Common Sense Charter School Legislation Killed by Corporate Special Interests

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, August 31, 2016

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SB322 would have prohibited charter schools from implementing policies intended to limit admission of students with disabilities, English learners and the economically disadvantaged

Sacramento – In a blow to fair public education policies, the California State Assembly failed to pass common sense legislation that would have, in part, prohibited charter schools from instituting policies intended to limit admission of students with disabilities, English learners and the economically disadvantaged.

“Charter schools shouldn’t be allowed to create their own selective admission policies designed to discriminate against our students, but when the Charter Schools Association spends millions of dollars on legislative races, unfortunately, this is the consequence,” said CFT President Joshua Pechthalt. “Charter schools are public schools funded with our tax dollars, and should be held to the same standards as other public schools.”

SB 322 (Leno), in its final version, would have ensured equal access to all charter school students and prohibited practices that discourage enrollment or disproportionately push out segments of students already enrolled. This included prohibiting charter schools from requiring parental volunteer hours and implementing other admission policies intended to limit access for students with disabilities, academically low-achieving students, English learners, neglected or delinquent students, homeless students or students who are economically disadvantaged. The legislation would also have required charter school suspension and expulsion procedures described in the charter petition meet certain minimum requirements, including constitutional due process rights for students.

“We expect all legislators to understand and demand equal access for all California students who receive public dollars for their education,” Pechthalt said. “The fact that our lawmakers couldn’t pass such basic legislation addressing equal access and due process rights designed to protect our most vulnerable students is an outrage. We are particularly dismayed that Democratic legislators either voted against this legislation or abstained from voting. We expect better than that.”

SB 322 received 31 YES votes, 34 NO votes and 15 abstentions.

Members who voted against the legislation include Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), Nora Campos (D-San Jose), Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) and Das Williams (D-Carpinteria).
Those who abstained were Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Susan Bonilla (D-Concord), Cheryl Brown (D-San Bernardino), Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood), Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), Matthew Dababneh (D-Encino), Tom Daly (D-Anaheim), Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles), Adam Gray (D-Merced), Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousan Oaks), Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks) and Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles).

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The CFT represents over 25,000 faculty in thirty community college districts, and 120,000 educational employees at every level of the education system, from Head Start to UC. AFT Local 2121 represents 1,500 faculty members at CCSF. The American Federation of Teachers has 1.6 million members. More info: www.cft.org.

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