Capitol Alert

Charter school conference + Small businesses and health care + New voters

The ABCs of charter schools

Charter schools are one option in the growing "school choice" movement. Funded by taxpayer money, these schools are growing nationally, though some states have yet to pass related laws. Find out what sets them apart from traditional public and pri
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Charter schools are one option in the growing "school choice" movement. Funded by taxpayer money, these schools are growing nationally, though some states have yet to pass related laws. Find out what sets them apart from traditional public and pri


Thousands of charter school teachers, leaders and advocates are descending on the Capitol today through Thursday for the 26th annual California Charter Schools Conference.

The three-day event includes presentations by notable education leaders like former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who served in President Barack Obama’s cabinet, and Teach Like a Champion author Doug Lemov.

More than 6,000 people are expected to attend the conference’s 3 p.m. rally at the Capitol on Wednesday to ask the Legislature to fully fund networks and to support proposals that advance charter opportunities.

Myrna Castrejón, the new president and chief executive officer of the California Charter Schools Association, said the conference comes at “an interesting moment” amid “aggressive” legislative efforts in the Capitol that could stymie growth of charter schools.

Catch up: Gov. Gavin Newsom, a longtime ally of teachers’ unions, signed a bill last week that now requires more operational transparency from charters.

It’s likely to be just the start of this session’s efforts to crackdown on the publicly funded, independently run schools. There’s a group of four bills — Assembly Bills 1505, 1506, 1507 and 1508 — that would make it easier to close certain schools and prevent more from opening.

“Our conferences are always known as incredibly energetic,” Castrejón said, continuing that the annual event is a space for parents, teachers, students and advocates to “celebrate the uniqueness of our movement.”

“We are going to engage our 6,000 advocates in town to make sure that our legislators know what it will look like if they voted for those bills and who these bills hurt and at what cost,” Castrejón added.

The association will also unveil its own legislative package that aims to support the education of African American and special education students in California, Castrejón said.

The conference is scheduled to take place at the Sacramento Convention Center.


Small businesses and employee benefits? Not the best of friends.

Providing health care options for employees can be an expensive undertaking for companies with limited resources. But in a new poll released today by the left-leaning advocacy group Small Business Majority, more than half of 300 owners of small California businesses said they’d support expanding access to and lowering the cost of health care in the state.

According to Brian Pifer, who oversees Small Business Majority’s polling, the numbers help dismantle the narrative that small business owners are opppose the Affordable Care Act and large government.

“They’re pragmatic and they want solutions,” Pifer said. “Particularly to the health care access problem.”

Nearly 75 percent of the businesses support creating additional state subsidies for families and seven in 10 businesses agreed that all individuals should be required to have health insurance.

An overwhelming majority of respondents approves of several key elements to the ACA, including the regulation that bans insurance carriers from denying coverage to patients with preexisting conditions.

Respondents also favored covering maternity and reproductive health services, and allowing dependents to stay covered up to age 26.

The poll surveyed a random sample of people, most of whom are micro-employers adding a few employees per year. Almost half of the business owners surveyed reported an annual revenue of less than $100,000.

Speaking of health care

Hundreds of workers are organizing a rally today at the Ronald M. George State Office Building in San Francisco. Janitors, teachers, nurses, hotel housekeepers, medical assistants and construction workers are protesting the rising health care costs and are scheduled to convene at 3 p.m.


What would be the first thing that a secretary of state would want 1,000 new citizens to do? Why, register to vote, of course!

Today Secretary of State Alex Padilla is delivering a keynote speech this morning during a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization ceremony in Fresno to do just that. Padilla is expected to speak about his own story as the son of Mexican immigrants who became naturalized citizens, and will highlight the importance of civic participation and voting.

The ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Fresno Convention Center.

For your radar: A new report out of State Controller Betty T. Yee’s shows that California’s total revenues fell short of the governor’s 2019-2020 budget projections in February by $1.34 billion, or 19.5 percent. Those numbers trail also trail behind the 2018-2019 budget by more than $2 billion, or close to 27 percent.

But here’s a gentle reminder that the numbers so far don’t indicate financial doomsday. Although it’s the second straight month that revenue has not met expectations, we have to wait until April, the height of tax season, to accurately measure California’s cash flow.


Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield

Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale


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Hannah Wiley joined The Bee as a legislative reporter in 2019. She produces the morning newsletter for Capitol Alert and previously reported on immigration, education and criminal justice. She’s a Chicago-area native and a graduate of Saint Louis University and Northwestern.