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Proposed Legislation to Limit Number of California Charter Schools Sparks Heated Debate Among Parents, Educators

By Scott Rodd, Capital Public Radio News - April 19, 2019

Parents and educators converged on California’s Capitol on April 17 to debate a legislative package that would impose a statewide cap on the number of charter schools, and new oversight rules.

Supporters say charter-school laws have not been revised since they were first introduced more than 25 years ago. The legislation would establish a limit on charter schools in California, based on how many the state has by 2020. It would also grant local school districts sole authority to approve new charter schools and block them from operating outside of said district. The proposed legislative package limiting charter schools is being supported by the California Teachers Union, among other groups, calling for more accountability and oversight of charter schools.

Opponents argue the legislation would limit school choice, especially for parents of minority students in struggling school districts. California has roughly 1,300 charter schools, and more than half of the students enrolled are black and Latino.

The legislative package includes Assembly Bill 1505, which would remove the ability of the State Board of Education to approve a charter application after it had been denied by a local school district or a county office of education; AB 1505, which would also allow districts to consider the possible negative financial impact of a charter school on a district when deciding whether to grant a charter; Assembly Bill 1506 would place a cap on charter schools in the state at the number in operation on Jan. 1, 2020; and Assembly Bill 1507, which would prohibit charter schools from opening additional schools outside the district where they received their original charter.

The Assembly Education Committee approved the bill package on April 17.

Long Beach Democratic Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, who authored one of the bills and chairs the committee, argued oversight of charter schools has been too lax in recent years.

“Some charter schools have exploited every loophole in the law,” O’Donnell said. The proposed legislation “begins to close those loopholes.”

Source: Capital Public Radio

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