The voice of California’s charter school movement

Let’s clear the air about charter schools and teacher credentialing

By California Charter Schools Association

In its current form, we know that AB 1505 is an extreme bill that makes it easier to close down high-performing charter public schools, harming the futures of California’s most vulnerable students. But in recent days, Sacramento politicians like Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell and the California Teachers Association have opened up a new assault on these quality schools over teacher credentialing and background checks.

While O’Donnell has changed his original provision in AB 1505 that every teacher at a charter public school must have a credential, he’s still misleading families about where charter public schools stand on this important issue. He wants Californians to believe that charter schools are universally opposed to teacher credentialing and are in a favor of a relaxed background check process. He’s also suggesting that requiring a credential makes it easier for schools to discipline teachers. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of how he’s wrong:

  • By state law, charter public school teachers in core subjects like math, English, science, or social studies, must have a credential. They maintain flexibility in non-core subjects to hire professionals who may have years, or even decades, of experience. O’Donnell wanted to rip that away.
  • Also, according to state law, charter schools are required to perform their own criminal background check on every employee they hire.
  • Even with the teacher credential requirement, the discipline system in our state is too slow and weak to be effective. The average teacher misconduct case takes 383 days, according the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. By contrast, non-unionized charter public schools can act more quickly in disciplining teachers who have engaged in misconduct.

What Assemblymember O’Donnnell’s credentialing/background check provision does is add another bad policy to an already bad bill. It would rip flexibility away from charter public schools and block passionate individuals who have thrived in their respective fields from stepping into the classroom and having an immediate impact on student learning.  

As our very own President and CEO Myrna Castrejón put it, “I wouldn’t want to be the one that tells Gov. Jerry Brown that he can’t teach a government class because he would otherwise have to go back to college.”


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