What You Need to Know About California Public Charter Schools
Millions of parents and students throughout our United States of America are choosing, of their own free will, the public charter school choice because it is better meeting the needs, interests, and goals of millions of students. In California, about 10% of the public school student population (or approximately 600,000 of the 6.3 million K-12 public school students) is now attending public charter schools, with another 175,000 students on public charter school waiting lists. Because of the growing expansion and popularity of the California public charter school choice, those who are threatened by public charter school success have launched an anti-charter school propaganda campaign whose goal is to destroy the public charter school choice.
Make no mistake. This battle being waged by several in the status quo education establishment against public charter schools is fundamentally a battle against parent and student public school choice. This battle is about the fundamental rights of you, parents and students, to access a variety of FREE public school choices to ensure that ALL students have equal opportunity and access to be successfully prepared for 21st century college and career pathways. At the core of this battle is your fundamental right to choice which public school or program best meets your needs. The future has two options: Parent and student public school choice vs. oppressive conformity to a limited system dictated by the status quo education establishment. Remember this fundamental principle: the absence of choice leads to oppression.
Stand up and defend your fundamental, constitutional right to choose the best public school for your children! Choice is the greatest equalizer for all students to access a quality education! Don’t buy into the negative propaganda lies being purported by several in the status quo education system. Be informed. Know and understand what is at stake in this battle.
Ten Key Points About California Public Charter Schools: A Summary of What You Need to Know
Here are 10 key fact-based points regarding what you, the public, need to know about public charter schools so that you may be armed with the truth to stand up for your fundamental rights to public school choice. Public charter schools equal parent and student public school choice!
The Will of the State of California Affirms Parent and Student Choice Through Public Charter Schools
It is the Will of the California State Legislature and the People of California in Enacting Charter School Law for Public Charter Schools to Offer Public School Choices for Parents, Students, Teachers, and Communities. To quote California public charter school education code statute, here is why we have public charter schools in California:
- 47601: “It is the intent of the Legislature, in enacting this part, to provide opportunities for teachers, parents, pupils, and community members to establish and maintain schools that operate independently from the existing school district structure, as a method to accomplish all of the following:
(a) Improve pupil learning.
(b) Increase learning opportunities for all pupils, with special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for pupils who are identified as academically low achieving.
(c) Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods.
(d) Create new professional opportunities for teachers, including the opportunity to be responsible for the learning program at the schoolsite.
(e) Provide parents and pupils with expanded choices in the types of educational opportunities that are available within the public school system.
(f) Hold the schools established under this part accountable for meeting measurable pupil outcomes, and provide the schools with a method to change from rule-based to performance-based accountability systems.
(g) Provide vigorous competition within the public school system to stimulate continual improvements in all public schools.”
Public charter schools are intentionally designed to operate independently from school districts to provide different kinds of public school choices for parents, students, teachers and communities so that all students have more equal opportunity to access a quality public school to help them succeed!
ALL California Charter Schools are Tuition-Free Public Schools
ALL California Public Charter Schools are Tuition-FREE public schools. There are absolutely no private charter schools in California. To quote California public charter school statute:
47615.(a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) Charter schools are part of the Public School System, as defined in Article IX of the California Constitution.
(2) Charter schools are under the jurisdiction of the Public School System and the exclusive control of the officers of the public schools, as provided in this part.
(3) Charter schools shall be entitled to full and fair funding, as provided in this part.
(b) This part shall be liberally construed to effectuate the findings and declarations set forth in this section.
Nearly ALL California Public Charter Schools Are Operated as Non-Profit Organizations
Ninety eight percent (98%) of all California Public Charter Schools operate as non-profit organizations. Only about 2% (or around 25) of the approximate 1,200 California public charter schools are operated by for-profit management companies. For profit influence over California public charter schools is minimal.
ALL California Public Charter Schools MUST BE AUTHORIZED by a Separate Oversight Entity Within the Public School System
California public charter schools must be authorized and overseen by one of three traditional public school system entities: a local school district; a local county office of education, or the California State Board of Education. In California the authorizing entity is ultimately responsible for charter school oversight to ensure that each charter school is meeting the mission, vision, and stated goals of its charter. The “charter” is the document that the public charter school submits to its authorizer for approval (and for each five year renewal thereafter), and contains the school’s mission, vision, and all of the required elements that describe its educational program, operations, budget, and goals for the students it intends to serve. It is important to note that, in many cases, states like California have created authorizing entities (school districts especially) that can be inherently adversarial and hostile towards the charter schools they are charged with authorizing, because these entities view the charter schools they are responsible for authorizing as real or potential threats and competition. While this independent oversight does hold the public charter school to a higher level of accountability, an adversarial relationship from an authorizer that should, in practice, be a supportive partner, can make the climate for public charter schools uniquely challenging and difficult. Imagine, for example, that WalMart is given granting authority over whether Target can locate across the street from them, and has further authority to close down Target if it does not like the way it is operating or if it believes that Target is taking away its customers. Does any consumer in the general public think that makes sense or that such a structure is in the best interests of consumers?
ALL California Public Charter Schools are PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF CHOICE
Public Charter Schools cannot force or mandate that any students attend their charter schools. Parents and students who believe that public charter schools are a better match for their child’s needs and interests are invited to choose public charter schools of their own free will. They are free to leave their public charter school at any time and choose another type of public school if they prefer. The negative propaganda narrative of charter school hater groups that public charter schools “steal” students and money from the public education system is a blatant scare tactic and is absurd.
ALL California Public Charter Schools MUST ENROLL ALL STUDENTS Who Wish to Attend
To quote California public charter school statute (47605): “A charter school shall admit all pupils who wish to attend the school.” Period! California charter School law states this requirement emphatically, unless a charter school has reached its enrollment capacity as determined by each Charter School Board. As enrollment space becomes available, charter schools hold a fair public lottery to determine which students on their waiting list are next in line to enroll.
ALL California Public Charter Schools WELCOME AND SERVE ALL STUDENTS
By law, California public charter schools cannot discriminate against students. To quote California public charter school statute (47605): “a charter school shall be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and all other operations, shall not charge tuition, and shall not discriminate against a pupil on the basis of the characteristics listed in Section 220.”
ALL California Public Charter Schools Are Granted by the California State Legislature GREATER FLEXIBILITY From Overbearing Rules and Regulations than District Operated Public Schools in Exchange FOR GREATER ACCOUNTABILITY
Freedom from overbearing rules and regulations provide public charter schools with the flexibility to create more innovative and specialized programs for many students for whom district-operated public schools are not a good match for success. This benefits all of public education, as states have intended through charter school laws, to foster opportunities that these innovative practices be adopted by district run public schools. However, in exchange for this flexibility, Public Charter Schools must seek renewal of their charters every five years and must meet academic performance thresholds in order to be renewed. Public Charter Schools must also abide by strict financial and operational guidelines and can be revoked if they fail to uphold those standards. District-operated public schools are never revoked or closed for ethical, financial, or other types of public trust violations, and never go through a renewal process subject to academic performance standards.
California Public Charter School Teachers ARE Qualified, Professional Educators
California public charter school teachers are properly trained, qualified, and credentialed professional educators just as are their colleagues in district-operated public schools (as required by individual state law and Federal mandates). To quote California public charter school statute (47605): “Teachers in charter schools shall 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. These documents shall be maintained on file at the charter school and are subject to periodic inspection by the chartering authority. It is the intent of the Legislature that charter schools be given flexibility with regard to non-core, non-college preparatory courses.”
California Public Charter Schools INVOLVE AND PARTNER WITH Parents, Teachers, and Community Members in Their Decision-Making Process
Public Charter School Boards are often comprised of teacher, parent, and community representatives that stand up for and represent what is in the best interest of students and communities. The negative propaganda narrative of charter school hater groups that, because these Board members are not publicly elected it is somehow “privatizing” public education, is absurd. What these hater groups are really saying is that these Public Charter School Board appointments are beyond their power to control and rig public elections as they are accustomed to by funneling their special interest money into the elections with the sole intent of planting puppets who will do their special interest bidding onto charter school boards. Public charter schools have diverse public representation that is free from influence of status quo public education system special interest groups. That independence from special interest influence and coercion is what is in the best interest of students and the school’s communities! Aren’t most Americans sick of special interest groups influencing politics and politicians so they no longer represent the best interests of We, The People? The exact same principle of special interest influence against the will of the people applies in public education!
Public Charter Schools and Your Fundamental Rights to Public School Choice Are Under Extreme Attack
California public charter schools are currently under attack by an aggressive, negative, widespread and false propaganda campaign. Opponents to public charter schools (led primarily by some in the status quo education establishment) seek to destroy and eliminate outright the public charter school movement in California and elsewhere. By destroying public charter schools, these charter school opponents ultimately seek to eliminate parent and student public school choice and force all students to revert back to attending district-operated public schools only. Not only does that represent a dramatic step backwards in driving public school quality and accountability, it is a looming threat to parent’s and student’s individual freedom and liberty to choose which public school provides the best opportunity to help guide each student to success. Ultimately, any attack against the public charter school choice is a direct attack against parent’s and student’s fundamental rights to public school choice.
Here are the primary reasons why public charter schools are under extreme attack:
Impressive Projected Growth of and Parent/Student Demand for Public Charter Schools
The California public charter school movement is celebrating its 25 year anniversary in the public school system in 2017 since first being enacted in 1992. Millions of children throughout our nation have succeeded and are succeeding through public charter schools, with more than 40 states now providing public charter school choices for students. In California, more than 600,000 students (equal to more than 10% of all California public school students) are enrolled in public charter schools with approximately 175,000 additional students on public charter school waiting lists. The California charter school movement envisions 1,000,000 enrolled students by the year 2022. Every year, charter school hater groups within the status quo establishment are engaged in pushing anti-charter school legislation, suppressing charter school growth, spewing negative and false propaganda, and doing whatever else they can to undermine public charter school success. These ongoing efforts to sabotage and destroy the public charter school movement have forced charter school to expend tremendous financial and human resources to defend their fundamental right to serve students. These resources should have gone to serving their students and expanding their programs. Remove these obstacles and mine fields, and the California Charter School movement would have likely already exceeded 1,000,000 students.
Positive Track Record of Choice for Public Charter Schools
Public charter schools are demonstrating a very positive and successful track record of serving millions of students successfully nationwide who, of their own free will, choose them, and for whom district-operated public schools are not a good match for their needs, challenges, and life goal aspirations. Public charter schools not only offer a different choice of public schools and programs for parents and students, but equally important is that they also frequently offer a different way of thinking about how to provide education for students. Public charter schools are public schools of choice. Unlike district-operated neighborhood schools that mandate that students who reside within their turf must attend their schools, parents and students choose public charter schools of their own free will!
The Critical Need to Think Differently About Education and Adapt
Public charter schools both have the flexibility to and oft times offer a different stream of thought about education delivery than district-operated public schools, the results being a much better match for millions of students and a higher quality public education system as a whole. Studies confirm that public charter schools as a whole are better serving the needs of chronically underserved student populations. However, this is NOT an argument for one public school choice OR the other. Both branches of the public school system, district-operated and charter-operated, are absolutely necessary to ensure that all students have access to a wide variety of choices that can be best matched to their needs and interests. Both district operated and charter school public school choices are critical to the overall societal goal of equal access and equal opportunities for all students to have the chance to succeed in spite of the community challenges in which they live. It is equal choice that drives the best opportunity for equal success.
The Status Quo Education Establishment Cannot Accept the Need to Change
Many district administrators, school board members, and other status quo education establishment representatives will claim profusely that they provide all of the schools and programs that every student possibly needs. Yet these programs and schools are all embedded with the same kind of old and obsolete thinking about education delivery, the same industrial age stream of consciousness. In other words, virtually every program is founded upon the very rigid and limited stream of thought that students must conform to the type of school or program being offered rather than the school and program being adaptable and flexible to the needs of each student. When asked why then are so many students in district-operated schools and programs either failing outright or are being seriously under-prepared for college or career pathways, many of these administrators and Board Members in turn fault the students, parents, state funding levels, and a host of other external reasons rather than consider that it is their schools or programs that need changing. In other words, even when faced with factual evidence that their schools and programs are not effectively serving the needs of all of their students, they remain beholden to their limited view of how education should be delivered and refuse to accept systemic responsibility for their students’ failures nor admit that changing and adapting to the needs of students is essential.
The Primary Self-Serving Motive of Anti-Charter School Groups is Absolute Power, Control, and Money not Students
Many in the status quo education establishment rarely, if ever, talk about let alone act, in the best interest of students. Their motives are all too often self-serving. They are motivated predominantly by POWER, CONTROL, and MONEY, and not by what is in the best interest of students. They do not view nor treat students as their valued customers, but rather as their exclusive entitlement property. The establishment instead attempts to persuade the public into believing that it is most important to keep the “status quo system” intact. If, in fact, the status quo education system was successfully serving the needs of all students and effectively preparing ALL students for the needs and demands of the 21st century, they may have a valid point. Yet, it is reported that up to 30-50% of all students are either dropping out, falling through the cracks, being failed outright, or are woefully under-prepared through district-operated public schools altogether in the very basic reading, writing, and math skills necessary to meet the needs of 21st century college and career pathways. Why? Because the status quo education system fails to change systemically and adapt its schools and programs to the ever-changing needs and demands of 21st century society and emerging global markets. It is the chronic rigidity and inflexibility of the system that is at the heart of these ongoing failures, and not the many excellent teachers that are trapped and handcuffed within the status quo public school system itself. Yet, instead of looking in the mirror and recognizing that long overdue fundamental change is essential for the sake of our children, those with a hardened position in keeping the system status quo instead seek to eliminate anything that threatens the status quo.