The California Constitution is clear about the importance of public education because “A general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence [is] essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people” But for many years, the status quo of schools was not allowing this important goal to be fully realized, and so the legislature enacted the Charter School Act in 1992 to provide an alternative the traditional public schools that the legislature hoped would:
- Improve student learning
- Increase learning opportunities for students, especially academically low achieving students
- Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods.
- Create new professional opportunities for teachers.
- Provide parents and students with expanded choices.
- Hold charter schools accountable for meeting measurable pupil outcomes with performance-based accountability.
- Provide vigorous competition within the public school system to stimulate continual improvements in all public schools.
To do this, the legislature provided more legal flexibility to charter schools, with less required regulations. But this does not mean that a charter school can just do whatever it wants. And further, even if it has the right to do something, it must be able to justify its use of that right, both legally and ethically.
I have written many policies that have been adopted by charter school boards, and when the boards and leadership followed these policies, it kept them out of trouble.