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The Consequences of Unregulated Charter Growth

The Consequences of Unregulated Charter School Growth: Impacted Schools and Families

No legislation currently exists in California to regulate the fiscal and educational impact of charter school expansion on existing charter and district schools. Consequently, we see an over-saturation of new schools opening in certain areas, and existing schools suffer under-enrollment as a result. Unfortunately, some Alliance schools are among those negatively impacted by this lack of oversight. Last year, my school, Alliance Middle School #5, laid  off four educators due to declining student enrollment. Over the past several years, our enrollment has decreased by approximately 100 students.

The impact of declining student enrollment means fewer staff with potential program cuts. At my school, we no longer have the funding for an art teacher. We are no longer able to offer any honors classes. We simply cannot continue to have unregulated growth of new charter schools at the expense of our current schools and students. It is not sustainable for existing district schools or charter schools alike.

This lack of oversight is especially irresponsible in the parts of L.A. that are facing gentrification. My school is located in Lincoln Heights and some of our students’ families are struggling with the harsh realities of housing costs rising substantially. It seems like every week we get an email notifying us of another student un-enrolling because their family is being displaced, having to move inland to San Bernardino, Victorville, and even out of state. Between more charter schools being authorized and the impact of gentrification, we are finding it more and more difficult to meet our enrollment capacity with each passing year as the student population in the community declines.

As educators, we cannot be dismissive of these critical matters.  When school programs get cut or our schools close, it affects students, parents, and our whole community. It was just weeks ago that a PUC charter school in Eagle Rock closed on the fourth day of school without notice to anyone because of under-enrollment.

I became a teacher so I can advocate for my students and community, and I stand with the teachers across the city who are advocating for common sense regulation to address these concerns. Through our union, we as educators can affect positive changes to make our schools sustainable and improve our student’s learning conditions at our schools and throughout our community. Educators across Alliance are coming together to collectively advocate for the best schools for our students and our profession.

I urge you to join with us.

-Sylvia Cabrera, Resource Teacher, ACRMA Middle #5

Did you know?

  • In 2002-2003, there were 746,831 students enrolled in Los Angeles district and charter schools.
  • In 2016-2017, there were 625,523 students enrolled in approximately 200 more district and charter schools than in 2002- 2003.

* Source: 2017-18 LAUSD Superintendent’s Final Budget