Accountability California Charter Schools Education Industry Education Reform Privatization

California: Did Tony Thurmond Give the Charter Task Force to the Charter Lobby?

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Last November, there was a bitter contest for the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction in California.

The charter lobby pumped millions of dollars into the campaign of Marshall Tuck, former CEO of Green Dot charter schools. The charters spent twice as much as the California Teachers Association, which backed Tony Thurmond.

In a tight race, Thurmond won.

In two recent teachers’ strikes, in Los Angeles and Oakland, teachers demanded a moratorium on new charters until the fiscal impact of charters on public schools was thoroughly studied.

In response, Governor Gavin Newsom asked State Superintendent Tony Thurmond to set up a task force to examine the issues that charters raise and consider any needed revisions in the law.

Thurmond appointed an 11-member panel. Not a single one of the 11 is a teacher, even though teachers raised the questions in their strikes.

Worse, a possible majority of the panel represent the charter lobby that fought so hard to defeat Thurmond, smeared him with negative ads, and lost.

Here are some of the members:

  • Cristina de Jesus, president and chief executive officer, Green Dot Public Schools California;
  • Margaret Fortune, California Charter Schools Association board chair; Fortune School of Education, president & CEO;
  • Lester Garcia, political director, SEIU Local 99; (Charter against Jackie 100K Broad IE)
  • Beth Hunkapiller, educator and administrator, Aspire Public Schools
  • Ed Manansala, superintendent, El Dorado County; board president, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association; (El Dorado Charter Officers. President. Marcy Guthrie … Ed Manansala, Ed.D., County Superintendent El Dorado Co. Office of Education

    Rite of Passage Charter High School – El Dorado County Office of Education …

  • Gina Plate, vice president of special education, California Charter Schools Association;
  • Edgar Zazueta, senior director, policy & governmental relations, Association of California School Administrators. (LED Endorsement of Marshall Tuck)

It appears that seven of the 11 task force members are in the tank for charter schools.

This is by no means a balanced or open-minded committee.

How likely are they to propose tighter regulation of charter schools?

How likely are they to propose that districts should not be allowed to open charter schools in other districts, a policy that has led to financial abuses?

How likely are they to curb the waste, fraud, and abuse that allow fly-by-night charter schools to open in strip malls, collect money, then disappear?

Tony Thurmond, what happened?

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