CTA and CFT sponsor legislation that imperils charter schools in California.

On April 27, Rasmussen Reports released the results of a poll which addresses American voters’ sentiments about our public schools. Some of the more interesting findings are:

• 72% say taxpayers are not getting their money’s worth from our schools, while only 11% think we are.
• By a margin of 41-34 (25% were unsure), those polled said that spending more money on education will not improve student performance.
• 61% said that public education had become worse over the last ten years.

Given the citizenry’s increasing disaffection with our traditional public schools, charter schools would appear to be a good alternative. Charter schools are public schools which are allowed to operate outside the boundaries of costly multilayered district bureaucracies and piles of restrictive union mandated rules and regulations.

There have been many studies of charter school effectiveness, with most showing them doing a superior job to traditional public schools. While there are a few studies that show there is no difference in educational outcomes, it is indisputable that most charters not only get the job done, they do it using far less money. For example, in California charters get only 69% of the funding that traditional public schools do.

California, with one of the most troubled traditional public school systems in the country, has 912 charter schools according to the California Charter School Association. This is the largest concentration of charters in the nation, serving 357,610 students. CCSA recently stated that their analysis shows “charters serving low-income populations are generating significantly better academic results than traditional public schools serving the same populations, thus demonstrating that charter schools are weakening the link between poverty and underperformance that is so prevalent in the traditional system.” Not bad results for 69 cents on the dollar! (For more information on charter school performance and accountability in CA, go here.)

Given the public’s disaffection with traditional public schools, one might assume the Golden State would be strengthening its charter school laws and adding more schools, but this is anything but the case. In fact, via AB 1172, State Assemblyman and former teacher and union activist Tony Mendoza is trying to restrict charter’s access to funding and force new regulations on them to the point where they could be killed off in a short period of time.

Not surprisingly, the California Teachers Association is a sponsor of AB 1172. In CA, only about 15% of charter schools are unionized and this presents a great problem for the teachers unions. Given the need to unionize every teacher they can, so as to maintain their position as the state’s biggest power broker, charter schools are clearly an obstacle that must be overcome.

Courtesy of Kyle Olson, President and CEO of the Education Action Group, we get to see the union’s frustration with charter schools in a refreshingly honest video. While the union bosses in the video are New Yorkers, the union mentality as portrayed is universal. We don’t hear the usual union disingenuous blather about their actions being “for the children” that we experience in print, radio and TV ads. We do see Leo Casey, a United Federation of Teachers Vice President, equating charter schools to Walmart — both entities being very resistant to unionization. Pounding on the table, he says that it is very important that charters be unionized. Stanley Aronowitz, a long time union radical is even more brutally honest when he says that charter schools are “ratty and should be abolished,” but then goes on, “…yet at the same time we should organize them.” Nope, no warm and fuzzy talk at this meeting – just the good old-fashioned, “If we can’t kill ‘em, we have to organize ‘em” mentality. Nowhere in this video is any thought or concern expressed for school kids, their families or taxpayers. But as I said, this is a union meeting, not some faux sentimental ad, the purpose of which is to con the public.

Not to be outdone by bigger brother CTA, the California Federation of Teachers is sponsoring a different piece of legislation. AB 401 would cap the number of charter schools in CA at 1450. So just when charter expansion is needed, a teachers union is trying to strong-arm state legislators into applying the brakes.

The bottom line is that teachers unions may do some good for its dues paying members, but for children, their families and taxpayers, they are poisonous. As such, when the unions sponsor legislation, people everywhere must take heed and fight back.

About the author: Larry Sand is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

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