New Report by Public Interest
Charters Hurting School District
"Public school students in California’s West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) are paying dearly for privately managed charter schools they don’t attend. Unchecked charter school expansion in recent years has added to the cost of educating students who attend traditional public schools. This has increased pressure on the district to cut spending on academic tutoring, services for English learners, and more.
"Charter schools add $27.9 million a year to WCCUSD’s costs of running its own schools, this study finds. That’s a net loss, after accounting for all savings realized by no longer educating the charter school students. As a result, the district has $978 less in funding for each traditional public school student it serves. This previously unmeasured cost is a conservative estimate. The district faces additional fiscal pressures due to charter schools that are too difficult to measure, such as the inequitable proportion of state funding it receives for educating high-needs students.
"...this report’s aim is not to debate the value of charter schools as educational policy or review all fiscal pressures facing districts but to document a cost that has previously gone unmeasured and ignored in California educational planning."
The Charter schools have rich and powerful lobyists. We need to counter with popular support for the bills now in the state legislature. Our State Senatator is Nancy Skinner who is supporting this legislation. It is not clear where our Assembly Reprenentative, Buffy Wicks, stands. Email her.
(drafted by Educators for Democratic Schools and Wellstone Education Committee charterlawreform.com
Get Your Organization on Record
Ask your organization to adopt a resolution urging the legislature to pass these bills for a moratorium on charters, allowing local districts to decide how to run their schools, and stronger regulations on charters.
Following is a sample resolution being circulated in some organizaitons and has been adopted by the Alameda County Democratic Party Central Committee. Modify it to fit your situation..
Whereas the proliferation of charter schools in California has undermined our democratic public education system, draining resources from our most vulnerable communities and children already most impacted by racism and poverty and transferring those resources to privately-governed charter schools and
Whereas the California Charter School Act of 1992 has eroded local control of public school districts by not permitting local school boards to deny a new charter school based on the impact it would have on the district’s public schools and also, by allowing charter operators to appeal denials from the local school board to the county and state boards of education.
Whereas charter schools in California discriminate against high needs students by not offering programs for and not enrolling a proportionate number of Newcomers and students with disabilities, especially moderate and severe disabilities,
Therefore be it resolved that the California Charter School Act of 1992 be amended to restore local control to public school districts, including consideration, in determining whether to approve a new charter school petition, of the financial, academic, and facilities impacts the new charter school would have on neighborhood public schools and also, giving locally elected school boards the sole authority to approve and renew charter school petitions, and
Therefore be it further resolved that the California Charter School Act of 1992 be amended to require charter schools to offer programs for and enroll a proportionate number of Newcomers and students with special needs, including those with moderate and severe disabilities, as in the public school district in which they are located.
Video Game Programming Curriculum?
The WCCUSD Board is considering an expansion of the Richmond College Prep Charter (currently K-8) to add a high school which will be located in a church..
In addition to the negative financial impact of expanding Charters on our district and the issue of public money used to support a church,this particular application raises the issue of the type of education that Charter education. RCP plans to use the Summit Learning Program under attack around the country (New York Times). RCP proposes to build the school around two tracks: product design with computers, and video games programming.
In response to the Charter school presentation at the April 10 school board meeting, Pinole education activist Tammy Campbell gave this public comment:
Good evening Board and Superintendent,
I work at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab and as part of my job and my IT profession, I mentor and teach college computer science interns. My interns go on to be IT directors and successful employees in startups and in major IT companies in SF and Silicon Valley. I have served on several community college curriculum advisory boards across the Bay Area and provide advice as to what students need to learn to succeed. [My views on the proposed RCP curriculum design:] Product design good, video games not my favorite. Programming in python and understanding big data analysis can be done at the high school level, emphasize math. I know video games are sexy and capture students' attention, but the jobs in video gaming are considered the sweatshops of today. Just be aware. Ensure you are teaching psychology and user interface development as core and the capturing of data and statistics on the back-end of a website. That is where the jobs are. Don’t emphasize the video gaming. Emphasize functional design, math, art and programming.
The board's discussion regarding race and allowing neighborhood students to attend this school was very interesting. Curious have you looked at the enrollment percentages regarding race at all your charter schools? Are they diverse? Do we value diversity? I was thankful I went to John F Kennedy in this school district. Diversity then, taught me to think about the good of all the district students today. It reminds me to balance my decisions based on the good of the whole for all students. Are you willing to sacrifice the whole for a few in charter schools?
I do not know or cannot judge what goes on in these charter schools. I can only speak about the impact these schools have on the rest of the district, especially the financial impact. I have the right to ask where my taxpayer dollars go, where the money is spent and how their test scores are. Understand all the numbers. Major loss of ADA [average daily attendance state funding] for the rest of the district's students. What does that mean to you school board members? For me it means no support for this expansion.
"Co-location" Means Closing Neighborhood Public Schools
For three years, PublicCore has been warning that continued WCCUSD approval of charter schools will lead to the closure of neighborhood schools. Now that chicken is coming home to roost. Unless neighbors and concerned community members rise up and say "NO!” El Sobrante will lose its middle school.
Pinole Middle School has already been forced to share its site with Voices Charter School as part of a practice known as "co-location." Across the freeway in El Sobrante, Crespi Middle School has been forced to share its facility with Invictus Middle School. According to Prop 39 (aka “the charter school law”), each February, charter schools must make their anticipated facility needs request to the school district in which they are located. WCCUSD superintendent Matt Duffy has announced that both Voices and Invictus will be asking the district for more space in the 2019 – 2020 school year.
One of the options the district is considering is to close Crespi Middle School, move those students to Pinole Middle School, and allow Voices and Invictus to take over the Crespi site. Even though the district says it has no immediate plans to close Crespi, it has also stated that if enrollment falls that it will be closed.
PublicCore is vehemently opposed to this option, as it gives public school students and their families fewer choices and takes away El Sobrante's only middle school.
What you can do:
---Read the concerns of Joseph Glatzer, 7th grade history teacher at Pinole Middle School (see below)
---Contact the WCCUSD Board of Education [firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org]
Letter from Jospeph Glatzer:
I'm Joseph Glatzer, 7th grade history teacher at Pinole Middle School. I'm here to oppose Voices getting any more of our classrooms and deepening their occupation of our campus. My criticism is with the charter system, not individual families.
I noticed in reading Mr. Duffy's report that it says our enrollment at Pinole Middle is down. It had been down the past few years due to charter encroachment, but because of the amazing job our staff has done, our enrollment is up pretty significantly this year. Is the board aware of that? Parents are fed up with the lack of actual teaching at Summit, and we get kids coming back from them nearly every week.
Also, we know you're not trying to close Crespi until 2 years from now, but that doesn't make it any better.
How much smaller could our classrooms be if we weren't hemorrhaging money to charter schools for their own profit?
Hiding behind the law and saying you have no choice doesn't make any sense. Voices is not holding board meetings in Contra Costa County. They're in violation of their charter and it should be revoked. The dangerous driving, traffic and noise is out of control. Our students are being hurt by a de facto private elementary being artificially wedged into their school.
It's time for the school board to adopt the NAACP resolution for a moratorium on charter schools, which was just endorsed by UTR. Are you going to be on the side of the NAACP or on the side of a deeply segregated de facto private school which is taking our desperately needed public funds?
The argument has been that if you don't approve these collocations then we'll get sued and that'll cost the district a lot of money. But we're already losing tens of millions of dollars from approving all these charters and co-locations. We're going to have severe financial challenges, like we see in Oakland, if something doesn't change. So we might as well unite with other districts and fight for what's right.
Prop 39 can be challenged as unconstitutional under the California state constitution, because it guarantees children the right to an education, which charters are endangering.
This is a civil rights issue and a human rights issue. We learned from Gandhi and Martin Luther King that respecting unjust laws is an immoral act.
Don't take away any more of our classrooms at Pinole Middle. Thank you.
Push to Ban Teach for America Approach
Legislation that would force Teach for America to change its model is in the state legislature.
AB 221 would prohibit contracting with organizations for teachers who do not commit to at least five years of employment. Further school districts could not use these contracted teachers in schools where more than 40% are from low income families.
Typically Teach for America recruits young people with no teaching experience to teach for two years. Many just use the experience as a resume builder and leave teaching .
While there are TFA teachers who become good committed teachers the overall result of the program is a churning of inexperienced teachers in schools in low income areas contributing to the widening disparities in education. See this Politico article for more information.