Charter Schools

Teachers unions and charter school advocates are battling for the future of California's classrooms.


Months of behind-the-scenes negotiations between legislators and education interests led to the final version of AB 1505, which adds significant regulations to the state’s sector of independently operated, publicly funded charter schools. The bill gives local school boards much more discretion in approving new charters and allows districts in fiscal distress to consider financial impact, which hadn’t been previously allowed. All charter teachers in California also would be required to hold some sort of state credential and undergo a background check, and new online charter schools would be banned for two years.


Education unions, including the California Teachers Association, support the bill by Long Beach Democratic Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell. Proponents, who also included State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, said its charter regulations are overdue and local school boards should have more power to decide how charters fit into their education needs. 


Charter school advocates — including the California Charter Schools Association — fought the bill along each step in the legislative process, characterizing it as an existential threat to charters in California. But the association formally shifted to a “neutral” position on AB 1505 after the bill’s original, more restrictive version was softened to retain a pathway to appeals for denied charters, and additional protections were secured. Republicans in the Legislature remained opposed, as do some charter leaders and advocates.


The legislation marks the most significant revisions to the state’s charter school law since its 1992 inception and, at least for the moment, puts to rest a years-long, deep-pocketed and bruising legislative fight between charter advocates and unions over charter schools.


The governor’s office helped broker the deal, and signed AB 1505 on Oct. 3, 2019.