Let’s Embrace School Choice — Not Destroy It

By Neil McChesney

Public charter schools are schools of choice allowing parents to determine what’s in the best interest of their child. Throughout California, parents and community members are leading the effort to recognize school choice as an important factor in transforming the future of our public education system.
Evidence suggests that individual communities have never been more supportive of charter schools based on growth in enrollment, waiting list numbers, and polling data. The increase in support has occurred during a period when charter schools have been held more accountable than traditional public schools and have strengthened their performance, especially with historically underserved students.

Earlier this summer, a group of educators and passionate parents worked tirelessly with the Contra Costa County Board of Education (CCCOE) to establish a new alternative for East Bay students – the Contra Costa School of Performing Arts (SPA).

We are excited to begin our 2016-17 school year and are rapidly approaching our enrollment goal of 300 students. The SPA team is grateful that parents recognized the value of choosing a distinguished, pre-professional experience in performing arts within a college and career preparatory setting for their students.

Unfortunately, some in our community — with a certain political agenda to destroy the school choice movement — are seeking to derail our efforts.  Earlier this month, SPA was informed that the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) filed a lawsuit against CCCOE over their decision to approve our charter petition.

Although this news is disappointing, anti-charter politics of this kind are unfortunately not uncommon. The District’s complaint is completely meritless and similar challenges have been dismissed by the courts. And, we fully expect the same result in this case.

There’s no argument that MDUSD is extremely hostile to charter schools. Since the California Charter Schools Act was signed into law in 1992, MDUSD has only authorized one school – Eagle Peak Montessori in 2000. Over the years, MDUSD has routinely and systematically squashed parent choice in their district and outlying areas. Despite having a mandate to do what’s in the best interests of students, MDUSD continues to bully and intimidate in order to continue its monopoly.

I want to ensure our school community of SPA’s commitment to bring the best education option for performing arts to the Concord region.  We have complied with all requirements as outlined by State law and SPA will remain involved and vigilant protecting the rights of our new students.  So at a time when school choice is being embraced throughout California, it’s rather unbecoming of those local education bureaucrats who seek to destroy what’s best for our students.