Gavin Newsom Signs Charter School Bill Into Law

Two groups that usually find themselves on opposite sides of the charter school debate joined Gov. Gavin Newsom Thursday as he signed a sweeping set of new charter regulations into law.

“The fact that you are standing together makes me proud as a Californian,” Newsom told California Teachers Association President E. Toby Boyd and California Charter Schools Association President and CEO Myrna Castrejón at the signing. “This is what policy-making is about — the nitty-gritty work of moving the needle and making a difference for millions of kids.”

AB 1505 “affirms that high-quality charter schools are here to stay,” said Castrejón, and “ recognizes that existing and future charter schools are critical levers to close California’s continuing and persistent achievement gap.”

AB 1505 represents the most significant set of regulations governing charter schools in 27 years. It will give school boards more power to stop new charter schools from opening — namely, when the programs “duplicate a program currently offered” or when they can cause the district significant fiscal harm. Consideration of fiscal impacts in the charter approval process is a landmark change.

The law also preserves some important protections, however, which were key to preventing the California Charter Schools Association’s opposition. These include faster renewals for charters that are bridging the achievement gap and allowing charters to continue appealing denied petitions to county offices and the State Board of Education.

Despite CCSA’s neutrality, some charter advocates fear the worst.

As EdSource’s John Fensterwald explains, “some charter school advocates are predicting that the law will be catastrophic. Districts that have ignored the law’s requirements in the past will seize on the ambiguities in the language as an invitation for a denial and some county boards will rubber stamp those decisions, they say."

He adds that "how California’s 1,000 school districts interpret the language and courts eventually rule will determine if they’re right.”


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