Charter Schools Break the Rules and Don’t Seem to Care
Charters schools, when first proposed in the late 1980s, were envisioned as a way for public school systems to experiment with educational options. Some still play this role. However over the last two decades charter schools have largely evolved into a way to make money from public dollars, either through for-profit charter school corporations or for well-paid CEOs of supposedly not-for profit charter school networks.
Thanks to big pushes by the Bill and Melinda Gates, Walton Family, and Broad foundations, California now has over 1,200 charters schools enrolling about seven percent of the state’s students. That includes about sixteen percent of the students in Los Angles and twenty-five percent in Oakland. The number keeps growing even though there is no proof that charters perform better than regular public schools. Three recent stories about Charter Schools and the school deform movement should make readers ask, “Is this what they mean by school reform?”
Alliance College-Ready Public Schools (Alliance), the largest charter school chain operating in Los Angles, California faces an investigation for using public funds to while trying to defeat a teacher-led union drive at its schools. A special committee of the California Legislature ordered the state auditor to investigate Alliance and the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA). The charter chain, which serves 11,000 students in 27 taxpayer-funded but privately operated schools, has received hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds. The committee wants to know how much public money was diverted into the fight against teachers who wanted to unionize and how CCSA acquired contact information for students and their families that they used in the anti-union campaign. The anti-union campaign reportedly included illegal surveillance of union activists, interference with meetings, phone calls to parents attacking teachers involved in the campaign, blocking teacher emails, and retaliation against organizers. State Senator Tony Mendoza (D), who initiated the move against Alliance charged, “The purpose of those funds is to educate children inside the classroom — not to intimidate teachers and parents.”
Teachers organizing the union drive at Alliance filed legal complaints with the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). Following a review of the charges, PERB attorneys filed four unfair labor practice complaints against Alliance and Los Angeles County Judge James Chalfont issued two restraining orders against the anti-union activities.
Groups associated with the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) are pouring money into legislative campaigns trying to elect a pro-charter majorityCharter Schools Break the Rules and Don't Seem to Care: