Brown vetoes charter accountability bill

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Despite years of evidence, hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars spent with little or no accountability for them and an ACLU report “Unequal Access” found that over 20 percent of California’s charter schools deny access to students with disabilities, Governor Brown spared for-profit charters from accountability by vetoing AB 709.

The veto survived despite substantial evidence of longstanding abuses such as English learners, or students with lower grades and test scores dissuaded from enrolling in charters. The NAACP recently called for a ban on privately managed charters. State regulators have found more than $81 million in fraudulent and wasteful spending at charter schools in California, while another report shows that an expansion of privately-run charter schools would cost the Los Angeles Unified School District more than $500 million this year alone.

California Teachers Association President Eric Heins was disappointed in Brown’s decision;

“It is unfortunate that given all the reports showing fraud, waste, mismanagement and unequal access to students, Governor Brown would veto such important legislation that simply required the same standards of accountability and transparency that apply to all neighborhood public schools. With so much evidence documenting the waste, fraud and abuse by privately-managed charter schools, which have cost taxpayers millions at the expense of our students, we hoped the Governor would have signed such an important bill. The impact is far too widespread. Educators, parents and civil rights groups will continue to support and push legislation to ensure accountability of all charter schools, transparency of taxpayer dollars and equal access for all students.”

The simple issues of transparency and accountability in AB 709 are below:

This bill would require charter schools to comply with the open

meeting and public disclosure requirements under the Ralph M.

Brown Act (Brown Act), Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act

(Bagley-Keene Act), the California Public Records Act (CPRA),

and the conflict of interest disclosure requirements under the

Political Reform Act (PRA).

 

Prop 30’s amazing success story

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Four years ago California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 30, the emergency ballot measure that Governor Jerry Brown and state education leaders had argued was needed to rescue public schools and community colleges from the fiscal free-fall of the 2008 Great Recession.

The good news, according to the California school teachers and officials, parents, college professors, health-care advocates and economic researchers interviewed by Capital & Main for this series, is that the initiative not only performed as advertised, but it may be the most spectacularly successful ballot initiative in the state’s notoriously uneven history of direct democracy.

It also provides strong justification for a “Yes” vote on Prop. 55 that would maintain the initiative’s provisions. Read Part I of the Capital and Main series here.

San Bernardino Supports “Yes on 55”

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Educators and coalition leaders gathered with San Bernardino Teachers Association (SBTA) on Saturday to support Proposition 55 and prevent harmful cuts to local education and statewide government services. Leaders reminded San Bernardino voters that passing Prop 55 will ensure funding for all students, no matter their zip code.

The tax extension is not an increase- it merely maintains the current tax structure on California’s top wage earners. The legislation will allow revenue generated by individuals making $25o,000 per year or couples making $500,000 per year to be maintained at current levels instead of ending in 2017.

Speakers included CTA Board member Robert Rodriguez, SBTA President Ashley Alcalá, SBTA educator Christine Marquez, SBTA School Board Member Abigail Medina, and San Bernardino City Unified School District Superintendent Dale Marsden who represent a broad coalition supporting “Yes on 55”.

Leaders spoke of the devastating cuts that took place during the Great Recession when tens of thousands of educators and education support personnel were pink-slipped. President Alcalá stated emphatically, “We cannot go back to the days of larger class sizes and teacher lay-offs. Support Prop. 55 and help our children thrive.”

 

 

Charter shutdown abandons 116 students

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LA’s charter school woes continue as City High Charter School in Los Angeles will close in its second year, leaving 116 students in a scramble for new programs in the wake of the school’s sudden shutdown .

Outside a synagogue on Pico Boulevard, home to the independent charter City High School, signs beckoned families to join: “Now Enrolling! 9th and 10th grade.”   But on Friday morning, the classrooms were mostly empty. Instead, the blue chairs on which students sat for the last month were arranged in a circle outside on the courtyard’s cracked asphalt.

Parents, students and teachers passed around a palm-sized stuffed lion and mourned the loss of their school, just a month into its second year.   “It’s like a funeral,” said Tiffany Bowen, whose son Sudan was in 10th grade. “You know how I feel? You know on the iPhone, there’s an emoji with a bandage on its head? That’s me.”   The charter school’s board of directors voted Monday evening to close the high school, citing financial and facilities problems.

L.A. School Report first reported the news Thursday.   The shutdown left City High’s 116 students scrambling to make other arrangements. As of Friday morning, all but five to 10 students had other options, including other independent charters and campuses run by the Los Angeles Unified School District, Principal Sheri Werner said.   The school’s closing is the latest high-drama episode for an organization that has won praise for its academic strength but generated controversy within the local community.

Original story from LATIMES.COM can be accessed here. Authors- joy.resmovits@latimes.com   sonali.kohli@latimes.com   howard.blume@latimes.com

Menifee teachers pack local board meeting

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MENIFEE- After the union requested a larger venue to accommodate the overflowing crowds at the board meeting, the Menifee School District moved the meeting to the most remote location in the District in hopes of discouraging teacher attendance.  In spite of the District’s efforts, Menifee teachers came out in great numbers to show support for their bargaining team.

In a show of strength, more than 150 Menifee members (MTA) joined dozens of parents and students to pack the board meeting last night to address the Menifee Union School District (MUSD).  During public comments, fifteen different speakers expressed their support of MTA’s positions and implored the District to negotiate a fair settlement.

Competitive salary and benefits are essential to attract and retain the great teachers of Menifee’s schools. With compensation among the lowest in the surrounding area, Menifee is not positioned to retain its current teaching staff, much less attract new teachers in the future.

Salary remains unresolved.  The district has offered less than half of what MTA believes would be a fair settlement to make progress toward equitable salaries and to keep their teachers in Menifee’s schools.

Corona Norco teachers support Prop. 55

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NORCO- Special education teacher Angela Thomas joined the ranks of committed volunteers of Corona Norco Teachers Association (CNTA) Monday evening for their first round of “Yes on 55” phone banking. For Thomas, the fight to extend support for public schools is personal. In 2009, teachers in the Corona Norco Unified School District received hundreds of pink slips as young educators worried about their future.  

“Many of these teachers were newly-married, with first homes and children on the way as they faced an uncertain future. The passage of Prop 30 was a relief for all of us- we could focus on the job we love instead of pursuing a new career. That’s why Prop. 55 is so important.”    

Political Action Chair Loretta Arenas helped organize the 12 evenings of phone banking that will focus on statewide member outreach. Members will participate geographically as teams and work with other educators from their sites to make calls and participate in site visits to circulate commitment cards.                                             

Arenas explained, “Proposition 55 will help our children thrive. We can’t go back to the days of pink slips and billion dollar cuts to education. We will get this job done.”

Menifee teachers phone bank for “Yes on 55”

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Menifee Teachers Association (MTA) members gathered Wednesday night for their first “Yes on 55” phone-banking session and made over 1200 calls in just three hours. President Brenda Myers explained they coordinated the event because MTA had benefitted from the Passage of Proposition 30 in November 2012 and they want to ensure the passage of Proposition 55.

“Prop 30 allowed us to offer more educational opportunities to our community, more collaboration and cooperation, more pay for our professional’s time, restored programs, and allows our staff to have more chances to earn income and pursue their passions than we have had in decades.”

Restoration of local funds through Proposition 55’s predecessor allowed for five teaching days to be restored, an 8% salary increase, lower class size from transitional Kindergarten through grade 3, started an AVID Program and added after school intervention and enrichment at elementary sites. Menifee also added assistant principals, counselors, music teachers and coaches since the its passage. The “Yes on 55” coalition will continue phone banking and other statewide election outreach through the 2016 campaign season

 

 

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Yuba City teachers “Forced to strike”

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Frustrated over months of mistreatment and bad faith bargaining, Yuba City teachers launched a strike today against the Yuba City Unified School District (YCUSD).

What has been undisputed is educators in Yuba City earn about 13 percent less than the state average. The tragic thing is that the district can afford every proposal the teachers have offered.  They choose not to. This is both an economic and Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike; a result of the district’s intimidation tactics.

Music teacher John Paris explained that YCUSD forced a strike because it offered a settlement they knew did not address concerns raised over low pay that prevents Yuba City from attracting and keeping the best teachers for the community.

Parents and students have responded to the strike by standing with Yuba City teachers. Some have joined the picket line in support YCTA’s efforts as the strike moves through the first day.

Independent research proves Prop 30’s benefit to schools

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According to independent research conducted by California Budget and Policy Center, schools have shown significant benefits because of the passage of Proposition 30 in 2012. According to the study, revenues increased school funding and allowed for reinvestment in other public services after years of cuts. Prop. 30’s tax rate increases are scheduled to expire over the next several years.

Although California is in a much stronger fiscal situation now than it was in 2012, the phasing out of Prop. 30’s revenue boost would mean fewer resources available in the coming years to fund California’s various priorities.

Prop. 30 successfully raised the state sales tax rate by one-quarter cent through 2016 and added three new personal income tax (PIT) rates for very-high-income Californians through 2018:

  • A 10.3 percent tax bracket for single filers’ taxable income between $250,001 and $300,000 and joint filers’ taxable income between $500,001 and $600,000;
  • An 11.3 percent tax bracket for single filers’ taxable income between $300,001 and $500,000 and joint filers’ taxable income between $600,001 and $1 million; and
  • A 12.3 percent tax bracket for single filers’ taxable income above $500,000 and joint filers’ taxable income above $1 million.

Proposition 30 helped the state to reinvest in preschool, K-12 schools, and community colleges in the aftermath of the Great Recession. A growing economy and Prop. 30 worked together to boost Prop. 98 K-14 spending from $47.2 billion in 2011-12 to $71.9 billion in 2016-17. Since voters passed Prop. 30, Prop. 98 K-12 spending per student has increased by more than 14 percent — from $9,168 per student in 2012-13 to $10,493 in 2016-17, after adjusting for inflation (Figure 5). This increased support for California’s students followed a significant reduction in funding during and after the economic decline. Furthermore, the average number of annual instructional days in California schools has increased and the number of K-12 students per teacher in California has decreased since voters approved Prop. 30.

Read the California Budget and Policy Center study here.