Prop. Z’s Overlooked Charter School Promise

Prop. Z’s Overlooked Charter School Promise

File photo by Sam Hodgson

Students at Innovations Academy in Mission Valley, seen here in 2010, take their recess on a small area of grass and dirt behind the office building that their school is housed in.

 

While the heated debate about Proposition Z has focused on iPads and complex financial deals, it hasn’t covered what might be the most interesting aspect of the measure should it pass: San Diego could set a national precedent and see an explosion of new facilities for charter schools.

In fact, friends of charter schools have mobilized into some of the most enthusiastic backers of the measure. The political arm of the California Charter Schools Association has donated $100,000 to the campaign and supporters of the movement, like philanthropist Irwin Jacobs, are championing the initiative because of how far it’s going to help charters.

The amount of money Prop. Z will set aside for charter schools is unlike anything they’ve seen, anywhere.

“We’re not aware of any local communities which have done what San Diego is on the cusp of doing,” said Jed Wallace, CEO of the California Charter Schools Association.

Prop. Z would raise property taxes by $60 for every $100,000 of property you own, according to the assessed value of that property, not the amount you could sell it for. So if the assessor values your property at $300,000, it would be an increase of $180 year.

It will allow the district to pull an estimated $2.8 billion in loans. The money will go to a number of things, but $350 million will go to charter schools, new and old. The district will also set up a special committee dominated by “representatives of the charter school community” to advise the school board on how to divvy out the money.

The district can only change the amount of money sent to charter school facilities if enrollment in charters changes. It’s not clear what happens if charter school enrollment surges or plunges.

“Should Proposition Z pass, it will be looked at nationally as a benchmark and a message that parents and communities and the general electorate want successful charter schools to grow and thrive,” Wallace said.

This was likely very attractive to Jacobs.

If you were to try to very simply explain Jacobs’ views on education, you’d say he wants High Tech Highs across the region so that everyone who wanted to go to one could. Right now, the lotteries for those charter schools make it difficult to get in.

Jacobs is fine with investing more tax dollars in education as long as it’s paired with the freedoms and incentives that fueled High Tech High’s success. But turning schools into High Tech High might be harder than just building a bunch of new ones.

I asked Jacobs, who also supports Voice of San Diego, what he thought about that summary of his views and he went a step further. And what he said helped me understand why he’d support investing in the San Diego Unified School District, even though he’s so unimpressed with its current governance.

Supporting Prop. Z could be about a longer-term goal.

“I am increasingly convinced that we should move most students from SDUSD to charter,” he wrote in an email.

I’m Scott Lewis, the CEO of Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you’d like at scott.lewis@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it’s a blast!):

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Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis

I'm Scott Lewis, the CEO of Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at scott.lewis@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it's a blast!): @vosdscott.

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39 comments
Fred Wacker
Fred Wacker subscriber

When people went to vote on prop' Z it did not state that the money would come from your property ( house ) tax. This fact was hidden so that people would see only "mold and asbestos" on ballot.

Fred2070
Fred2070

When people went to vote on prop' Z it did not state that the money would come from your property ( house ) tax. This fact was hidden so that people would see only "mold and asbestos" on ballot.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross subscribermember

It comes as no surprise that Irwin Jacobs' is supporting a proposition that benefits charter schools. His bad judgement was exhibited in his pushing the Balboa Park bypass bridge plan which will increase maintenance in the park and his causing the city to finance the unneeded Balboa Park parking garage. More to the point however is one of his sons heads up the charter school at liberty station. Has anyone suggested that he pay the true value of that dragon product advertisement at Qualcom stadium so that some of that money could go towards our public schools? Then there are the serious questions about the draining of state revenue from public schools.

Activist
Activist

It comes as no surprise that Irwin Jacobs' is supporting a proposition that benefits charter schools. His bad judgement was exhibited in his pushing the Balboa Park bypass bridge plan which will increase maintenance in the park and his causing the city to finance the unneeded Balboa Park parking garage. More to the point however is one of his sons heads up the charter school at liberty station. Has anyone suggested that he pay the true value of that dragon product advertisement at Qualcom stadium so that some of that money could go towards our public schools? Then there are the serious questions about the draining of state revenue from public schools.

shawn fox
shawn fox subscriber

Prop Z is a tax increase, plain and simple. You either want to support that or you don't. This new information shouldn't have anything to do with whether you support that. By the way, if public schools aren't allowed to expel bad students or require them to do homework then perhaps that is the problem with public schools. If the purpose of the schools is to educate as many kids as possible then it seems to me that the best way is to end compulsory schooling laws. You cannot educate 100% of all people. Some people will chop your hand off when you reach out to them, no matter what you do. Perhaps it should be voluntary. Why punish people for not attending if they would simply distract others from learning? In the quest to make everyone "rich" we end up making everyone equally poor.

shawn1874
shawn1874

Prop Z is a tax increase, plain and simple. You either want to support that or you don't. This new information shouldn't have anything to do with whether you support that. By the way, if public schools aren't allowed to expel bad students or require them to do homework then perhaps that is the problem with public schools. If the purpose of the schools is to educate as many kids as possible then it seems to me that the best way is to end compulsory schooling laws. You cannot educate 100% of all people. Some people will chop your hand off when you reach out to them, no matter what you do. Perhaps it should be voluntary. Why punish people for not attending if they would simply distract others from learning? In the quest to make everyone "rich" we end up making everyone equally poor.

shawn fox
shawn fox subscriber

Thanks for the laugh. I had a good one after reading your comment. Requiring that students actually do their home work is "cherry picking"? They discriminate by requiring that people do their home work and that they don't fight or break rules? I'm having a hard time understand what your complaint is.

shawn1874
shawn1874

Thanks for the laugh. I had a good one after reading your comment. Requiring that students actually do their home work is "cherry picking"? They discriminate by requiring that people do their home work and that they don't fight or break rules? I'm having a hard time understand what your complaint is.

Sergio Padilla
Sergio Padilla subscriber

After reading the article, I still do not find how this proves that O'Farrell sends away "unwanted students", in fact I feel that it proves my point even further. The student that the article refers to was expelled from O'Farrell for being in violation of the school rules. Had the student attended Bell, or any other school and been in constant violation of the school rules, the same result would have occured, expulsion. School rules need to be followed at any site, charter or traditional. In fact it was the traditional school Principal that would not enroll the student at first. I agree with the parent, that the childish actions of the Bell Principal should not interfere with the placement of the student, however the student must receive the appropriate consequence for their actions.

Sandiegosurge
Sandiegosurge

After reading the article, I still do not find how this proves that O'Farrell sends away "unwanted students", in fact I feel that it proves my point even further. The student that the article refers to was expelled from O'Farrell for being in violation of the school rules. Had the student attended Bell, or any other school and been in constant violation of the school rules, the same result would have occured, expulsion. School rules need to be followed at any site, charter or traditional. In fact it was the traditional school Principal that would not enroll the student at first. I agree with the parent, that the childish actions of the Bell Principal should not interfere with the placement of the student, however the student must receive the appropriate consequence for their actions.

Dennis
Dennis subscriber

Let's be honest. SDUSD schools do not have the ability to turn away students who poison the learning environment like charter schools do.

Dennis Michael
Dennis Michael

Let's be honest. SDUSD schools do not have the ability to turn away students who poison the learning environment like charter schools do.

Sergio Padilla
Sergio Padilla subscriber

In response to the article about sending away "unwanted students", that is simply UNTRUE. O'Farrell actually has seen an increase in SPED students since leaving the SDUSD SELPA, something not known by many. O'Farrell prides itself in being able to assist all students, regardless of their level of need.

Sandiegosurge
Sandiegosurge

In response to the article about sending away "unwanted students", that is simply UNTRUE. O'Farrell actually has seen an increase in SPED students since leaving the SDUSD SELPA, something not known by many. O'Farrell prides itself in being able to assist all students, regardless of their level of need.

Dennis
Dennis subscriber

Stop the Charter school myths.

Lou Dodge
Lou Dodge subscriber

Thanks for all this informaton, btw, in the article and in the comments

4theprofession
4theprofession

Thanks for all this informaton, btw, in the article and in the comments

moleman
moleman subscriber

who do you think is picking up the kids that get booted? the public school system maybe?

moleman
moleman

who do you think is picking up the kids that get booted? the public school system maybe?

moleman
moleman subscriber

SDUSD would be for all the kids whose parents don't care or who have failed miserably academically...

moleman
moleman

SDUSD would be for all the kids whose parents don't care or who have failed miserably academically...

Frances O'Neill Zimmerman
Frances O'Neill Zimmerman

In fact, most charter schools struggle financially; too many are financially mismanaged and go belly-up (wasting scarce public resources); and it is still true that charter schools over all do NOT measure up to the academic performance of garden-variety public schools. (This is an American factoid, Jim Jones, not from a study out of "Great Briton.")

Emilio Torres
Emilio Torres subscriber

Aaryn, what does "publicly funded private school" mean? And what facts or evidence do you have to support your claim that charters cherry pick students? And precisely which Ed regs excuse charters from the mandates to "serve everyone"?

Emilio
Emilio

Aaryn, what does "publicly funded private school" mean? And what facts or evidence do you have to support your claim that charters cherry pick students? And precisely which Ed regs excuse charters from the mandates to "serve everyone"?

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

Teachers, because their greed is not best served by charter schools, criticize them with misleading information, but when a public school becomes a charter here it usually improves, and does so at a reduced cost to the taxpayer. That's a good thing, not as good as going with vouchers, but it's a step in the right direction, and it helps the kids who need help the most. Anyone who bothers to study the issue would see it's a no brainer, unless you are a teacher who puts greed before a kids education.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones

Teachers, because their greed is not best served by charter schools, criticize them with misleading information, but when a public school becomes a charter here it usually improves, and does so at a reduced cost to the taxpayer. That's a good thing, not as good as going with vouchers, but it's a step in the right direction, and it helps the kids who need help the most. Anyone who bothers to study the issue would see it's a no brainer, unless you are a teacher who puts greed before a kids education.

Vince Hall
Vince Hall subscriber

Just for clarification, charter schools are in fact public schools and they are part of SDUSD. Prop Z ensures that students at all public schools within SDUSD (charter, magnet, alternative or neighborhood schools) have access to safe, modern facilities.

VinceHall
VinceHall

Just for clarification, charter schools are in fact public schools and they are part of SDUSD. Prop Z ensures that students at all public schools within SDUSD (charter, magnet, alternative or neighborhood schools) have access to safe, modern facilities.

aaryn belfer
aaryn belfer subscriber

It's to better education for *some* children at the expense of others (of note: "we should move most students from SDUSD to charter"), to strip teachers of much needed representation, and to privatize education. And they're doing a very, very good job of it.

aaryn b
aaryn b

It's to better education for *some* children at the expense of others (of note: "we should move most students from SDUSD to charter"), to strip teachers of much needed representation, and to privatize education. And they're doing a very, very good job of it.

Pam Hardy
Pam Hardy subscriber

Jason-to your question of what charters offer that traditional schools don't: I'm an ardent supporter of public schools but moved my children to a charter because the rigidity of the curriculum and schedule did not serve our bright-but-fidgity child. Not all children learn in the same way. Allowing for flexibility to adapt an approach that meets the needs of individual children is something charters can do, but many traditional schools can't. At their best, charters are laboratories for new methods of teaching and learning that can be tested, proved, and implemented at traditional public schools. I'm glad Prop Z dedicates funds to help make this happen.

phardy
phardy

Jason-to your question of what charters offer that traditional schools don't: I'm an ardent supporter of public schools but moved my children to a charter because the rigidity of the curriculum and schedule did not serve our bright-but-fidgity child. Not all children learn in the same way. Allowing for flexibility to adapt an approach that meets the needs of individual children is something charters can do, but many traditional schools can't. At their best, charters are laboratories for new methods of teaching and learning that can be tested, proved, and implemented at traditional public schools. I'm glad Prop Z dedicates funds to help make this happen.

Michael Robertson
Michael Robertson subscribermember

Please no cheering that they're giving the most meager allocation to pretend like there's real choice in government schools. Voters should demand TRUE choice where any parent can select any school: private, charter, magnet, or govt school where their kid AND money would go. Anything short of that is just perpetuating the broken system we have today.

mp3michael
mp3michael

Please no cheering that they're giving the most meager allocation to pretend like there's real choice in government schools. Voters should demand TRUE choice where any parent can select any school: private, charter, magnet, or govt school where their kid AND money would go. Anything short of that is just perpetuating the broken system we have today.

Jason Lindquist
Jason Lindquist subscribermember

I don't see Irwin Jacobs as a privatization fanatic. His children are public school graduates and continued supporters. So that's an interesting thing for him to say... I'd like to know where he thinks we should go next?

jason74
jason74

I don't see Irwin Jacobs as a privatization fanatic. His children are public school graduates and continued supporters. So that's an interesting thing for him to say... I'd like to know where he thinks we should go next?