Why California’s charter school sector is called ‘the Wild West’
This is the second of four posts on the state of the charter school sector in California.
The charter school sector has grown over the last few decades amid a debate about their virtues and drawbacks — and even whether the publicly funded schools are actually public. Some charters do a great job, but even some advocates (though not all) are finally admitting that too many states allowed charters to open and operate without sufficient oversight.
Ohio and Utah have vied for the distinction of having the most troubled charter sector though Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale recently issued a report this year and declared his state’s charter school law the “worst” in the nation. It’s a race to the bottom.
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California deserves special attention as, in many ways, the charter Wild West. It has more charter schools and charter school students than any other state in the nation. One billionaire even came up with a secret plan to “charterize” half of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Among the problems:
* A report released recently (by the ACLU SoCal and Public Advocates, a nonprofit law firm and advocacy group) found that more than 20 percent of all California charter schools have enrollment policies that violate state and federal law.
* In some places, charter schools open without mentioning their existence to the traditional school district in which they reside, prompting lawsuits by the districts. The Grossmont Union High School District, for example, sued to shut down two charters operating in Grossmont under agreements signed by another school district. The San Diego Union-Tribune quoted Scott Patterson, Grossman’s deputy superintendent of business services as saying, “It’s been described as the Wild West out there.”