Another Legislative Attack Against California’s Charter Schools

Another Legislative Attack Against California’s Charter Schools

Destiny Charter Middle School students take part in a rally to support charter schools in Olympia, Washington, on May 17, 2018, after teachers’ unions sued over the state’s 2016 charter school law. (Ted S. Warren/AP Photo)

John Moorlach
John Moorlach


Updated: 12/21/2023


One of the sadder bullying efforts by teachers’ unions in the state of California, while I dealt with legislation in the state Senate, and ongoing, is the attacks on charter schools.
Charter schools can be non-unionized. So, the public-school unions controlling non-charter public schools are not amused with their sister competitor. Why? Parents and students are flocking to charter schools. And charter school teachers are happier than their counterparts in non-charter public schools.
Instead of emulating charter schools and improving their product, public school teachers’ unions are focused on tearing down the best component of public education this state has to offer.
How? They encourage their Democratic minions in Sacramento, whose campaigns they helped underwrite to get them into the California Legislature, to do their bidding. And since the Democrats control both the Senate and Assembly, they nibble away at charter schools with impunity.
We’re in the final week of this year’s legislative Session. In these final few days, hundreds of bills are being voted on by both houses. And charter schools are not getting a pass this year.
One antagonistic legislative effort is Assembly Bill (AB) 1604 by Assemblywoman Mia Bonta (D-Alameda), wife of former Assemblyman Rob Bonta, who was appointed to the position of California Attorney General by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Both Mia and Rob Bonta are aggressively forcing a union agenda on school districts.
What is unique about AB 1604 is that it makes real estate transactions and bond financing for charter schools more difficult. If this bill is signed by Newsom, it would require a charter school that puts a facility up for sale to offer a local educational agency, or another public agency, 60 days to acquire the building before listing it on the open market. And it would have to offer it at a reduced cost.
On its face, this sounds reasonable. But think it through. A building worth $2 million is being put up for sale in order to use the proceeds for a better facility. How does having to sell it to the school district at, say, $1.5 million help this strategy? It doesn’t. It increases the borrowing component of the next purchase and the related annual debt servicing costs.
AB 1604 is subtle. But it’s wrong. And it’s supported by the five organizations that represent the usual cast of characters in the bullying business: California School Employees Association, California Federation of Teachers, California Labor Federation, California School Boards Association, and California Teachers Association.
These are organizations who control the state’s legislature. AB 1604 passed in the Assembly in June with 51 votes from members of the supermajority. It passed in the Senate on Sept. 13 with 26 votes. It now heads back to the Assembly since it was amended in the Senate.
There are 65 organizations listed in the Senate Floor Analysis in opposition, many representing inner-city charter schools. But combined, they do not match the power of the five bullies and their angst against their successful educational competitors.
Since the bill appears set to pass the Legislature, get ready to appeal for Newsom to stop signing bills that hurt charter schools. But don’t expect that to happen, as he needs these same bullies to underwrite his Presidential aspirations. Yes, it’s really that crass.

John Moorlach is the director of the California Policy Center's Center for Public Accountability. He has served as a California State Senator and Orange County Supervisor and Treasurer-Tax Collector. In 1994, he predicted the County's bankruptcy and participated in restoring and reforming the sixth most populated county in the nation.

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