Chartering a new course in education: Part I

This two-part package of stories is intended to break down and explain the bills and their potential impacts, taking into account the local context and history of charter schools in our community, as well as the views of those in favor, and those opposed.

In what many consider a landmark move in the history of California charter schools, a group of bills looking to increase oversight and local control over charter schools is working its way through the Legislature.

The legislative package is being called “Series 1500,” and comprised of Assembly bills 1505, 1506 and 1507. Together, the bills seek to collectively redistribute the power of approving and re-instituting a school’s charter into the hands of local elected bodies — namely the publicly controlled school board in any particular area.

If signed into law, the bills would also prohibit school districts from approving charter schools outside of their own boundaries, cap the number of charter schools in a district and the state and also establish more ways for school districts to deny a charter school petition.

Two of the bills were authored by Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, and former Newhall School District Superintendent Marc Winger testified in Sacramento to support the bills, in addition to representatives of local school districts.

Proponents of the package have said Series 1500 is a recognition of local school board sovereignty, which shows respect to local school boards’ knowledge of their constituencies. Critics contend the bills effectively unravel much of the 1992 Charter School Act, putting local charter schools in jeopardy.

Read Part II of the series here

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