Of Charter Schools, Inconsistencies and Profiles in Courage

Someone who wishes to become the governor of California should form the habit of reading legislation before making pronouncements about it.

Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman has commissioned a series of wildly disingenuous 15-second, substance-free television commercials about her GOP opponent for governor, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.

Poizner, for his part, is engaged in a similarly vapid ad campaign, attempting to portray himself as the most “conservative” GOP candidate, a bold tax-cutter and rescuer of California “from liberal failure,” who would “require law enforcement to report illegal aliens who are arrested” and will “save billions by cutting taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal aliens.”

Nor has Poizner shown any reticence in compiling Whitman’s alleged crimes.

Among Whitman’s attacks is an ad in which Poizner is accused of siding with “liberal unions” and weakening Proposition 13.

What Whitman refers to is Proposition 39, a November 2000 ballot measure backed by, among others, the chair of her gubernatorial campaign, former Gov. Pete Wilson, and a fat slice of Silicon Valley executives.

The central provision of the initiative lowered the vote threshold needed to pass local school bonds from two-thirds to 55 percent. But it also guaranteed charter schools a piece of that bond action.

It’s likely Whitman wasn’t aware of this because of her multi-decade habit of not bothering to vote but that doesn’t seem to prevent her from criticizing Poizner for his support of Proposition 39, which, as part of his apparent steer-right-of-Meg strategy, Poizner now says he regrets.

For the record, he also recently switched his views on allowing state-funded abortions. Now he’s opposed. In a GOP primary? Go figure. Wonder what the two of them will believe in during the general election?

But back to Proposition 39.

To The Sacramento Bee on March 5, Mr. Profiles-in-Courage says this:

“I don’t support those provisions in Prop. 39 that make it easier to pass more debt and, at the time, just like Gov. (Pete) Wilson, I decided to bite my lip and support Prop. 39 because of the charter school provisions,” Poizner said.

“But now in looking back I would find other ways to help the charter school movement rather than agreeing to anything that makes it easier to pass more debt or to pass more taxes.”

Gosh, what a trooper.

Did he mention he contributed $200,000 to the “yes” on Proposition 39?

No need. Whitman campaign spokeswoman Sarah Pompei was more than happy to:

“The facts remain that he donated $200,000 in a blatant attempt to weaken Prop. 13 by lowering the vote threshold to increase taxes from two-thirds to 55 percent.”

Blatant is defined as “without any attempt at concealment.”

Not much in the world more blatant than measures appearing on ballots in statewide elections during which millions of Californians vote.

A cursory read of Proposition 39, which, just a shot in the dark here, hasn’t been done by at least one and probably both GOP candidates, finds this information contained in Section Six, which amends Section 47614 of the Education Code:

Public school facilities should be shared fairly among all public school pupils, including those in charter schools.

“Each school district shall make available, to each charter school operating in the school district, facilities sufficient for the charter school to accommodate all of the charter school’s in-district students in conditions reasonably equivalent to those in which the students would be accommodated if they were attending other public schools of the district.

“Facilities provided shall be contiguous, furnished, and equipped, and shall remain the property of the school district. The school district shall make reasonable efforts to provide the charter school with facilities near to where the charter school wishes to locate, and shall not move the charter school unnecessarily.

“The school district may charge the charter school a pro rata share (based on the ratio of space allocated by the school district to the charter school divided by the total space of the district) of those school district facilities costs which the school district pays for with unrestricted general fund revenues. The charter school shall not be otherwise charged for use of the facilities. No school district shall be required to use unrestricted general fund revenues to rent, buy, or lease facilities for charter school students.”

There’s more about average daily attendance projections and the like but what was written in Proposition 39 about charter schools guaranteed they could never be stiffed by school districts in which they operate. A major benefit to charter schools and a major change in state law and education policy.

That’s one reason why most of the millions spent in favor of Proposition 39 came from Silicon Valley charter school advocates such as venture capitalist John Doerr who, along with his wife, donated $6 million to the campaign.

Unions, for the edification of the Whitman campaign, spent almost nothing on the Proposition 39 campaign, their focus was defeating a school voucher initiative, Proposition 38.

Not to get in the way of a misleading and misinformed TV ad or anything.

Despite her widely advertised contempt for those, like Poizner, who supported Proposition 39, Whitman waxes quite poetic on her campaign website about her unquenchable love for charter schools.

Charter schools, Whitman says, are “public schools that accept more accountability for their results in return for more freedom to try new ideas.

“They are learning laboratories and give parents and students more choices to find the perfect fit for their educational needs.”

She pledges as governor to “promote the expansion of charter schools around the state, streamline the charter approval process for proven, successful charter school operators” and “support mandatory charter conversions for schools that rate an “F” for three years.”

Without the passage of Proposition 39, it would be far harder to “promote the expansion of charter schools” and “create more learning laboratories.”

Such curious – and presumably unintended — inconsistencies can be avoided by reading pieces of legislation in their entirety, as noted previously.

As to charter schools:

A wee bit late to the ballgame.


Filed under: Venting


  1. Shouldn’t this be posted in Angry Man? hehe 🙂

    Comment by Shady — 3.15.2010 @ 2:39 pm

  2. FANTASTIC post. Angry or not – makes no difference. Great job!

    Comment by Sandy Carey — 3.16.2010 @ 1:57 pm

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