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NPE Tracks 2020 Candidates on Education
Want to know which candidates take money from large donors, PACs, or which ones support testing in schools, vouchers, or charters?

The Network for Public Education has a great page tracking the candidates, donors and stances on education specific topics available at the link above.

‘Separate Programs for Separate Communities’: California School District Agrees to Desegregate (August 9, 2019)
”A California school district outside of San Francisco agreed to desegregate its schools on Friday, after a two-year state investigation found that the district had “knowingly and intentionally maintained and exacerbated” racial segregation and even established an intentionally segregated school.

Students in the district, Sausalito Marin City, are divided into two starkly different schools, according to the state Justice Department, which conducted the investigation: a thriving, racially and economically integrated charter school in the heavily white enclave of Sausalito, near the Golden Gate Bridge, and an overwhelmingly black, Hispanic and poor traditional public school about a mile away, in the more diverse community of Marin City.

The arrangement was no accident, Xavier Becerra, the California attorney general, said on Friday, but a deliberate scheme by school district officials to set up a separate and unequal system that would keep low-income children of color out of a white enclave.”

Inside The NAACP’s Civil War Over Charter Schools (August 6, 2019)
”Leaders of the nation's oldest civil rights group say that members are being paid by right-wing groups to infiltrate the organization and sow chaos.”

“When three local NAACP branches in California passed April resolutions opposing the national group’s call for a charter school moratorium, school choice advocates greeted the news with glee. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos voiced her support in an interview. The Wall Street Journal published a flattering editorial about the move, describing it as a welcome “revolt.”

But leaders at the California state NAACP say this so-called “revolt” is fake news. They say the main member who pushed these actions ― a woman named Christina Laster ― is being paid by a right-wing group connected to the Koch brothers to infiltrate the organization and sow chaos. They also note that, despite the media attention, these resolutions were dead on arrival at the national organization for failure to follow proper submission protocol or rejection by higher committees.”

Charter School Advocates Fume Over Final Reform Report (August 4, 2019)
"California’s charter lobby remains fiercely opposed to far-reaching reforms found in a state Assembly bill.”

“If some public schools advocates have been less than enthusiastic about Governor Gavin Newsom’s attempts to dilute charter school reform legislation, the governor shouldn’t expect any gratitude from California’s charter lobby. Despite receiving major concessions on Assembly Bill 1505, which had been written to restore robust local control to school boards over new charter school creation, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) remains fiercely opposed to the bill. And on the pages of EdSource last week, CCSA members were still spitting mad at the man they hold ultimately responsible — state schools supe Tony Thurmond. That’s because as chair of the governor’s California Charter School Policy Task Force, Thurmond included in its final report far-reaching reforms that CCSA opposed and that found their way into AB 1505.”

The Charter School Industry’s Dishonest Attack on Bernie Sanders (June 19, 2019)
”Arguing that charter schools offer unique opportunities for poor African American children isn’t borne out by the facts…”

“Only a few months before the Washington Post editorial attacking Senator Sanders’s support for the NAACP’s call for a moratorium on charters, the newspaper published an investigative article exploring the nightmarish uncertainty that sudden closure of fly-by-night charter schools can inflict upon students and their parents.”

“The charter industry is about profiting off education. In addition to the officially for-profit companies involved, even many charter nonprofits are structured in ways that enable people and businesses to make money off them. Charter operators and affiliated entities have used public funds to obtain and privately own valuable urban real estate.”

Eleven people connected to online charter schools are indicted (May 31, 2019)
Eleven people, including two with Marin ties, have been indicted on criminal charges of conspiracy, personal use of public money without legal authority, grand theft and financial conflict of interest in connection with a network of California charter schools.

Steven Van Zant, a former superintendent at Sausalito Marin City School District, and Sean McManus, whose charter management corporation included a subsidiary that operated in the North Bay — Cal Steam Sonoma — were named in the indictment filed earlier this month in Southern California.”

Charter school curbs pass Assembly, but drama foretells compromise (May 22, 2019)
”Legislation that would give local school districts more control over charter-school authorizations narrowly passed the California State Assembly Wednesday in a dramatic vote that served as an initial litmus test for a package of consequential, union-backed charter regulation bills.

Moderate Democrats in particular were reluctant to support the measure. When the bill finally passed 42-19, it was with an assurance from  Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, the bill’s author, that the bill would be amended to include a “fair” appeal process.

“We knew this was going to be a fight because this is a heavily political matter,” O’Donnell said following the floor vote. “Charter schools have a lot of resources that public schools don’t on the political front, and they employ them in the state Capitol, and we saw that today.”

California lawmakers consider sweeping charter-school changes (May 22, 2019)
”The bills aim to slow the growth of charters, whose enrollment totals have increased as those of traditional public schools in some districts have declined. They would give school districts more leverage to deny applications to open new charter schools and cap the number of such schools statewide.

Charter opponents say the schools’ growth has created numerous unintended consequences: draining funding from public school districts, promoting racial resegregation with admissions criteria, and creating millionaire charter operators.”

‘Starvation Diet’ for Schools Protested by California Teachers, Officials, Students At Capitol (May 22, 2019)
”More than 1,000 California teachers, students and school district administrators marched in downtown Sacramento and rallied at the state Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, adding their voices to a statewide advocacy day for school funding.

The event, part of the national “Red for Ed” movement, brought together union members and school administrators who have sometimes been at odds, with teacher strikes unfolding this year in Sacramento, Los Angeles and Oakland. The groups put aside their differences Wednesday to push for legislation directing more money to public education”

Charter School Moratorium Bill (April 26, 2019)
”In this California legislative update, learn what’s happening with SB 756 and other assembly bills which would severely impact charter schools in the state.”

“Together with ABs 1505, 1506 and 1507—which are going through the Assembly—this bill would mean a severe crackdown on charter schools in California.”

Divisions form on California charter school policy bills (April 24, 2019)
“School choice is important but it’s got to make sense for the school districts and all students in the districts,” [according to legislative advocate Carlos Machado].

“It’s very complicated. On one hand, it’s created a huge financial problem for our district. But on the other, parents in Redwood City that send their kids to charters really like them. Just like there are parents who send their kids to our schools and love them,” [Dennis McBride, president of the Redwood City Elementary School District Board of Trustee] said.

“When deciding to shutter schools, charters drawing students away from the district was frequently cited by Redwood City officials as a key financial hurdle which ultimately proved too difficult to overcome.”

California opinions on charter schools are divided—and more complex than portrayed (April 24, 2019)
”In a survey on education issues released late Wednesday, the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found that public opinion on charter schools was about evenly split in the state, with 49% of respondents favoring and about 46% opposing the publicly funded schools that mostly operate separately from school districts and with non-union teachers.”

“For example, while 75% of respondents who took the poll said they felt California’s publicly-funded charters provide an important alternative for low-income families, 64% of them also said they were concerned that charter schools take away funding from traditional public schools. And a majority seemed to favor a recent law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom that calls for more transparency among the state’s 1,300 charters.”

New Oversight Law Won’t Prevent Charter School Financial Difficulties (April 3, 2019)
Gavin Newsom hailed a new charter school transparency law he signed. Why won’t the law prevent charters from failing?

"Bagley, in an email, said that RVCS, “when it presented its petition to the state, claimed they were ready to fly on their own.

“[RVCS] built their budget on the assumption they’d not be participating in local parcel taxes and in fact they even went so far as to tell the state they were looking to rent space outside of the district’s property. The reality is, their program has been chronically undersubscribed and they’ve had to admit out-of-district students to fill seats.”

Charter Moratorium on Tap: Update on Legislative Effort in California (April 1, 2019)
”This bill would express the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation containing specified policies relating to charter schools on or before January 1, 2020, and would prohibit, notwithstanding any other law, the approval of a petition for the establishment of a new charter school until June 30, 2024, unless those specified policies are enacted.” 

Department Of Education Wasted $1 Billion On Failed Charter Schools (April 1, 2019)
”A new report issued by the Network for Public Education provides a detailed accounting of how charter schools have scammed the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) for up to $1 billion in wasted grant money that went to charters that never opened or opened for only brief periods of time before being shut down for mismanagement, poor performance, lack of enrollment, or fraud. The report also found many of the charters receiving grant awards that managed to stay open fall far short of the grant program’s avowed mission to create “high-quality” schools for disadvantaged students.”

County denies charter renewal petition for Foothill Leadership Academy (March 31, 2019)
“The denial recommendation said FLA’s violations were extensive and ranged from multiple violations of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the county and the charter, it’s inability to meet academic benchmarks, and financial mismanagement. In a 30-minute statement, Scott Holbrook, a lawyer hired by the county to review the charter petition identified many of the points individually.

The denial recommendation said at least seven times FLA violated the terms of the MOU during its nearly five-years of operation. The MOU governs FLA’s relationship with the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office and the Tuolumne County Board of Education and outlines its academic, financial and operational obligations. Any single violation can result in a revocation of the school’s charter by the county board of education.

The county recorded two new MOU violations in March related to special education services and the discovery that 11 charter school employees were paid as independent contractors.”

Gov. Newsom signs legislation requiring charter school transparency in California (March 5, 2019)
Underscoring the high priority he has placed on the issue, Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law a bill approved by lawmakers at lightning speed that will require more transparency in charter school operations…The new law requires California’s 1,300-plus charter schools to follow the same laws governing open meetings, public records and conflicts of interest that apply to school districts. They include ensuring board meetings are open to the public, providing records to the public upon request and, to prevent personal gain, banning board members from voting on contracts in which they have a financial interest.

Keys teachers protest over public school funds diverted to charter and private schools (March 4, 2019)
“We need the public to understand that funding is being taken away from our schools to fund private and charter schools. As a public school teacher, you should be upset about this,” Wendi Sullivan, who teaches fourth grade at Key Largo School, wrote in a “call to action” email to teachers late last month.

Charter schools are taxpayer-funded but run by private companies. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposed budget is full of incentives aimed at the expansion of charter schools in the state.

With a promise of more money and smaller classes, striking Oakland teachers return to school (March 4, 2019)
Celebrating what they call a victory for educators and students, Oakland, California teachers will be back in class Monday after approving a contract to end a seven-day strike.

Yet their fight isn't over, they said. They will continue to call for more classroom money, an end to school closures in black and Latino communities, and a ban on charter schools, which the teachers union says divert millions from the school district.

No end in sight for nationwide wave of teacher strikes (March 1, 2019)
The state of play: The string of walkouts, introduced by West Virginia educators who led a 9-day strike in February of last year, shows no signs of slowing or stopping. Already this year, there have been strikes in Los Angeles, Denver, and Oakland that have resulted in school district concessions.

The big picture: This movement is evolving into something deeper than mere calls for school funding, teacher wages, and benefits. Demands for smaller class sizes, fewer annual standardized tests, and opposition to the expansion of private-school voucher programs and charter schools have become a rallying cry.

CHARTER bill heads to Newsom (March 1, 2019)
As teachers continued to strike in Oakland yesterday, lawmakers in Sacramento sent Newsom a bill that would subject charters to the same open meeting requirements and conflict-of-interest prohibitions that apply to traditional public schools. SB 126 flew through the Legislature after Newsom repeatedly said he wanted a charter transparency bill on his desk; he’ll get his wish while most 2019 bills are still awaiting a first hearing. Politico PRO’s MacKenzie Mays has the breakdown here.

Oakland school district boosts wage offer as teachers shut down board meeting (February 28, 2019)
Talks have gotten a boost from elected officials stepping in to mediate, including Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, and Tony Thurmond, the state superintendent of public instruction.

Also Wednesday, the school board postponed a decision on whether to make nearly $22 million in cuts to the 2019-20 budget, including eliminating central office staff, foster youth case managers, restorative-justice program coordinators and school site security officers.

Oakland Teachers Strike for Better Lives (February 25, 2019)
Meager pay. Crowded classrooms. A ratio of one counselor for every 600 students. The Oakland Education Association says these are just a few of the reasons that its 3,000 members, who have worked without a contract since 2017, are on strike for a third day…The union, meanwhile, blames charter schools for siphoning needed funds away from traditional public schools. According to the OUSD, 13,219 of the district’s 50,119 students attended charter schools during the 2017 to 2018 school year.

SB 756 - The Charter Moratorium Bill (February 22, 2019)
It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this measure to establish a moratorium on new charter schools, to evaluate the effects of the moratorium, and to lift the charter school moratorium upon completion of the evaluation.

It is further the intent of the Legislature in enacting this measure to promote the value that the primary function of charter schools is to establish locally driven pedagogical innovation that supports California’s system of public education and does not replace or undermine it. Establishment of a charter school moratorium provides time to reconsider whether the current regulatory framework for charter schools is promoting this value.

Charter Schools Are Pushing Public Education to the Brink (February 7, 2019)
”The costs imposed by charter schools are not only financially burdensome to local public schools; they’re also potentially calamitous to schoolchildren and families.

When charters are closed by the state, as often happens, or when charter operators decide to close on their own, which they have the flexibility to do, the students and their families at least have a public system they can fall back on. This is not something to take for granted.”

Charter Schools Are Not Public Schools (February 2, 2019)
”Why do charter schools and their boosters insist on using the term "public"? Here's what Todd Ziebarth, senior vice president at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, told Emma Brown of the Washington Post as he argued that charters are public schools.

And it’s a term that matters, he said: Americans have high regard for the importance of public education, and private schools carry connotations of exclusivity that don’t apply to charters.”


Success of Los Angeles Teachers Strike Rocks Charter Schools, and a Rich Supporter (January 28, 2019)
“Carrying protest signs, thousands of teachers and their allies converged last month on the shimmering contemporary art museum in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Clad in red, they denounced “billionaire privatizers” and the museum’s patron, Eli Broad. The march was a preview of the attacks the union would unleash during the teachers’ strike …”

Los Angeles Teachers’ Strike to End as Deal Is Reached (January 22, 2019)
“…[T]he strike had provided an alternate narrative to the school choice movement that grew up around the idea that traditional public schools were factories of failure that needed to be broken up and rethought.

The deal includes caps on class sizes, and hiring full-time nurses for every school, as well as a librarian for every middle and high school in the district by the fall of 2020.”

Hear Us Roar: #RedForEd!
”California educators have a long history of standing up for their students, profession, communities and one another. Our movement has drawn tremendous strength from colleagues’ recent actions in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina and Washington…But what made (and is still making) #RedForEd in California so potent is a winning strategy based on bargaining for the common good: Giving students the public education they deserve, and educators the tools they need, benefit the entire community, not just our members.”