Could fragile peace between political rivals ultimately lead to changes in California's charter school oversight?
The California Charter School Association and the state's teachers unions may deeply disagree on a lot of issues, but they at least agree on this: charter schools ought to be subject to the state's open records law, just like any other public school.
That agreement-in-principal forms the basic framework of two bills that have surfaced recently in Sacramento, raising the possibility that California lawmakers might enact changes to the state's structure for charter school governance and oversight this session.
Both bills formally apply a trio of open government laws — the California Public Records Act; the Political Reform Act, which deals with ethics and conflict-of-interest policies; and the state's open meetings laws — to the handful of charter schools that don't follow them already.
But from there, the proposals diverge, and so do the teachers unions and the charter association.
Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), who authored the bill the teachers union supports, AB 1478, said he's hoping to find common ground between his proposal and the Senate legislation the charter association supports.
But a spokeswoman for the California Teachers Association also made clear the state's largest teachers union had deep reservations with the charter association-backed bill, SB 806.
Similarly, while the California Charter Schools Association's Carlos Marquez said his side had made progress with Jones-Sawyer, he's cautious in assessing the chances that the two sides ultimately reach a compromise.
"We will take him at his word that he is open to amendments," said Marquez, the charter association's senior vice president of government affairs. "Ultimately, CTA will have to decide whether they are supportive of those amendments or if they want to walk away."
If the recent past is any indication, it's conceivable that there are still enough votes in the legislature to approve a charter oversight package of some kind. A bill nearly identical to Jones-Sawyer's AB 1478 passed both chambers last year, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the bill, citing many objections the charter association had raised.
"We do think if both [bills] go through, if both pass, we know which one is going to get signed," Marquez said. "They [teachers union leaders] know which one is going to get signed."
The major sticking point has been "Government Code 1090," the state law preventing public officials from "self-dealing" — that is, from having a financial stake in any contracts or deals involving the government entity for which they work.
California Teachers Association officials prefer AB 1478 because it clarifies these Could fragile peace between political rivals ultimately lead to changes in California's charter school oversight? | 89.3 KPCC: