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Charter schools call proposed L.A. moratorium illegal

Charter school advocates are mounting a campaign against a proposed moratorium on new charters in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The moratorium is one provision of a resolution, by school board member Steve Zimmer, that is scheduled for discussion on Tuesday.

Any moratorium would violate state law, according to the California Charter Schools Assn., in a Friday letter to L.A. Unified. The proposal “very clearly violates the Charter Schools Act,” wrote the group's general counsel, Ricardo J. Soto. “The Board of Education must continue to accept, hear, and take action on all charter petitions.”

Charter schools are independently operated and free from some provisions that govern traditional public schools. Most are non-union. L.A. Unified has more charters, 186, than any other school system in the country. The school district oversees and authorizes charter schools within its boundaries.

Zimmer has frequently decried the loss of students to charter schools. His proposal calls on all schools to share data as well as practices that could improve instruction. It also seeks stricter oversight of charters, which would include a proposed committee with representatives from organized labor and charter schools. The moratorium would extend during an unspecified period while the other measures were put into place.

The Zimmer resolution is not scheduled for action until Oct. 9, but already two major charter organizations, KIPP and the Alliance College-Ready group, have sent out email alerts. The website of an Alliance charter has a page titled “Action Plan Against Zimmer” with handouts for parents in English and Spanish.

“He [Zimmer] believes you do not need any more good schools in your community,” the handout says.

In her email, Alliance chief executive Judy Burton wrote: “If the Zimmer resolution passes, great charter operators like Alliance will not be allowed to open new schools and offer more students the high-quality education they so rightly deserve." She added: “This is a very serious challenge to one of the most successful school-reform efforts of the past 20 years.” 

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-- Howard Blume

 
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