On January 29, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner released the following statement, presented below in unedited form. For background details on the strike, click here.
Statement by Superintendent Austin Beutner on the Resolution Regarding Charter Schools
This Board Resolution is addressed to the Governor and Legislature in Sacramento where the laws and rules on Charter Schools are set. This is occurring in a very unusual circumstance.
This Resolution was suggested by a Board Member during the course of negotiations to help resolve a strike. Considered as part of the overall agreement with UTLA, I support the resolution as we are responsible for all of the students in LA Unified—500,000 students in traditional public schools, 125,000 in charter schools and another 75,000 in early education and adult education programs. I did not and do not feel any of those 700,000 students would be in a better position today if the strike had continued while the Board deliberated over this Resolution.
As far as the substance of this Resolution I would make the following observations:
1. I support school choice for families and recognize charter schools are one of the options for a high quality education. There is nothing in this Resolution to close any existing charter schools or reduce the many choices available to families in Los Angeles Unified.
2. The Charter School Act of 1992 and Prop 39, the ballot initiative approved by voters in California in November, 2000, sets forth all of the rules which govern the opening and operation of charter schools throughout California, including Los Angeles. All of these are non-profit, public schools and for-profit charter schools are unlawful in California. LA Unified does not have any for-profit charter schools.
3. The law is almost two decades old and it makes sense to me to pause while experts, not advocates, study all of the issues and propose what adjustments, if any might be appropriate to the law to provide a path for the next 20 years. The implementation of most laws, especially one as complicated as this, have impacts, good and bad, intended and unintended, and it’s just plain common sense to take a careful look.
4. Our responsibility at Los Angeles Unified is to make sure each and every one of our students is getting the best possible education and that all of the money our taxpayers provide us goes to schools to support students, and nowhere else.
All schools should be held to the highest possible standard of transparency and accountability, irrespective of their governance model or the nature of their contractual relationship with their employees.
More broadly, I would hope all of us engaged in the work of public education can recognize we need to find a way to work together to make things better. This is one of many areas we can work together to help provide a better education for our students and more support to all who work in schools to provide that education for all students. All means all.