The powerful California Charter School Association collected enough votes to defeat AB 1478, an effort to establish accountability and transparency for charters, introduced by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, a Democrat from Los Angeles.

Here is the proposed legislation. It called for transparency and accountability and prohibited conflicts of interest. What a radical proposal! Imagine charter schools holding open meetings, making their records public, and prohibited from financial self-dealing with related companies owned by relatives or yourself! Just like real public schools. But no, the charter industry demands the freedom to use public money as they wish, behind closed doors. And they reward Assembly members to let them do it. After all, freedom from oversight is the civil rights issue of our time!

Charter schools in California take public money but evade any public responsibility. If you want to know how bad things are, read this.

The California Charter School Association reached into its deep pockets to block any oversight for the charter sector, which prefers to take public money without accountability or transparency. CCSA insists that charter schools should be allowed to do what they want, without open meetings or open records. The law would have prohibited conflicts of interest, and the CCSA wouldn’t stand for that.

The CCSA said they defeated the proposal by a “historic margin,” which was untrue. The vote was close. The numbers of yes, no, and abstain were nearly equal. Abstain counts as a no.

Here is the vote:

27 members of the Assembly voted for charter accountability; 26 members voted against charter accountability; 24 members abstained. And they have the chutzpah to call that a “historic margin”?

Those who voted for charter accountability: Ayes: Bonta, Calderon, Carrillo, Chau, Chiu, Chu, Frazier, Cristina Garcia, Gloria, Gonzalez Fletcher, Jones-Sawyer, Kalra, McCarty, Medina, Mullin, Nazarian, O’Donnell, Quirk, Quirk-Silva, Reyes, Rodriguez, Santiago, Mark Stone, Thurmond, Ting, Wood, Rendon

Those who opposed charter accountability: Noes: Acosta, Travis Allen, Baker, Bigelow, Brough, Chávez, Chen, Choi, Cunningham, Dahle, Flora, Fong, Gallagher, Harper, Kiley, Lackey, Levine, Maienschein, Mathis, Mayes, Melendez, Obernolte, Patterson, Steinorth, Voepel, Waldron

Abstentions: No Votes Recorded: Aguiar-Curry, Arambula, Berman, Bloom, Burke, Caballero, Cervantes, Cooley, Cooper, Daly, Eggman, Friedman, Eduardo Garcia, Gipson, Gray, Grayson, Holden, Irwin, Limón, Low, Muratsuchi, Rubio, Salas, Weber

If you live in California, and your legislator voted no or abstained, call your legislator and ask why he or she refused to hold charter schools accountable for use of public funds. Ask how much money the CCSA gave them. Start a campaign to buy back their vote for public schools.

One thing this vote makes crystal clear: Charter Schools in California are not public schools. Charter schools fight accountability, even the most minimal kind. They fight transparency. They don’t hold open meetings. They want the right to engage in financial conflicts of interest.

They don’t root out out fraud. They hide it and protect it.

Charter schools are private schools that make up their own rules. They are not public schools. Public schools have open meetings and open records. Public schools are not allowed to engage in self-dealing and conflicts of interest.

Public schools answer to the public, not campaign contributors.