Chartering an Alternate Path

Chartering an Alternate Path

Charter school leaders and supporters took aim at Assemblymember Kevin McCarty during a March 13 protest on the steps of the state capitol in Sacramento.

McCarty, a Sacramento Democrat, found himself under fire for sponsoring a bill to cap the number of public charter schools in California.

Public charter schools, which are privately operated public schools, have provided access to high quality education to many students, especially from minority communities. However, many unions have long opposed these schools because it threatens their education monopoly and forces them to compete for students.

“There is a package of bills that has been introduced by various Assemblymembers, including our own Kevin McCarty, also a member of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC), which taken together amount to a ban on charter schools,” said Margaret Fortune, president and CEO of the Fortune School in Sacramento. “We’re here to let the legislature know we’re going to hold them accountable for standing up for all of our kids.”

McCarty, who also serves as chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance, called charter schools “unregulated” and declared, “We should not have more charter schools than school districts in the state.”

McCarty did not explain how he believes public charter schools are unregulated. Public charter schools can open only after government education agencies (including local school districts) approve them. Unlike their traditional, union-run counterparts, public charters may also be closed for failure to meet education performance metrics.

The SacObserver, which first reported the rally, noted that McCarty “did not greet or speak with the protesting students on the day of the rally. He later praised the students for being engaged but said he had a prior commitment. Charter school advocates also point out that the McCarty never met with operators or supporters of charter schools to ask for their perspective before sponsoring the bills.”

The California Charter School Association (CCSA)  is opposing the California Teacher Association’s legislation with proposals of its own. Seeking to improve educational outcomes for black students in California, CCSA is co-sponsoring AB 575, authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), and SB 614, introduced by state Sen. Susan Rubio, (D-Baldwin Park). AB 575 seeks to increase funding and demand greater accountability for the education of African-American students. SB 614 would provide additional services to students with disabilities.

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Koppany Jordan serves as the Assistant to the President of California Policy Center.

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