SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Charter school supporters are hoping Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes legislation passed last week by the General Assembly that essentially gives Big Labor the power to stop new charters from opening in the Golden State.
The Associated Press reports that under Assembly Bill 917, “at least 50 percent of teachers and support staff, such as cafeteria workers or custodians, would need to back any effort to convert a public school to a charter or (to) start a new one.”
The rules surrounding charter school petitions are already very stringent. Establishing a new charter school requires support from 50 percent of eligible parents, while converting a government-run school into a charter requires support from 50 percent of the teachers who’d be affected by the change, the AP notes.
If the proposed law takes effect, it would make an already cumbersome charter petition process nearly impossible – and that’s precisely the idea.
School employee unions – represented by the Service Employees International Union or the California Federation of Teachers – and their political surrogates oppose charters because their teachers and staff members typically aren’t unionized.
Charter leaders use their freedom from Big Labor’s “Thou Shalt Not” work rules to implement policies – such as longer school days and years – that increase student achievement.
But unionized school employees are more worried about their own financial and political well-being than student learning. They understand that every new charter school represents a direct threat to their existence. They can’t abide that, which is likely why Democratic Assemblyman Steven Bradford authored AB 917 in the first place.
It’s unclear how Gov. Brown will respond to the bill, though he vetoed a nearly identical bill in 2011. Brown also vetoed a union-backed bill last year that would have capped the number of charter schools allowed in California through 2017, CalWatchdog.com reports.