Sacramento’s Troubling Opposition to Parental Choice and More Educational Options for Students

May 22, 2019

Assemblyman Vince Fong

With no exception, preparing students for educational success should be the top priority of California’s school system. We must recognize that we must provide parents the opportunity to place their children in the best educational environment to learn and grow.

Public charter schools offer innovative options for students of all different backgrounds. Many charter schools offer new learning methods than can foster different methods for students to learn in often smaller class sizes, that can lead to better academic outcomes. I have seen first-hand students thriving in charter schools throughout California especially in under-served communities.

Many children at these schools receive an educational experience that better caters to their needs, rather than having to learn in a one-size-fits-all model. Some schools, like those in the Montessori model, allow students to learn by integrating visual and physical experiences to aid in learning. Other charter schools are outstanding in STEM education which is sorely needed in California and are in very high demand in the workforce. Some charters specifically address the educational needs of foster youth and others have provided pathways into career technical education. This type of innovation and creativity should be fostered and encouraged to benefit our students.

Unfortunately, there is an attempt to try to limit parents’ ability to choose the best educational opportunities for their children. Charter schools are now in their cross-hairs in recent package of legislation that aims to limit the amount of charter schools in the state and impose new burdens on how these schools are regulated. AB 1505, AB 1506 and AB 1507 together will cap the number of charter schools at its current level (around 1,300 statewide) and also takes away a charter school’s ability to have more than one resource center in a school district. A resource center is a place where non-classroom based learning, such as independent study, takes place. This an important educational opportunity for students with different learning needs.

At the end of the day, what could possibly happen is that the public charter schools in our communities will go away. At stake in this debate is a parent’s right to choose what is best for their child’s education. No parent should ever have choices taken away when they must decide what is best for their child and their academic success.

The Central Valley is home to Grimmway Academy and Wonderful College Prep Academy helping students in Arvin, Delano, Lost Hills, and Shafter. I have met countless parents and students who have shared stories of academic success. I have also visited the East Bay Innovation Academy in Oakland, the Samueli School in Orange County and the Alliance Baxter College Ready High School in Los Angeles and have heard similar success stories.

Recently, I spent time in the classrooms of Vista Heritage Global Academy in Santa Ana, which has done tremendous work getting their students caught up to the appropriate reading levels through non-traditional and integrated learning methods. This charter school’s student population is currently 99% Hispanic because of the community it serves and is also educating a significant number of special needs children. We should be encouraging the growth and educational opportunities for the millions of California students who deserve a quality education. We should demand that Sacramento not play politics with the future of our children.