Since the state legislature authorized the creation of charter schools in 1992, efforts have been made to change the laws surrounding the taxpayer-funded educational option. Currently, charters are autonomous, independent, and not connected to school districts, which stick to a strict curriculum.
Recently, AB 1316 was introduced in Sacramento and is due for a third reading in the Assembly. It uses one San Diego charter system scandal as a reason to regulate every charter school, even though the San Diego district attorney’s office filed several indictments, proving that the current oversight system is working.
“AB 1316 would essentially eliminate ‘non-classroom-based’ charter schools by imposing unworkable mandates for site-based programming, excessive limits on enrollment, and mandatory funding cuts,” according to a letter to lawmakers signed by some of California’s leading charter organizations.
“AB 1316 creates serious equity issues by penalizing at-risk students and their parents for choosing a different and more effective way of learning,” said Norma Vijeila, principal of Alta Vista Innovation High School. “By cutting funding and options for disadvantaged students, students of color, and those living in poverty, AB 1316 denies them the basic civil right to a quality education.
Vijeila believes that the bill places continued restrictions on nontraditional schools which are helping the most vulnerable students.
“In fact, the bill’s funding model says vulnerable students and students of color only deserve 70 cents to the dollar that all students receive,” she said. “Why should some students be considered less valuable than others?
Many charters serve students who had formerly dropped out, are from low-income households, and deal with multiple recurring obstacles that hinder their success in a traditional school such as parenting, needing to work, dealing with trauma, experiencing homelessness, or being in foster care. Some charters have the ability to create classrooms of one where the learning is personalized to the individual and delivered through one-on-one and small-group instruction, tailored to the student’s learning style.
“At the height of a statewide learning loss crisis, this is not the time to restrict proven models that engage students and provide them the support they need,” Vijeila said. “Students need individualized support – not less.”