Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a number of bills this month, among them is one that will allow Black-owned-and-operated charter schools in California to continue to educate some 52,800 Black students in the state without the fear brought on—and intensified—by speculations that certain legislators, with the backing of teachers unions in California, were angling to shut them down. 

The other will benefit African American-owned newspapers and other niche market newspapers. 

AB 1505

The first bill, AB 1505, ends the uncertainty that put Black charter school operators on the defensive during a more-than-a-yearlong fight about the future of charter schools in the state.

California charter schools owned and operated by African-Americans are largely credited with working on the leading edge of efforts to close the wide academic achievement gap that exists between African-American students, who are the lowest performing racial group in the state, and their peers of other races. 

In English Language Arts, for example, there is more than a 40 percentage-point gap between African-American public school students’ standardized test scores and that of their White counterparts. In math, the disparity is more than 50 percentage points. 

AB 1505 makes the most significant changes to California’s Charter School law, which former Gov. Pete Wilson signed into law in 1992. The language and provisions in the final version of the bill includes the input of various education stakeholders in the state, including unions representing traditional public school teachers, state education administrators, academics, as well charter school leaders and backers. 

“It listens to the needs of school districts and authorizers to be able to weigh the fiscal impacts and the community impacts before making a decision about whether or not to authorize a charter school,” said Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

AB 170

On Oct. 2, a day before signing AB 1505, Newsom signed AB 170, a law that gives newspapers in California a one-year extension to reclassify the contract drivers who deliver their newspapers as W-2 employees, or come up with  a new way to distribute their newspapers to subscribers.

Black-owned newspapers across the state joined hundreds of others last month to call on the governor and legislature to create a carveout for their industry under the new rules of AB 5, also known as the Dynamex Law. The publications—many of them small family-owned weeklies—said the high cost of having to immediately hire part-time contract drivers as full-time employees would have been unaffordable and forced them out of business. 

“As a constitutionally protected industry, we are fighting on many fronts to continue to report critically and objectively on issues that are important to the people of California. And CNPA, for over 130 years, has remained vigilant in that effort as we help our hundreds of member and non-member news publishers fulfill their missions to serve their communities and provide vital information to the public,” said Paulette Brown-Hinds, president of the California Newspaper Publishers Association.