The story of the task force charged with reviewing the charter law and the fiscal impact of charters on public schools continues to evolve, and not in a good way.

Of the 11 members of the task force appointed by Tony Thurmond, in consultation with Governor Gavin Newsom, at least six are directly connected to the charter industry.

How can this be possible when the charter industry supported former Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa against Gavin Newsom, and when the charter industry spent millions to defeat Tony Thurmond, outspending his supporters by a margin of 2-1?

Here is the task force with new information about one member, the superintendent of El Dorado County:


The task force members are:


  • Cristina de Jesus, president and chief executive officer, Green Dot Public Schools California (charter chain);
  • Dolores Duran, California School Employees Association;
  • Margaret Fortune, California Charter Schools Association board chair; Fortune School of Education, president & CEO;
  • Lester Garcia, political director, SEIU Local 99 (Local 99 took $100,000 from Eli Broad to oppose Jackie Goldberg, a critic of charters);
  • Alia Griffing, political director, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 57;
  • Beth Hunkapiller, educator and administrator, Aspire Public Schools (charter chain);
  • Erika Jones, board of directors, California Teachers Association;
  • Ed Manansala, superintendent, El Dorado County; board president, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association; the El Dorado County Office set up a Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) specifically to service students with disabilities in charter schools and wooed charter students away from their local districts; El Dorado supposedly offers services to disabled students enrolled in charter schools who live hundreds of miles away;  
  • Cindy Marten,  superintendent, San Diego Unified School District;
  • Gina Plate, vice president of special education, California Charter Schools Association (charter lobby);
  • Edgar Zazueta, senior director, policy & governmental relations, Association of California School Administrators (ACSA endorsed Marshall Tuck against Tony Thurmond). 


By my count, six members of the 11-member panel are directly connected to the charter industry, including two from the lobbying organization CCSA. That’s a majority.

As a supporter of public schools, I supported Tony Thurmond as best I could on this blog. I personally contributed to his campaign. I thought that his election and the election of Gavin Newsom meant that charter schools in California would be held to the same standards of academic, financial, and ethical accountability as public schools; I hoped that the state would stop stacking the deck in favor of charters. I hoped that necessary reforms would eliminate shady operators and grifters and put a halt to the unchecked  proliferation of unstable, unsound charter schools.

Now, I am not so sure.

The fox is in charge of the henhouse.

If you are as outraged as I am, if you feel you have been had, please contact Superintendent Tony Thurmond.

Only 10% of the students in the state of California attend charter schools.

Why do their representatives get to police themselves?

Why do their representatives get to decide whether they are hurting the public schools that most students attend?

Why does the charter industry get to decide whether it is okay for them to drain funds and impose budget cuts on public schools?