An ominous aspect of the recent Los Angeles teachers strike settlement is the provision pushing for a halt on the number of charter schools.
Although the 2017 L.A. school board elections resulted in a board majority favoring charter schools, in the strike settlement agreement The New York Times noted, “it was immediately clear that the fate of charter schools was part of the bargain: The union extracted a promise that the pro-charter school Board of Education would vote on a call for the state to cap the number of charters.”
Dutifully, the L.A. board subsequently voted for a resolution calling on the state to place a moratorium on the establishment of new charter schools.
Such a call for a charter moratorium will likely get a sympathetic hearing from Governor Gavin Newsom. During the gubernatorial campaign, he answered a California Teachers Association questionnaire saying he did not believe that there needed to be more charter schools in the state.
The CTA subsequently endorsed Newsom and, in its talking points for him, said that Newsom “opposes the proliferation of charters.”
During the campaign, a Newsom spokesperson told The Hill that Newsom “has reasonably suggested that new charter approvals be temporarily paused” pending agreement on “minimal transparency measures.”
It is therefore telling that in the middle of the Los Angeles strike that Newsom suddenly interjected that there was a need for transparency regulations on charter schools.
If the CTA and its allies, like Governor Newsom, get their way and place a cap or a moratorium on the establishment of new charter schools in California, the ones who will suffer will be the children.
Look at the charters in California that are expanding, and it is obvious that parents want more, not less, ability to choose the school that is right for their children.
Grimmway Academy charter school in rural Kern County established its first campus in the small town of Arvin.
The charter school offered students an innovative learning model that includes online learning in a computer lab, rotating elementary students to subject-matter teachers throughout the day, and an innovative garden program that teaches students about healthy eating and food preparation.
Students at Grimmway’s Arvin campus excelled, outperforming students at local district schools.
To build on the success of its Arvin campus, Grimmway Academy recently opened a new campus in the tiny Kern County community of Shafter.
Grimmway Academy surveys show that nine out of 10 parents are satisfied with the schools.
Grimmway hopes to continue to expand to provide a great education for disadvantaged students in underserved rural areas of California.
John Adams Academy charter school was established in Roseville, outside Sacramento.
Although the school is located in an area that supposedly has good local district schools, interested parents flocked to John Adams because it offers a classical education model, which features the great works of Western civilization, the Socratic method of teaching, and an emphasis on America’s national heritage based on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
“We’re not trying to do conveyer-belt education,” says Norman Gonzales, John Adams’ head of outreach, but rather, “We’re really looking to give [students] the tools and skills necessary to be successful in whatever endeavor they choose.”
Like at Grimmway, more than nine out of 10 John Adams parents are satisfied with the education their children are receiving.
And like at Grimmway, John Adams is responding to parent demand and expanding. The school has just opened up two more campuses in suburbs outside Sacramento.
These charter-school expansions are occurring because parents and their children are not finding what they want in the regular public schools.
A charter-school moratorium or cap would be disastrous for children who need safer environments, better curricula, and more individualized learning methods that charters offer.
Speaking to The New York Times, major California charter-school donor Bill Bloomfield said: “For people to reach the most ridiculous conclusion that this is about profits is absurd. This is about giving every kid a chance for a world-class education.” He is right, and hopefully Governor Newsom and Sacramento lawmakers will get that message.
–Lance Izumi is senior director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute and the author of the new book “Choosing Diversity: How Charter Schools Promote Diverse Learning Models and Meet the Needs of Parents and Children.”