Initiative That Would Shut Down Charter Schools In California Cleared To Gather Signatures

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A movement in California could shut down the state’s charter schools and return students to public schools.

A grassroots coalition is calling California charter schools discriminatory and unconstitutional. There’s now a proposed ballot initiative to repeal the California Charter Act of 1992.

“Some of these charter schools are literally in strip malls or little warehouses and there’s no building code safety requirements,” said Kathleen Carroll with Voices Against Privatizing Education.

She says it’s her mission to close down every California charter school. She calls it substandard education with no state government oversight.

“They gave private school boards that are unaccountable to the voters. It’s against the democratic process,” she said.

Funded by state taxpayers, charter schools are becoming a popular option for parents. In 1998 there were only 177 charter schools, but last year that number grew to more 1,230.

She says many of those schools lack diversity.

“Intensely segregated schools meaning over 90 percent of the student population is of one race,” she said.

She also claims many have unqualified teachers and staff.

“Teachers don’t have to be licensed and trained. Administrators don’t have to be licensed and trained and building safety codes don’t have to be followed,” she said.

Sac Prep Principal Norman Hernandez says his teachers are credentialed and his charter school has state oversight.

“Charter schools get audited twice a year. We have a preliminary audit in May which looks at all our controls and how we run the school. And then you have the financial audit that happens after the fiscal year closes,” he said.

Hernandez says there’s a long waiting list to get into the school because many parents want the freedom to choose.

“We’ve created an option that we’ve allowed them to have a private school education for free,” he said.

Carroll believes taxpayers shouldn’t spend another dime on charter schools, and the coalition is going to work hard to make that happen.

“Parents need to understand there are more than a few reasons why we need to focus on our real public schools and improve them,” she said.

The California Charter Schools association called it an “extreme measure that is clearly out of touch with the families of nearly three quarters of a million students in charter schools.”

More than 300,000 signatures are needed to get it on the November ballot.

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