Charter Schools: Unregulated growth and lack of accountability

California students deserve to receive a quality public education. That’s why classified employees, teachers and parents are deeply concerned with the unregulated growth and lack of accountability of the state’s 1,300 publicly funded, privately managed charter schools.

CSEA does not oppose charter schools; however, they should comply with the same laws as traditional schools. The fact that charter schools do not have to comply with the same laws has resulted in serious problems for students, parents and employees in charter schools and traditional schools.

Impact on our communities

There is no definitive determination that charter schools are more, or less, successful than traditional public schools, but one thing is certain – it leaves a lasting impact on our communities.

While public schools serve the local community by accepting all local students who enroll, charter schools are selective and only serve a small segment of students. They also tend to be more racially segregated than traditional public schools and often fail to serve students with special needs. Because it is easier for charter schools to “dismiss” a student, they often take students who present disciplinary issues or other challenges and refer them back to public schools and retain only the students they want. This is disruptive to students and harmful to public schools.

Lack of transparency and accountability

Charter schools are less transparent than public schools and often take advantage of looser regulations when it comes to accountability.

The public is unable to effectively monitor the performance of charter schools in their community because charter school boards can meet as infrequently as they like. Charter board members are exempt from Education Code provisions that bar district board members from taking bribes from job applicants, potential contractors and textbook publishers.

Siphoning resources from public schools

Charters drain money away from traditional public schools. When a student leaves a neighborhood school to attend a charter school, all the public funding for that student leaves with the student, but the costs remain for the public school. The student’s neighborhood school still must maintain its facilities, employ administrators and staff and keep the school running even though its ADA funding went with the student who left for a charter school. Every taxpayer dollar that is diverted to these privately-managed schools is money that is no longer available to help improve neighborhood public schools.

Too many charter schools

The California Legislature passed the Charter Schools Act in 1992, allowing for a maximum of 100 charter schools in the state. In 1998, that cap was lifted, and charter schools mushroomed to roughly 1,300 today. Studies show that nearly 450 charter schools have opened in places that already had enough classroom space for all students. According to research, over the past 15 years, $2.5 billion of taxpayer money has been misspent on charter school facilities that were not needed or delivered a low-quality education.

In urban areas such as Los Angeles and Oakland, charter schools have seen a disproportionate spike, which has created enrollment turmoil in neighborhood public schools and an ongoing struggle over local resources. In Los Angeles, nearly 1 in 5 students currently attends a charter school.