The below television ad promises “more money in the classroom, more charter schools, a chance for change” if Meg Whitman is elected governor of California.
The ad suggests that Whitman’s Democratic opponent, Jerry Brown, wouldn’t support the expansion of independently run charter schools — or school reform, in general — because his campaign has been backed by the California Teachers Association.
What it doesn’t mention is that Brown opened two charter schools while he was Oakland’s mayor — the Oakland Military Institute and the Oakland School for the Arts — a fact he has often touted in his campaign.
Betty Olson-Jones, president of the Oakland teachers union, is no Whitman supporter. But she isn’t singing Brown’s praises, either. In fact, the Oakland Education Association, which is known to weigh in on state elections, chose not to make an endorsement for the governor’s race.
“I’ve told Jerry Brown personally that I have some real issues with some of his policies, particularly with charter schools,” said Olson-Jones, who opposes charters. “He definitely has embraced charter schools.”
Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci reported last year that Brown had raised nearly $10 million for the two schools since 2006. (Marinucci’s story also noted — as the East Bay Express and the Sacramento Bee have, more recently — the schools’ middling test scores, despite the extra cash. OSA scored a 756 out of a possible 1,000 points on the Academic Performance Index this year, and OMI scored a 728. They scored higher than any of the non-charter schools, but are still shy of the state target of 800.)
That’s not to say that Whitman and Brown line up on the issue. Charter schools seem to be front and center in Whitman’s education platform, while Brown has said he doesn’t see the mass expansion of charter schools as the solution to public education’s ills.
Here’s what Brown has to say about charters in his education plan:
From my experience in starting and running these schools, I have gained first-hand experience in how difficult it is to enable all students to be ready for college and careers. Student outcomes are a complex interaction of student characteristics, teacher competence, instructional materials, and parental support. Any reforms and state educational policies must take into account this complexity and refrain from oversimplifying the problems and solutions.
An Oakland visit: Meg Whitman told the Twittersphere that she visited the Jefferson elementary school campus today in East Oakland, home of Learning Without Limits and Global Family (which aren’t charters, in case you were wondering).
Was anyone there?