State Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurmond appointed an 11-member task force to study the fiscal impact of charter schools on public schools.

He did so at the request of Governor Newsom.

Four members of the task force are part of the charter industry.

Thurmond is amazingly evenhanded. In the race for the office last fall, the charter industry outspent him 2-1 and smeared him with negative advertising.

Ten percent of the state’s students are in charter schools.

The task force should be sure to read University of Oregon Professor Gordon Lafer’s Study of the fiscal impact of charters on three districts, called “Breaking Point.”

In the two recent teachers’ strikes, in Los Angeles and Oakland, teachers called for a moratorium on new charters until such a study was completed. Governor Newsom has been noncommittal on that demand.

The charter sector has operated with minimal or no oversight. To see how bad things are, read “Charters and Consequences.” There are storefront charters where students meet their teacher only once every three weeks. There are charters with graduation rates under 10%. Charters are allowed to open wherever they want. Charters can appeal a district rejection to the county, then appeal the county rejection to the state, where they usually got a rubber stamp. Charters may be run like chain stores, without oversight, just to make money. Until Newsom signed a bill recently, there were no laws profiting conflicts of interest or nepotism. The charter industry vigorously opposed any regulation or accountability.

One charter executive called the ban on conflicts and nepotism a “scorched earth policy.”