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CA Teacher's Association Sees Charter School Reform Opportunity with Newsom

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Gavin Newsom’s approach to charter schools has signaled a policy shift from his predecessor. The state Teachers’ Association, which plans to demonstrate at the Capitol today [WEDNESDAY], wasted little time advancing an aggressive legislative agenda to increase regulation of charter schools. Capital Public Radio’s Scott Rodd reports.

On the campaign trail, Newsom rebuked characterizations that he’s a charter school adversary.

CHARTERNEWSOM-1-NEWSOM: “I told all the charter folks, if you want to paint me as an enemy, go ahead—I’m not. If you’re going to try to personally destroy me, I’m not going to reciprocate.”

But Newsom has taken action on charter schools where former Governor Jerry Brown declined. In March, he signed a fast-tracked bill requiring charters to follow the same open meeting and public records laws as local school districts. Brown vetoed similar legislation multiple times.

Within weeks of taking office, Newsom also created a task force to evaluate charters. More recently, he proposed tighter language for enrollment standards.

The California Teachers’ Association see this as an opportunity.

Here’s Eric Heins, president of the association.

CHARTERNEWSOM-1-HEINS1: “ The charter school industry has been like the wild west, with very little transparency or accountability in the system to how they were spending taxpayer money.”

One proposal backed by the association would place a cap on new charter schools in the state, something Brown opposed. Although he signed legislation to end for-profit charter schools.

Heins says he can’t predict how Newsom will act on charter school legislation…

CHARTERNEWSOM-1-HEINS2: “…But, I feel better about it than I have in a long time.”

Charters school advocates have mounted a campaign against the proposals. In April, they protested outside the district office of Democratic Assemblymember Kevin McCarty.

CHARTERNEWSOM-1-DEMONSTRATION: “Part of what the charter school law is intended to do is to give these kids another option, within the public school system, to have a high quality and rigorous education.”

Despite opposition, the legislation passed through committee and awaits a vote on the Assembly floor.

From Sacramento, I’m Scott Rodd.

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