Charter accountability package intact despite killing of Simitian bill

The California Charter Schools Association announced in July it had reached a landmark accord with Democrats on a comprehensive reform plan that would impose on charters new academic accountability measures as well as conflict of interest rules.

Although one of the bills in that package failed to win passage out of a key committee last week, the basic proposal is still intact and the association is pushing it with the hope of support from Gov. Jerry Brown.

The bill that died was SB 645 by state Sen. Joe Simitian, which had identical academic accountability provisions as one that is still pending before lawmakers, AB 440.

The key reason for its demise is that SB 645 also added costs by expanding access to the charter school facilities grant in an effort to bring more money to low income communities - a cost estimated at close to $10 million annually.

The association says they are pressing on with the remaining two bills by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica.

AB 440 would require that charter schools seek an "academic determination" by the California State Board of Education before obtaining a renewal by their local authorizer if they failed to meet one of several academic benchmarks.

Those benchmarks are scoring 700 on the API, growing by 50 or more points on the API over three years, attaining a decile 6 or above for demographically similar schools, or being eligible for the Alternative Schools Accountability Model.

AB 440 also requires charter authorizers to consider whether a charter petitioner will serve a student demographic that is similar to the district, the community, or the specified population in the charter.

A second bill in the package, AB 360, would impose new open meeting requirements on charters and hold them to a number of conflict of interest requirements that school districts must already follow - among them the California Public Records Act and the Political Reform Act, which requires board members to file statements of financial interest.

Here are other important K-12 bills that passed fiscal committees in the Senate and Assembly:

SB 547 (Steinberg) - EQI - Would replace the Academic Performance Index with a new assessment system called the Education Quality Index that would measure schools by a host of factors related to college and career readiness and graduation rates. The bill aims to implement the change with the 2013-14 school year.

SB 827 (Lowenthal) - Would require the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to form a committee to make recommendations about CALPADS to the governor, California State Board of Education, and the Legislature.

SB 140 (Lowenthal) - Would require the state to develop and adopt a list of supplemental instructional materials that are aligned to common core and authorize voluntary adoption by school boards. Under the impression that legislative authority is not required, the California Department of Education has already advanced this process.

AB 1330 (Furutani) - Career Tech - Would allow career technical education as an alternative to the high school graduation requirement for electives in visual or performing arts or foreign language.

AB 165 (Lara) - K-12 pupil fees - Officially codifies in statute the constitutional ban on pupil fees. The bill also establishes new notice requirements, as well as complaint and enforcement procedures related to pupil fees.AB 250 (Brownley) - Common Core - Establishes a process for the full implementation of the common core academic content standards through the development of curricular frameworks, instructional materials, and professional development aligned with the common core standards. This bill extends the operative date of the existing standardized assessments by one year - until July 1, 2014. AB 202 (Brownley) - Reimbursable state mandates - Makes various changes to the state's process for determining and reimbursing educational mandates. AB 203 (Brownley) - Parent Trigger - Specifies and expands requirements in several areas of the so-called Parent Empowerment Act, including content and signature requirements for petitions, petition review procedures, and meeting requirements.