Search The Tattler

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Assembly Bill Would Protect School District's Finances

In light of the recent attempt to form a new charter school in Emeryville, the Tattler includes information (below) about California AB1172, now winding its way through the State Legislature.  The myriad negative effects charter schools have on existing public schools are well documented but this bill addresses the deleterious fiscal effects charter schools might place on school districts and how school districts are now hamstrung to do anything about it.

As the law states right now, Emery Unified School District's School Board is not allowed to consider any negative fiscal effects on the district by the proposed new charter school known as Integrity Education Center, or for that matter, any future charter schools that might want to locate in Emeryville.  As it studies the placement of this new school in Emeryville, the school district might recognize calamitous financial problems for the district that the charter school would cause but the School Board is not allowed to reject the charter school on that basis.

We want to empower our local school board to make prudent financial decisions for our district, to be able to protect the district from any would be interlopers that would tend to diminish public education for ALL students in Emeryville.  We recommend passage of this bill both on educational grounds and on taxpayer protection grounds.

Emeryville's representatives are:
Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner
State Senator Loni Hancock
    .                      .                     .                    
Assembly Bill 1172
Petition for the establishment of charter schools: decision to grant or deny

Existing law requires the governing board of a school district, within 60 days of the receipt of a petition for the establishment of a charter school, to either grant or deny the charter, as specified. Existing law prohibits the governing board of a school district from denying a petition unless the governing board makes written factual findings in support of one or more specified findings.
This bill would include the finding that the charter school would have a negative fiscal impact on the school district, as specified, among those findings upon which a school district may base denial of a petition for the establishment of a charter school.
Existing law requires the Legislative Analyst, by July 1, 2003, to report to the Legislature on the effectiveness of the charter school approach and recommend whether to expand or reduce the annual rate of growth of charter schools. Existing law requires the Legislative Analyst’s Office to convene triennially a work group to review, commencing with appropriations proposed for the 2008–09 fiscal year, the appropriateness of the funding level provided by the categorical block grant for charter schools.
This bill would require the Legislative Analyst, on or before July 1, 2016, to submit a report to the Legislature on the best practices and lessons learned from charter school innovation and distribute it to all local educational agencies, to the appropriate education policy committees of the Legislature, and to the Governor.


  1. The EUSD is a Zombie District with both a history and future of nothing but failure after failure. Pouring more money into the District is like flushing money down the toilet. The District Board talks for hours and hours speaking in terms of nothing more than meaningless and tired old educational clichés. How much longer will the Boards empty chatter about “vision, communication, change, inclusiveness, responsiveness, empowerment, partnerships, support, open environment and wellness” continue? The Board never addresses its continuing failures as demonstrated by the Districts consistently poor State scores. I am tired of the Boards excuse machine. Most students who attend Emeryville schools are poor and 57% are African –American and 12 % are English language learners. If teachers and administrators can not teach students who are Black and poor, then they should leave the District. A competent Board would provide the direction and control of the schools so they can teach poor students and stop making excuses. Our student population is too small to support the District, and far too small if one was to eliminate the students who attend school in Emeryville but live elsewhere. Spending money on new building will accomplish nothing. What we need are teachers and administrators who know how to teach in the Emeryville environment and to dismiss teachers who can not teach. But the Board will never do this. We need to grade the teachers by objective standards, not just the students, but the Board will never do this. Emeryville generously funds school class sizes that are smaller than State average while at the same time we get generally below to average State score results. Only 17% of Emeryville students meet 8 th grade general math scores. School test scores are erratic and typically below average. I am confident that the Board has long winded and meaningless excuses for this too. We need a school board who can do something other than recite the tired old excuse play book that they have been parroting for years. The board spends more time on meaningless babble, awards for student groups who have learned how to play drums and how to spend bond money that will result in absolutely no long term improvement in student academic achievement.

    Our broken school district needs competition as the best option to address the Boards never ending excuse machine, unsuccessful plans and continuing academic failures. After years of failure we need a plan B and a charter school is the best plan on the table. Watch the entrenched Board fight it tooth and nail.

    1. While I agree the building of a new school is mostly unconnected to the idea of raising academic achievement and the School Board's empty platitudes are tiring, what's even more tiring are the Chicken Little rants from the right that low test scores from poor neighborhoods mean we must fire teachers or pay them less or make teacher pay based on student performance or build charter schools or let churches run the schools. It's really tempting to see low test scores and run to the nearest demagogue who would claim to have all the answers and all the answers involve denigrating the teachers. What these ranters can't seem to acknowledge is we aren't going to give up on public education and we've already tried blaming all this on the teachers.
      No, the solution, even though it's not sexy is to pay teachers more and lower class sizes and use the larger government to help smooth out the corrosive effects of capitalism on the poor. We're going to have to realize that 30 years of anti-Keynesian Republicanism have caused real societal damage that public school teachers can't be expected to solve. We're going to have to re-build a civil society.
      I know this is not a quick fix solution, nor is it sexy but it sure beats banging our heads against the wall and screaming and crying and voting Republican.

  2. I would say that both Emeryville liberals and conservatives who have money or have the finesse to put their kids in charter schools or other neighboring city's schools are the direct reason why Emeryville's schools are failing. I believe it takes the right kind of parent to make your child suceed. Even poor kids with parents who care send their kids elswhere. Do you remember in school gym sports, say dodgeball, where the two captains of each team would pick people in rotation till two teams were made. There were always the same last guys to be picked, they were not very athletic. The way I see it, comparing dodgeball to Emeryville schools, is that our school system(our team)does not have the ability to pick from the entire field as we are only left with only the un-athletic. Our other team is not here, and I don't think they want to play with us. How can a problem like this be fixed?

  3. I used to work at Emery (So GLAD I left, and it sucks that I feel that way).
    But one of the long time staff there, Mrs. Augustine, who has been there for over 40 years, talks about how in her tenure, nothing has changed.
    Board members come and go, the administration turns over faster than a dryer, but the dysfunction of the district has remained constant. In my time there it was a long string or poor superintendents, and a serious lack of leadership, and accountability.

    More Emery parents need to make education a priority, in my time there I saw most of the kids do poorly because there was no one at home putting value on education. No one was making sure they did their homework, no one was imparting on the kids how important education is now. The families who valued education had the best performing students.

    Parents also need to take an active role in superintendent selection, show up to meetings, and do your own research, if you don't hold the board accountable and put the fire to their feet, your are going to get lackluster superintendents, and a poor performing school district.

  4. The sad fact is that most of the board members are good people who really want to make a difference but they really don’t know how. They fool themselves that a shinny new campus will be the solution. At least it will be a physical “accomplishment” to be proud of. And the teachers, especially the younger ones who haven’t yet become disillusioned, want to make a difference, but they can’t succeed with students who don’t have competent, savvy parents. And the parents, many of whom failed in school themselves, and are distracted by their own problems, love their kids in their own way, but don’t properly support academic achievement. So parents who are savvy get their kids into an environment that avoids these problems, another district, charter school, or private school. And all of them the savvy parents, the non-savvy, the teachers, and the board are subject to political attack: racists, rightists, republicans, rich liberals, incompetents, bad teachers, bloviaters, cowards, political hacks. But the fact of the matter is no one knows how to fix bad parents, bad teachers, or bad students. (If you pay a bad teacher more you just have a well paid bad teacher.)

    1. Fixing bad parents is indeed problematic, however students and teachers are easier to fix. There are a number of well documented ways a district can help improve student function.
      The teachers union has provisions to fire teachers for truly bad work and the nearly bad can be brought into line by increasing compensation district-wide to increase professionalism. Compensation means pay, work conditions, retirement, and the like. Nearly bad teachers already in the district can be also improved, perhaps counterintuitively, by improving job security for all the teachers.
      This regime of paying more for better quality is supported by evidence in all professions including in the private sector. It has been shown that improving the professionalism of teachers by so increasing compensation not only brings better quality new hires but even helps improve existing low quality teachers by generally improving the level of professionalism in the culture at the district. These low quality teachers in an increasingly improving culture of high professionalism, generally turn out to rise to the occasion. Teacher function can also be improved by parental support of course but districts with high teacher compensation almost universally have better quality teachers across the board.

  5. EUSD has a long history of poor performance. It made some progress under former Superintendent Tony Smith. It has been stalled or back sliding since then. Parents should be able to send their kids elsewhere. The first priority of EUSD is not the success of the students, but to preserve itself and its flow of funds. Maybe a charter school can do better.