Tuesday, March 26, 2019

House Democrats' statement on Speaker, Republicans disingenuously pulling plug on charter school reform

PHOENIX- House Democratic Co-Whip Reginald Bolding today spoke out against House Speaker Rusty Bowers' arbitrary decision on Monday to kill much-needed charter school reform for this legislative session. Bolding is the ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee, which was supposed to debate Senate Bill 1394 on Monday, and the lead negotiator on reforms for the House Democratic Caucus. Bowers refused to first read the bill, preventing a planned hearing in the House Education Committee on Monday, and then tried to blame Democrats in a press release.

"The Speaker is disingenuously trying to blame Democrats for his decision to kill charter school reform when he supports the status quo that has enriched unscrupulous charter school owners with taxpayer money and outraged the public across the state. In reality, Senate Bill 1394's sponsor, Senator Kate Brophy McGee, would only accept input approved or written by charter school lobbyists on the so-called reforms, and even those purely cosmetic tweaks were too much for the Speaker, so he stuck it in his drawer and denied it a hearing.

Despite the Speaker's unfounded claim, Democrats do not oppose charter schools. Democrats oppose powerful legislators owning charter schools and gaming the system to cash out with millions of dollars. Democrats oppose self-dealing and conflicts of interest that have gotten at least one district public school superintendent prosecuted but will still be legal for charter school owners because of this Republican failure. We have 29 House Democrats ready to support relatively minor changes to the bill that would add some actual transparency, oversight and teeth, and most importantly would restore public trust in our charter school system."

Bolding's proposed amendments to SB1394 were:
  • Establish a prospective ban on for-profit charter schools(LINK).
  • Require additional transparency for charter management organizations, CMOs, by requiring the disclosure of how much charters are paying for each service a CMO provides(LINK).
  • Cap how much state money CMOs can spend on administration expenses(LINK).
  • Provide additional transparency for charter holders by requiring the establishment of charter holder boards that are required to follow open meetings laws  and cannot be filled with family members(LINK).
  • Prohibit self-dealing by charter school board members(LINK).


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