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New charter legislation raises questions over its implications

By Jacob Kahn-Samuelson, Maxwell Taniguchi-King and Nethan Sivarapu

Staff Editors

Charter legislation in California has recently been updated to include more regulations on charter schools. The new charter legislation could have implications for Summit Public School campuses, with the new laws influencing how California charters are approved and how teachers are certified.  

California charter law has not been updated since 1992; and on Sept. 17, 2019 AB 1505 was signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom. AB 1505 has placed stronger regulations on charter schools and the process of how they are approved and renewed. 

At Summit, electives are known as Expeditions and take place for two weeks at a time, four times a year. College Readiness is an Expeditions class specifically for juniors to prepare them for college. New charter legislature might change things for electives teachers like Keith Brown, who previously taught College Readiness and currently teaches courses on pop culture and theater. 

Mr. Brown said how the laws might affect Tahoma and the Expeditions teachers who work there: “For Tahoma specifically I think it will harm college readiness stuff that Summit tries so hard for. There is not really a college readiness credential so I wonder how that is going to go. I worry that it is going to cause a lot of headaches.”

AB 1505 is a highly controversial law passed in California and was passed by a vote in the assembly of 44 yes votes, 19 no votes, and 17 members abstained while in the senate it received 27 yes votes, 11 no votes, and 2 members abstained. 

California assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, one of the lead authors of AB 1505, talked about the motivations of the bill, “The mission behind AB 1505 is not to end charter schools, but to ensure that they are accountable, successful, and serve all students.” 

Assemblymember Kevin Kiley opposes the bills and believes that they are specifically anti-charter, “These bills are both aimed at placing severe limits and restrictions on the charter sector which has been a goal of some people in the legislature for quite some time.”  

The largest teachers’ union in California, the California Teachers Association (which is the state organization through which SPS teachers are currently organizing a local chapter), expressed support for AB 1505 on their website, “AB 1505 by Assemblymembers O’Donnell and Bonta ensures local communities control the authorization and renewal of charter schools and also repeals provisions allowing the State Board of Education to approve, renew or hear appeals of charter school petitions.” 

Those who oppose AB 1505 claim it will harm charter schools and the limited appeals process will harm charter schools in the future. Jonathan Stewart, the executive director of Summit Tahoma, explained that Summit Tahoma was initially denied in its charter petition in 2009 and had to go through the appeals process: “So Tahoma appealed to the county and the county authorized Tahoma.” 

Before AB 1505, rejected charter petitioners could appeal directly to the State Board of Education. Under AB 1505, denied charter petitioners would first appeal to the county board of education; if they are denied from there, they can appeal to the state board of education which will only authorize their charter if they determine the school district or county abused its discretion. 

In addition to changing the appeals process, AB 1505 changes the teaching credential requirements for teachers at charter schools. Assemblyman O’Donnell explained the new teaching regulations, “Every teacher in a charter school shall have a background check and the appropriate credential to teach that subject within the next five years. A lot of charter school teachers now do not have teaching credentials so we want them to have teaching credentials. And a lot of charter school teachers now don’t have an adequate background check and we want them to have an adequate background check.” 

Here is an interactive detailing Bill 1505. To expand a text box and see the quote analysis, click on a square.

Mr. Stewart believes that the new teacher certification regulations will harm charter schools’ abilities to add good teachers: “The majority of teachers are credentialed, but not all of them. We have been able to get some people who are really masters of their crafts and really interested in working with students who we might not otherwise be able to get.”

AB 1505 changes the requirements for teachers at charter schools. AB 1505 explains the requirements of teachers under previous regulations, stating, “Existing law requires teachers in charter schools to hold a Commission on Teacher Credentialing certificate, permit, or other document equivalent to what a teacher in other public schools would be required to hold.” The law goes on to explain the new requirements: “This bill would instead require teachers in charter schools to hold the Commission on Teacher Credentialing certificate, permit, or other document required for the teacher’s certificated assignment, except that a person employed as a teacher in a charter school during the 2019–20 school year would have until July 1, 2025, to obtain that certificate, permit, or other document.” 

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