AB 1316 Aims to Destroy Charter Schools

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(CALIFORNIA GLOBE) – Back in 2019, facing a barrage of legislation that threatened to destroy their institutions, advocates for charter schools reached a “compromise” agreement with lawmakers. The results were sweeping changes, expressed in SB 126, AB 1505 and AB 1507, that mingled common sense reforms with measures that have made it harder than ever for charters to operate in California.

What happened in 2019 wasn’t really a compromise. It was a defeat, accepted in order to avoid an even bigger defeat. But that was then.

Today, in what officials at the California Charter School Association have characterized as “a blatant violation of the deal that we had from AB 1505 in 2019,” and “an existential threat to charter schools in California,” we now have AB 1316. Masquerading as a “transparency” reform, AB 1316 will decimate charter schools across the state.

Weighing in at over 31,000 words, the entirety of this expansive bill is designed to prevent any growth in charter school enrollment, attack home schools, defund online learning programs associated with charter schools, and force the closure of those charter schools that are unable to cope with the avalanche of new regulations.

Among the new rules will be a requirement for tutors to have teaching credentials. The thoughtless cruelty of this can only be explained in light of the underlying goal, which is to make it harder for charter schools to attract talent and effectively teach their students. There are retired and semi-retired professionals, often coming from STEM fields, that can walk into a classroom, pick up a syllabus, and deliver extraordinary, inspiring lessons to students. This sort of excellence is hard to find in a traditional public school where every instructor has to have a teaching credential.

Another worrisome feature of AB 1316, according to the California Charter Schools Association, will be to “prohibit multiple-track schools that offer additional instructional days than students would otherwise receive, and restrict instructional day flexibility for all charter schools that would negatively hurt at-risk students that require scheduling flexibility.” This amounts to putting a stop to the types of innovation and adaptability to student needs that are defining characteristics of charter schools.

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