But now a group of activists hope to end the debate altogether by getting an initiative on the 2016 ballot to repeal the Charter School Act of 1992, the law that authorized charters to open in California.
As a beginning of the effort, the group, which calls itself “Voices Against Privatising Public Education,” has started an online petition and Facebook group, but they are going to need to gather a lot more momentum to accomplish the Herculean task. Through early today, the online petition has 808 signatures — well short of the 357,000 on-paper signatures needed to get the issue before voters.
The online petition says it is an effort to “build support, get contact information because once we file the proposed initiative, a clock starts ticking, and we only have 150 days to gather actual signatures. All the signatures must qualify 131 days prior to a statewide election.”
Leaders behind the petition are Nina Deerfield, publisher of the progressive San Diego-based newspaper Alianza North County; attorney Kathleen Carroll and Steve Zeltzer, an activist and founder of the Labor Video Project. Deerfield declined a request for an interview, and Carroll did not return a message seeking comment.
The petition does not mince words, throwing out many common accusations at the charter school industry, which it says “cherry pick students, falsify records, commit enrollment fraud, close down community schools, destroy jobs, bust up unions and segregate students.”
Should the petition gain momentum, it would be watched closely within LA Unified, which has over 101,000 charter school students, more than any in the nation. LA Unified also received news recently that a number of high-powered charter school backers like Eli Broad are crafting a plan to begin a dramatic expansion of the number of charters in the district.