California Government Schools in Crisis: School Choice Helps Parents, Students and Teachers




ampoule arial, online sans-serif; font-size: 12pt;”>By Stephen Frank 

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) had a real graduation rate of 54% in June, 2016.  They spent $15 million, created unearned credits and gave 20% more students diploma’s without added knowledge or education.  This type of diploma earns them the ability to fill taco shells, until a robot takes that job from them.

You thought teachers with degrees, advanced degrees and training would be professionals.  LAUSD has a mandatory union, United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA).  You either pay the dues and abide by their rules or you are not allowed to be a teacher.  Does that sound like a professional?

Then you have the President of the union promising chaos for the next eighteen months—either give him the contract he wants or the students and parents will be penalized.  In 1970 the Los Angeles schools had a three week strike, followed by a nine days strike in 1989.  What does the current president of UTLA say?  Los Angles School Report notes, “Alex Caputo-Pearl said that “the next year-and-a-half must be founded upon building our capacity to strike, and our capacity to create a state crisis, in early 2018.”

Caputo-Pearl then walked through a 10-point action plan aimed at achieving strike readiness and advancing the union’s agenda between now and early 2018.”

The teachers are financing this state of crisis with their mandatory dues.  So far not a word from a single teacher in opposition to the call for crisis in the classroom.

Then you have Denver.  In 2004 the Denver Public Schools (DPS) had a 39% graduation rate and seriously started an effort to create “schools of choice”.  In fact, in just this District there are 60 different options and 25% of the students attend schools of choice and innovative schools.  In Colorado, 12% of all students attend public charter and innovative schools.

How has this affected the DPS schools?  In 2004 they had a 39% graduation rate.  In 2014 the rate was up to 65%.  Competition with the public charter schools (as they are known in Colorado) has also helped those staying in regular schools.  What makes Chrysler better?  Ford.

How do these schools operate?  From a presentation made at a bloggers conference in Denver in mid-August by the Independence Institute.  The conference was sponsored by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

“Charter schools are public schools that are given additional flexibility to innovate through waivers exempting them from certain state requirements.

Charter schools:

Cannot charge tuition

Cannot have special entrance requirements

Are bound by federal and state public school laws

Must administer state academic tests and conform to state academic standards

May not discriminate

Must accept students with disabilities and/or special needs if possible

May not teach religion”

In most cases the teachers are not union members.  And, they choose to work in public charter schools even though paid approximately $15,000 a year LESS than if they worked in regular District schools.  These are dedicated students.


From a report to the State of Colorado:  Teacher Experience

“The average experience of teachers in Colorado charter schools is 6.24 years for 2015-2016, with individual charter schools having a range of average teacher experience from 0.04 to 19 years. The median experience of teachers in Colorado charter schools was six years. The average teaching experience of teachers in the respective districts was 10.62 years.”

The test scores of those receiving free lunch are higher in charter schools than the scores of the non free lunch students in regular schools.  Also, like regular schools, public charter schools have 12% enrollment of special needs students.  In many of the public charter schools in Colorado there is 100% acceptance to four year colleges of the graduates—compare that to your school district, if they have the numbers.

Yes, the rules and laws in regard to charter schools and schools of choice are different in Colorado than in California.  But, the needs of the students have not changed nor are different.  All students deserve the best possible education geared toward their individual needs not those of the masses, society or special interest groups.  My guess is that by 2025, 50% of all Colorado students will be schools of choice.

California schools?  San Fran has segregated schools, 13% white students.  Los Angeles is even worse, 9% white students.  Our schools have low graduation rates, highly segregated—Santa Ana has 2.7% white students.  These schools remind me of 1950 Alabama.  Yet the public charter schools reflect the population surrounding the school area, based on choice of the parent—they are allowed to attend any school in the district, regular or charter.

Whether the unions and special interests like it, the parents are demanding more charter schools.  LAUSD has 100,000 students transfer from the District into charter school—with another 100,000 on the waiting list.  If the District wants to survive, it will have to open the charter schools—real ones, not those run by unions—in the end the parents will vote, not at an election, but with their feet and children.  Both San Fran and LA have lost the middle class.  The schools have declining enrollment, due to high housing and living costs and poor quality government schools. Uber, AIRBNB, the sharing society has shown that the new generation is willing to go in a different direction, willing to make changes in the way business is done.  Charter schools in California will be the future of education.  Innovative schools—even micro-charters, limited to 72 students are happening in California.  Online charters are growing fast and the demand for charter schools and schools of choice are growing as parents become aware of the quality of the schools—at some point the regular school districts will be forced to give the students what they need and parents want.  They want an education based on their children, not a theory of society and politicians making the choices.

The Colorado schools are pointing the way to make this happen, with the cooperation of the school boards, teachers, parents and the unions. All seem to be going in one direction, what is best for the child.  Colorado can teach California something about quality education.



Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank: Is the the publisher and editor of the California Political News and Views.  Mr. Frank speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows and is a full time political consultant.

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