Granada Hills Charter High School and the Case for a Moratorium

Resolved further, That the Members of the Board of Education request the Governor, the California State Board of Education and the California Department of Education conduct a comprehensive study to inform future policy considerations for charter authorization reform;
- Proposed LAUSD Resolution

Granada Hills Charter High School is the poster child of why a moratorium on new charter schools is needed in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). This single school is currently larger than 86% of all school districts nationwide and under its recently approved expansion, it will add another 1,425 students. Lacking the manpower, funding, and willpower to provide adequate oversight, the District stands by while this publicly funded private school underserves the special-needs community, pushes students into an independent learning program against their will, constructs projects that endanger the health and safety of students and staff, and spends public money without adequate controls.

With a charter that has already been approved by the District, Granada will be unaffected by a proposal that would look into “a plan to pursue laws intended to authorize a moratorium on new charter schools within the boundaries of the District”. Still, they are using public education funds to coordinate a rally in front of LAUSD Board Member Scott Schmerelson’s Valley office to oppose the measure, misleadingly telling parents that it will “ban the opening of charter schools in Los Angeles.” The California Charter School Association (CCSA) is planning additional protests when the full LAUSD Board considers the motion on Tuesday.

The charter industry’s opposition to the Board resolution provides yet another example of how these privately run schools want to avoid any accountability for the public funding that they receive. While they pretend to support closing down underperforming charter schools, the CCSA has cried foul in the rare event that any of their schools are held up for scrutiny. In fact, even with the numerous documented problems at Granada, the CCSA supported their charter renewal and expansion.

According to Schmerelson, “82% of existing charter schools operating within LAUSD are under-enrolled”. This not only calls into question the charter industry’s assertion that their schools have waiting lists but also seems to indicate that there are more than enough charter schools to meet demand. Now would be a good time to hit the pause button and evaluate the results of the 25-year experiment in privatizing education.

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Carl Petersen is a parent and special education advocate, elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a “strong supporter of public schools.” His past blogs can be found at www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.