The voice of California’s charter school movement

“OH COME ON, ERIC!” --- CCSA President Myrna Castrejón brings facts to conversation with CTA Head

By Aaron Guerrero

At CCSA, we are eager to work in good-faith with everyone on policies that improve public education by putting kids first. We’ve demonstrated this time and again by supporting important charter reforms around student discipline and admissions, and banning for profit charters. But when our critics use rhetoric that is so strikingly detached from the results our schools are delivering for California’s most vulnerable students, we have no other choice but to speak up.

That’s exactly what happened during a recent KQED interview between our President and CEO Myrna Castrejón and California Teachers Association (CTA) President Eric Heins.  

As Heins delivered a steady stream of misleading and disingenuous claims, Myrna had no other choice but to finally say:


You can listen to the full interview here. But let’s go through some of Heins’ most head-shaking characterizations and statements:

“Corporate charters.”

OH COME ON, ERIC: Heins repeatedly trotted out the false ‘corporate charter’ label, characterizing charter schools as profit seeking education models. San Francisco Chronicle Education Reporter Jill Tucker quickly set the record straight, noting the California legislature passed legislation last year (supported by CCSA!) banning for-profit charter schools in our state that was signed by then Gov. Jerry Brown.  “Often times, charter schools are a grassroots organization…opened by local non-profits, former teachers, and parents to meet a demand that they see,” Tucker added. 

Charter schools are “draining funds” from districts schools 

OH COME ON, ERIC: Myrna rightfully pointed out that it’s wrongheaded to scapegoat charter public schools for a district’s longstanding financial challenges. It’s a more complicated issue. State funding (or lack thereof), shifting demographics, and employee pensions are having a much larger impact on a district’s finances. Confronted with the nuances of the issue, by both Myrna and the show’s host, Heins made arguably his best statement during the discussion: “Yes, that’s all true. It’s never a simple answer.” 

“Lots of politics happen” during the charter school appeal process

OH COME ON, ERIC: He’s right, there are a lot of politics happening. But that’s not how we’d describe a process that’s giving families alternative pathways to speak up in support of schools that meet their child’s needs. Rather, it’s the CTA that’s largely chosen to shun collaboration and compromise to opt for a politics-before-kids approach to improving California’s public education system.

“CTA is not anti-charter.”

OH COME ON, ERIC:  CTA is promoting an extreme legislative package that ranges from denying charter public schools, no matter how academically successful, right to appeal to the county or state for renewal (AB 1505) to establishing a cap on charters statewide (AB 1506). The bills would cripple the potential of all California students to receive a quality public education. If that isn’t anti-charter, we don’t know what is.

“It’s not about limiting options.”

OH COME ON, ERIC: But the divisive legislative agenda CTA is promoting would do just that, especially for families that need better educational options most. Let’s be real, these bills collectively threaten the very existence of charter public schools in California.

As education continues to be a central focus in Sacramento, we hope leaders like Heins, who are an important voice at the policy table, will change their tune. We owe it to students, parents, teachers and education leaders to have a fact-based conversation and to be up-front about our intentions.

Photo Cred: Stephanie Lister /KQED