Yesterday was an important day for public charter schools in Los Angeles. Yesterday hundreds of Green Dot parents, students, teachers, staff and community partners joined thousands of others in front of the LAUSD headquarters for a rally ahead of a Board vote on a resolution calling for a statewide moratorium on charter school growth. Those gathered called for unity, a continued focus on ensuring high-quality educational options for all, and respect for parents’ right to choose where their children attend school.
Unfortunately, the LA School Board voted 5-1 in favor of the resolution that asks the California State Legislature to impose a temporary moratorium on new charter schools. “While Green Dot California does not have any plans of opening new schools within LAUSD, we know that a moratorium on new charter schools could limit the educational options afforded to some of the highest-need communities in the city,” said Dr. Cristina de Jesus, Green Dot California’s Chief Executive Officer.
Per California Ed Code, there is already a statewide cap that allows for only 100 new charter schools to be authorized annually. A temporary moratorium in LAUSD is no drop in the bucket for the charter sector in California--it is a green light for legislators in Sacramento to follow suit. “The road to equitable opportunity for students in California that most need high quality schools just got longer and more arduous,” remarked Chad Soleo, Green Dot National’s Chief Executive Officer. “In true Green Dot character, we will double down on our commitment to traverse that road with our families and students. Our mission hasn’t changed; our resolve is strengthened. We will continue our work building strong coalitions across California and beyond.”
In addition to adding fuel to the fire of anti-charter rhetoric, the passing of this resolution could have some very near-term repercussions for charter schools in and around Los Angeles. It may mean that our annual oversight visits and every five-year reauthorization become even more stringent and difficult, and it may fuel the momentum of other anti-charter legislation in Sacramento.
After nearly two decades of operating high quality public schools in underserved neighborhoods across the city, Green Dot knows that such changes in the local political climate should be expected, and we remain focused on what matters most: our students. “Despite the fact that yesterday’s vote did not land where the thousands of parents and community members at the rally had hoped, I ended yesterday filled with hope and inspiration,” reflected de Jesus. “Yesterday’s rally helped to amplify the voices of parents. Yesterday’s rally was a reminder of just how much parents and the city of Los Angeles care about education. Yesterday’s rally was a reminder that the parents of the 11,500 students we serve in our schools entrust us with their children and expect us to deliver on our promise to prepare them for college, leadership and life. Yesterday’s rally was a beautiful expression of civic engagement and of social justice in action.”
The same sentiment resounds for Soleo: “The board’s vote is a disappointment, of course; but it is no surprise,” he said. “Those who benefit from existing and historical systems that neglect or discriminate against our students are going to push back as we fight for the communities we serve.”
At Green Dot, we plan to move forward on actualizing our mission with even more urgency, more ánimo, and more compassion. Together, we can and will continue to pry open doors of opportunity and nurture the brilliance within every child.