Final tally on key education bills in 2016
Updated, Oct. 4: With a crush of bills dispensed with last week, the year’s scorecard is complete. Here is the final update of a dozen bills that EdSource tracked in the final weeks of the legislative session. They include a challenge to the State Board of Education’s framework for a school accountability system (AB 2548), which Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed, and a bill to make it easier for districts to build teacher housing, which Brown signed.
Many of the major education bills that were introduced at the start of the year, such as teacher evaluation reforms, died or, like more money for college preparatory courses, were incorporated into this year’s state budget. Others survived the obstacle course that is the legislative process or quietly disappeared in the final week of the session.
Along with the bills on our list, we also wrote separately about the following bills:
- AB 709, requiring charter schools to comply with public records, open meetings and conflict-of-interest laws. Vetoed.
- AB 2009, requiring California State University campuses and community colleges to establish centers or liaison positions to help undocumented students. Vetoed.
- AB 2329, laying the groundwork to expand computer education in all grades. Signed.
BAN ON FOR-PROFIT VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOLS
AB 1084, by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, would ban for-profit companies from operating online charter schools. In an effort to also ban for-profit online companies from setting up nonprofit affiliates, the bill also would prevent a nonprofit online charter school from contracting with a for-profit entity that provides instructional services.
Why it’s important: There are only a half-dozen for-profit online charters in the state; the apparent target of the bill is K12, Inc., the largest operator of online schools in the state, serving 15,000 students through California Virtual Academies, a chain of nonprofit schools that K12 created and controlled as the sole-source provider of curriculum. The office of the California attorney general fined K12 $8.5 million after a lengthy investigation into its practices. Bonilla has said, “Taxpayer dollars should be spent on academic services and improving the educational experience of California students, not on enriching a company.”
Why it’s controversial: An organization of online school parents asserts that their kids thrive in online charters, but a 2015 study by the group CREDO of Stanford University found that overall performance of online charter students is poor. Gov. Jerry Brown, however, vetoed a similar bill last year, saying it could be interpreted to restrict the ability of nonprofit charter schools to continue using for-profit vendors.
Status: Died in the Senate. The California Charter Schools Association and charter opponents agreed that for-profit online charters should be banned. However, Bonilla was unable to negotiate a deal on the bigger stumbling block: how to prevent for-profit companies from managing nonprofit online Final tally on key education bills in 2016 | EdSource: