Reject Charter School Bill: Black Parents, Civil Rights Groups Ask Gov. Newsom

Christina Laster made a special trip from Southern California up to the State Capitol Wednesday.

The grandmother of a seven-year-old charter school student said she came to Sacramento to make sure Gov. Gavin Newsom knows she – and tens of thousands of Black parents and guardians like her across the state – are opposed AB 1505, a controversial charter school bill the Senate Education Committee is expected to debate July 10.

In May, the state Assembly voted 44-19 in favor of the legislation.

If passed and signed into law, AB 1505 would strip away the existing right charter schools have to an appeal process if a local school board denies its petition for authorization or renewal.

Laster joined leaders of the California chapters of two prominent civil rights organizations, the National Action Network (NAN) and the National Urban League (NUL), for the meeting held at the Governor’s office at the Capitol. Both groups have been outspoken opponents of the legislation.

“I let them know that our hope as Black parents is in charter schools, which are free public schools,” said Laster. She told California Black Media that her protest of the bill speaks not only for her grandson – but for all African-American children and their parents.

“Generationally, we haven’t had things like that to hope for,” she continued.  “If you take away charter schools, you take away the choice that is helping our children thrive and perform. You are taking away our hope.”

Laster met with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s staff for nearly an hour June 19, along with NAN-Sacramento President, the Rev. Tecoy Porter; NAN-Los Angeles President, the Rev. Jonathan Moseley; and Cassandra Jennings, President and CEO of NUL-Greater Sacramento.

“I was encouraged by the meeting,” said Porter. “We received clarity about the process and we understand that there will be some deep thinking in regards to what happens to our charter schools.”

Ray King, President and CEO of NUL-San Diego, and another charter school grandmother, Joette Spencer-Campbell, also attended the meeting and spoke candidly with the governor’s staff about their opposition to the legislation introduced by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach).

The meeting was set up after Porter wrote an open letter to Gov. Newsom and the California Legislature. It ran as a full-page ad in African-American newspapers statewide. The letter states that AB 1505 is “a direct attack on the ability of African-American parents to choose the best education possible for their children.”

California’s Charter School law, signed by former Gov. Pete Wilson in 1992, gave the independently-run charter schools (or petitioners interested in creating one) the right to an appeal process if a school district denies their application. The first step would be to appeal the decision with the county board of Education. In 1998, the law was amended, creating a second level of appeal with the State Board of Education.

Parents, members of both civil rights organizations and other supporters attending the meeting said they asked the governor’s office to maintain the current appeals process.

Jennings said she believes supporters of AB 1505 are not seeing the big picture.

“They put systems first and they put adults first,” she said. “Not that systems and adults don’t matter. But when you are talking about educating our kids, the kids should come first. If the kids come first, there would be no way that you would have a bill to eliminate the choice we have in charter schools.”

Porter said he left the meeting feeling optimistic that the group made progress.

“The voices of our families, parents, and grandparents were heard today,” he said. “We have some room to negotiate and work with the governor.”

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Anonymous

The reality is stark – and a poison pill for the so-called progressives fighting tooth and nail to keep every single penny in Becky and biff’s classrooms: Charter schools are THE only way to for families to break the race and income barriers erected all over Marin to keep out low income students of color.

Wade Stevenson
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Wade Stevenson

Charter schools are the only way?? Tell that to the kids that were systematically denied equal treatment in the Sausalito school district. Good to see that abuses were recognized and a settlement is in place to rectify a situation that charter school proponents probably don’t want to talk much about, just as they don’t want to talk about charter schools that close and leave parents and kids scrambling for a new school, or charter schools that take the cream off the top and then contend that their test scores are somehow not related.

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-Editor

First, we are not charter school “proponents.” We believe that anyone who has observed the often bad and incompetent behavior of the “managers” of public education would be desirous of a method to foster the development of progressive change. The only method we have seen that actually works is to go around the status quo. The entrenched powers are not going to give up their fiefdoms willingly. We are for the charter “method” of accomplishing the change that has not and is not occurring organically in the public school structure. Having said that, we believe that the label of “charter… Read more »

Wade Stevenson
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Wade Stevenson

Well, we disagree. That’s OK.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

The Marin City situation is unfortunate. Without a doubt, that district didn’t handle things well. On the other hand, Willow Creek is a very strong public charter school with a diversity of white, black, Latino and Asian students. If the settlements causes this school to close in favor of the district school, who loses?

Wade Stevenson
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Wade Stevenson

Wow! Anonymous, it really is possible to put lipstick on a pig!!!

Anonymous
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Anonymous

No lipstick, no pig. I’m just saying–what a shame it would be if the answer to this problem becomes shutting down Willow Creek. It would be sad for the 400+ kids at Willow Creek to lose their excellent school. I hope that there’s a way for all the kids in that district to get a quality education. Maybe merging is the answer. Sharing ideas, putting lower grades at one school, upper grades at the other? That community has their work cut out for them.