Shown (L to R): Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, Assemblyman Rob Bonta and Oakland Education Association President Trish Gorham.
Lawmakers, parents, educators, students, and community organizations joined Assembly Members Rob Bonta and Tony Thurmond at a rally at Oakland Technical High School last week to support bills to ensure corporate charter schools are accountable, transparent and providing unbiased access to all students.
Proposed legislation includes: AB 699 by Assembly Member Patrick O’Donnell that would help safeguard our immigrant students; and charter-related legislation SB 808 by Sen. Tony Mendoza, AB 1478 by Assembly Member Reggie Jones-Sawyer, and AB 1360 by Assembly Member Rob Bonta, which address of many of the charter schools’ injustices and fraudulent practices that are reportedly impacting California students.
“AB 1360 provides equal opportunity for our students by ensuring they have fair access to learning opportunities in all publicly funded California schools,” Assembly Member Bonta said. “Our young people must not be disadvantaged or pushed out of learning environments through unfair admissions policies or disciplinary rules. AB 1360 puts our children first.”
“Community schooling is an innovative and creative way to address the academic, social and community development of a child, by ensuring that they are connected to critical support systems such as high-quality instruction, health, housing, early education and afterschool programming,” Assembly Member Thurmond said. “Our school districts, local governments, and community partners coming together in collaboration will ensure the success of all our students.”
Trish Gorham, president of the Oakland Education Association, said these are uncertain times for public education. “The goal of President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and their billionaire buddies is to starve our public schools, then label them as failures, then privatize them,” Gorham said. “Our California Alliance for Community Schools is pushing back with our goals to protect public education now and for the future.”
Brianna Carroll, a California Virtual Academies high school teacher and president of the California Virtual Educators United, also spoke out at the rally. “It is important that resources are used to provide our students with the education they deserve. That has been a real struggle at my charter school. Legislation that ensures accountability, transparency, and local control will protect students in all of our schools.”
In support of AB 1478, Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, a professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State University-Sacramento, said, “We have a legislative opportunity to give charter supporters the transparency and accountability that they say in public they support, but still ask the California Charter Schools Association to spend millions of dollars to oppose.”
Oakland Unified school board member Jody London said the bills would increase local control of charter schools. “Local school boards know best the needs of their communities. These bills recognize the importance of local control.”
Last Friday’s rally event was one of 10 rallies and delegations that took place in Los Angeles, San Diego and the Bay Area to urge legislators to publicly support the charter school accountability bills in Sacramento.
The events were sponsored by the California Alliance for Community Schools – a new, statewide network of community organizations and teachers’ unions committed to adequately funding public education, lowering class sizes, making schools safe havens for all, and meaningful shared decision-making, along with ensuring charter schools are accountable to our communities.