Simitian sponsors bill backed by charter schools

In semi-annual 'education update,' local senator discusses state budget outlook

State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, has introduced legislation -- favored by charter school interests –- that would boost oversight and accountability for the 912 publicly funded charter schools serving 365,000 California children.

The bill establishes minimum performance criteria charters must meet, or face hearings before the State Board of Education and the local chartering agency.

The bill is backed by the California Charter Schools Association but opposed by the California School Boards Association.

Simitian raised the topic to a somewhat skeptical roomful of school board members Saturday, who had gathered in Palo Alto for the senator's semi-annual "education update."

The support of the Charter Schools Association "has surprised everyone ... and it makes some people nervous," said Simitian, the son of two public-school teachers and long viewed as an ally of traditional interests in the rift that has grown between traditional schools and the more experimental charters.

"The reason (charter interests) are supporters is, their view is, 'We know we're subject to criticism, and we think if we can prove we're prepared to meet the high expectations people set for us, people will be more accepting of what we're trying to offer.'"

More than 100 people -- at least half of them school board members or administrators from districts from Santa Cruz to San Carlos -- gathered for two hours to hear Simitian's update.

Simitian said he sees "the basic outlines" of a deal for the legislature to agree to a state budget by June 15, involving compromises on public-employee pension reform, a state spending cap and some reforms of the California Environmental Quality Act.

But Gov. Jerry Brown's failure to get a June ballot measure to extend $12 billion in taxes for five years presents the potential for a "world of hurt."

Although state income and property-tax receipts have come in somewhat higher than expected, a serious budget gap remains if the legislature refuses to unilaterally extend the taxes pending a statewide vote.

"Bleak doesn't begin to describe it," he said.

"There's going to be a lot of scrambling to make the unworkable work," including furlough days and a shortened school year, he said.


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Posted by Mountain View resident
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 6, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Does Simitian represent Mountain View?

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Posted by MV is in District 13
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jun 6, 2011 at 4:18 pm

@Mountain View Resident.
Elaine Alquist represents Mountain View (part of District 13). Simitian's views on education are still relevant though as he represents Los Altos (i.e. a big chunk of the Moutain View Los Altos High school district and of the Los Altos School District -attended by over 1,200 Mountain View kids-).

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Posted by American Teacher
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2011 at 6:02 am

Charter schools need more scrutiny, many are financially mismanging their funds and the education is no better than traditional public schools. Lately many teachers have no credentials and one charter school "movement' the teachers are imported on h1-b visas.

Web Link

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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2011 at 6:32 am

"many are financially mismanging their funds"

I certainly hope you are not an American teacher of English!

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Posted by Charter Fan
a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2011 at 7:25 pm

American Teacher:
In most cases teachers at charter schools are actually more qualified than teachers at union controlled schools. Look at the qualifications of the teachers at Bullis Charter School. I can't think of a single local school that even comes close.

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Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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