Do charter schools deserve a piece of the pie?

pie5.jpgIf you plan to tell the Oakland school board to share future parcel tax revenues with the city’s 33 charter schools, prepare to be rebuffed in the strongest of terms.

The charter school contingent who tried that tactic at last night’s board meeting ended up on the receiving end of an anti-charter tirade. The charter leaders were even treated to some Halloween-inspired metaphors after announcing they wouldn’t support Oakland’s parcel tax campaign unless their schools were included.

“Dracula blood-suckers,” was the one chosen by Jim Mordecai, a retired teacher and regular board meeting attendee (and blog commenter).

Charters are public schools, and more than one in six of Oakland’s public school children attend one. On the other hand, as board member Kerry Hamill pointed out, they don’t have district overhead costs — not to mention a massive debt — eating away at classroom expenses. And sharing the funding now would amount to a cut in the district schools’ funding.

In your opinion, should charters be included in future district fundraising measures? How are the politics between charter and non-charter schools affecting the kids in both systems?

photo courtesy of cybertaur1’s Web site at flickr.com.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • david

    All Oakland students should be entitled to this funding. Regardless of the politics, not allowing charters to receive similar funding hurts the students of Oakland. Parents and students have a choice when it comes to their education in Oakland. They should not be penalized for making that important choice. Charter schools are PUBLIC schools too.

  • Jim Mordecai


    How come charter schools in Oakland are not raising the thousands of dollars to put their own parcel tax issue on the ballot? In what way is the OUSD better equipped to do for charter schools that they cannot do for themselves? Why do you feel the charter schools are inferior to OUSD in this area?

  • Debora

    I could see giving the Charter schools their “fair share” of the money as long as the same rules, regulations and accountabilities apply to all funds regardless of type of school. However, it is my belief that the Charter schools do not want to adhere to the same accountability process.

    So, can we hear from a Charter School representative? How do Charter Schools account fro the funds and can they be traced directly back to the sources required? Is there an audit process in place to guarantee, or at the very least provide accountability for all funds?

  • Bruce

    This is a case of charter schools wanting to have their pie and to eat it, too. The deal they get is that in exchange for the independence they get state revenue based on a certain formula. Are they offering to give up some of that independence in return for some of the parcel tax money they are demanding? In my mind, they either want the independence or they don’t.The District will be required to provide the taxpayers a full accounting of the spending of the parcel tax money to show that it was in accordance with the terms of the ballot measure. The additional oversight that would be needed if charter schools received some of the parcel tax funds would only serve to take away funds from the stated aims of the ballot measure.

    I’m not dogmatically opposed to charter schools, but it does bother me that the only time they are willing to be at all associated with “public schools” is when they are grabbing at cash from the trough of public funding. All this really just goes to show that whether you are a public school, charter school or any other school that relies on public funding, there just aren’t enough dollars going into public education.

  • Michael

    Charter schools ARE public schools. They are subject to public scrutiny, financial audit, and must operate under the Ed. Code. They receive public funding and serve Oakland students free of charge.
    Why should they not benefit from a public decision to invest in education?

  • Jim Mordecai


    A difference between public charter schools and the public schools is that charter schools
    are afraid to directly ask the voter for support.

    Why don’t the 32 public charter schools in Oakland put their own parcel tax on the ballot instead of lobbying to ride the coat-tails of the Oakland Public Schools’ parcel tax?

    My guess is that Oakland property owners would reject a charter school ballot measure and the supporters of charter schools fear going directly to the voters.

    After all, the voters of Oakland, or any California voter, was never were given a chance to vote the charter schools experiment up or down, although the taxpayers’ money was involved. In the 90s charter schools were created by a State legislature responsive to the charter school lobby, but the taxpayers were not included in the decision.

    The charter school lobby has been unrelenting in seeking limited public education dollars for its members. But, the charter school growth has been financed by a stealth redirection of public school financing. The taxpayers’ money for public schools is taken from the public school system to fund the charter schools. This robbing Peter to pay Paul public policy has hammered the budget of the Oakland Public Schools. Only a curbing of the charter school lobby’s appetite for the public school dollar will protect public education from future economic crisis. A halt to the growth of charter schools in Oakland will allow the budget of the Oakland Public the opportunity to recover. But, the charter school lobby hass creatively found a new means of diverting the education dollar from the Oakland Public School budget.

    Survival of the Oakland Public Schools is threatened by the growth of charter schools, and the budget depleting demand of the charter school lobby that the OUSD’s parcel tax include its Oakland members.

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