Re: Amber Raskin commentary, June 15.
One might give Amber Raskin the benefit of the doubt. There are times when a column is submitted to The Signal and not immediately printed, but the delay is not usually too long. So either by design or delay, Raskin’s June 15 column entitled, “When Charter Schools Fill a Need,” didn’t include the current facts about proposed legislation, even though they were a reality well before the column ran. And she far overstated the aims of two remaining pieces of legislation moving forward that will reform the 29-year-old California Charter Schools Act (CSA).
There’s no question that charter schools and parent choice are part of the educational landscape in California. However, the dated CSA needs to be revised to reflect current conditions. Stating that the remaining legislation that has moved out of the Assembly and to the Senate is designed, “to dismantle charter schools as we know them,” was alarmist hyperbole.
Raskin stated, “A charter moratorium and doing away with the appeals process is not the answer.” The reality is that the moratorium bill failed to move out of the Senate and a bill to cap the number of charter schools died in the Assembly two weeks before the column ran. It’s also been widely reported that agreeing on an appeals process was a condition for Assembly Bill 1505 to move out of the Assembly before the legislative deadline at the end of May.
Raskin excuses the bad actors in the charter world by saying there are bad actors in all kinds of sectors. To dismiss abuses such as the many news reports of fraud, fiscal mismanagement and academic failure of charters, or the districts that approve charters to make money and then provide lax oversight, is to give the bad actors a green light rather than pass legislation to better control the abuse.
The two remaining charter reform bills, AB 1505 and AB 1507, revise the process for making decisions about charter school programs that are designed to fill what locally elected school boards view as needs for their students. We elect school boards to make these kinds of decisions. If you think they’ve made bad decisions, vote them out.
Existing charter schools are not threatened by either of the bills moving forward if the schools were legitimately approved by districts in which they are operating, are performing well academically for all students as measured by state testing, and are not mismanaging or misusing public funds.
And to those Signal commentators who are going to pounce with, “that Winger, he’s the former superintendent who hates charter schools and denied them all,” please…. Newhall School District received exactly one charter school petition in the 29-year history of the CSA. Yes, it was denied in a 5-0 board vote after an in-depth instructional and fiscal analysis that revealed many shortcomings and flaws in the proposal. That’s what good governance, in the interest of the state’s taxpayers, looks like.
Newhall School District