Keeping Educational Choices Alive in Calaveras County
Calaveras County Superintendent of Schools Scott Nanik
Calaveras county has a strong history of offering educational options to students and families. With the onset of COVID-19, schools had to adjust quickly to new models for learning. The goal of educational leaders in Calaveras is to ensure various educational opportunities that fit students and their families’ individual needs.
Two new bills currently in the California legislature threaten educational options for families. AB 1316 and SB 593 propose to change how Calaveras county families can access education. AB 1316 is an 80+page bill addressing audit and accounting standards, funding, independent study, contracts, attendance, teacher assignments, school calendars and oversight. SB 593 is a lighter bill addressing some of the same issues. Their intent is to eliminate legislative loopholes that some questionable charter schools have exploited for financial gain.
However, we believe that our students and families deserve to continue having the options of attending public school via traditional classroom, independent study or homeschooling.
Mountain Oaks Charter School, whose charter is administered by the Calaveras County Office of Education, has a 26-year history of serving students in Calaveras, Tuolumne and Amador counties. During the pandemic, many new families turned to Mountain Oaks as a proven solution for educating their students from home; Mountain Oaks enrolled 80 additional students without any additional funding from the state. The proposed legislation could eliminate their program as an option for the more than 450 students that they serve.
As Mountain Oaks Administrator Bill Redford explained, “Mountain Oaks Charter school operates under the same rules and requirements as all other public schools in Calaveras county and the state of California. This legislation, intended to support a return to campus for students who have been compelled to attend school virtually during a pandemic, will throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.”
I am concerned that our legislators are taking a one-size-fits-all approach to this complex situation. Many families need flexible options to ensure the success of their students. These options need to be protected and our legislators should use a more focused approach to prevent abuse and close legal loopholes.
For more information and to voice your concerns, please contact your local state legislators. Go to http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/ to find your local California Representative.