the state has a better understanding of the impact and role that CMOs have within public education.

Every segment of California’s public education system must be designed to work in concert to ensure every student can reach their full potential. CTA believes that the funding of charter school facilities shall not negatively impact the education program of the school district in which the charter school is located. Billions of dollars are spent annually in tax dollars or taxpayer subsidized funding for California’s charter schools to lease, build, or buy school buildings. CTA opposes using public funding on schools built in neighborhoods that have no need for additional classroom space, and which offer no improvement over the quality of education already available in nearby public schools. Additionally, CTA believes that charter schools must operate facilities consistent with the Field Act or other similar public safety standards as applied to buildings of public access similar to public schools. Educational employees are entitled to work in safe, sanitary and healthy environments. Public school buildings must meet modern earthquake standards and have adequate light, heat/air conditioning, and ventilation.

Eliminating Profit Motives in Public Education
CTA opposes using public funds to purchase private property in the charter school environment. When not- for-profit charter schools are created by local, democratically elected school boards, they provide students, parents and CTA members with educational opportunities in the public-school setting. CTA believes that the approval of and operation of charter schools must be free of conflicts of interest and profiteering. Charter school board members and their immediate families must not benefit financially from their schools. Public schools’ conflict of interest laws and disclosure regulations should apply to charter schools that receive public funds.

(August 2017)

Every child deserves a chance to learn and no child succeeds alone.

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