There’s a lot of talk about charter schools these days.
Anaheim Union High School District Calls for Moratorium
In Orange County, the Anaheim Union High School District has called for a temporary moratorium on approval of new charter schools statewide until legislators correct what they call “overly permissive law that enables charters to operate on a business model whose main goal is to make money.”
“Although there is nothing wrong with making money, when it comes to public education, our children should be our first priority,” Superintendent Matsuda said. “While charter school proponents may say they care about kids, many charters operate in the shadows with no transparency, no accountability, and no public review.”
“All Californians should demand an immediate halt to approval of charter schools until the laws are fixed and accountability is restored” says the Board’s public statement.
Much of this reaction reflects the deep philosophical divide between the Anaheim Union board and the Orange County Board of Education (OCBOE) and specifically the OCBOE’s response to two controversial charter school applications in the Anaheim Union district. The OCBOE has authority to grant charters without local consent. According to the Anaheim Union Board, the OCBOE board president “believes in handing over control of our public schools to private organizations, and is moving forward approving just about all charters…”
Are Charter Schools the New Subprime Bubble?
In a recent interview, a professor of urban education at the University of Connecticut shares his concerns that the proliferation of charter schools could presage a bubble much like the subprime lending market, and could have the same disastrous effects, but this time on education not the financial market.
Preston Greene discusses his study saying that the the federal government is encouraging the expansion of charter schools with little oversight, and the result could be a charter school bubble that blows up in urban communities. The concern stems from calls to increase the number of entities who can authorize a charter school. Similar to the concerns expressed by Anaheim Union, Greene fears that the multiple authorizers with little or no “skin in the game” will ultimately increase the number of charters approved while degrading the overall quality of charters.
Greene sees signs that the bubble may already be bursting in some parts of the country where “charters have been sued for failing to provide students with disabilities with an education.” Greene, like Anaheim, calls for more standards of accountability and transparency for all charters.
Valley Oak Charter in Ojai
Differing from the concerns of the Anaheim Union school board, Valley Oak Charter School in Ojai was not inserted into the community by suspect outsiders operating in secret. And as a hybrid support school for home-based independent study, it doesn’t directly compete with OUSD schools. We are fortunate that the school staff includes many individuals with a long and distinguished teaching history in Ojai. Valley Oak makes its LCAP and other documents available on its website.