Capitol Alert AM Newsletter

Charter vs. traditional schools + California air quality + Housing disparities

Hear charter school supporters protest California charter school bills

Hundreds packed the California Capitol on April 10, 2019 in protest of a package of bills aimed at reforming, and restricting, charter schools in the California.
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Hundreds packed the California Capitol on April 10, 2019 in protest of a package of bills aimed at reforming, and restricting, charter schools in the California.

Good Thursday to you all! Quiet week, huh? Between vaccines, housing and use of force bills...who’s ready for the weekend?

Both the Senate and Assembly are in session at 9 a.m.


In the great, big debate over what education model best serves students — charter or public schools — Californians are half and half.

The Public Policy Institute of California released a report on Wednesday evening that detailed what adults and likely voters think about the state education system. The institute surveyed 1,512 Californians for the report.

Nearly half of adults, 49 percent, said they are in favor of charter schools, the publicly funded, privately run model that advocates say offers more education choice for parents and their kids.

Falling right behind, 46 percent responded in opposition to charter schools.

Interesting — Charter backing is higher among public school parents, with close to 60 percent saying they support the schools. Charters are technically public institutions, but staunch traditional school supporters often lambaste the alternative model for stripping funds from their entities, as noted in the survey: 64 percent of adults and 75 percent of public school parents expressed concern over the diversion of funds.

“Charter public schools get mixed reviews,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “Many Californians say it is important to have the option of a charter school, but there are concerns about the fiscal impacts on traditional public schools.”

Demographic breakdown — Charters earned approval from half of Latinos and whites surveyed; 43 percent of Asian Americans and 36 percent of African Americans offered a thumbs up for the model.

Why it’s important — There are three controversial charter bills moving through session. Assembly Bills 1505 , 1506 and 1507 would strictly limit charter growth in the state by placing a cap on the number of schools allowed in California, would grant districts authority to deny a charter application and would prohibit charters from operating outside of the boundaries of the agencies that authorize them

The survey also indicated that, after a torrent of school shootings in recent years, 70 percent of the Californians surveyed worry about a mass shooting happening at their local school.

Other numbers — More than half of likely voters said they approve of the way Gov. Gavin Newsom is handling the K-12 public education system. Most of them, 79 percent, identify as Democrats. The likely voters don’t have as much confidence in the Legislature, with slightly more than half, 52 percent, reporting that they disapprove of lawmakers’ education plans.


The American Lung Association released a dire report on the quality of air in cities across the country on Wednesday, and things don’t look great for certain parts of California.

A combination of factors including climate change and transportation pollution has overwhelmingly affected California cities, seven of which are on the list of 10 most ozone-polluted cities in the country. Los Angeles earned the top spot.

“California communities face too many unhealthy air days, and we know that these burdens hit our most vulnerable residents hardest,” said Will Barrett, director of clean advocacy with the American Lung Association in California. “We must confront the reality that climate change is making the job of cleaning our air much more difficult. We need our leaders to ensure all Californians benefit from sustainable development, zero emission transportation options and the transition away from fossil fuels to protect public health.”

As the state experiences a recurring wildfire threat, the report highlights a growing concern over how the pollution affects state residents. One doctor noted that children, seniors and low-income Californians face increased chances of asthma attacks, respiratory and cardiovascular harm and premature death.

You can research the air quality in your zip code here.


For your radar — Gov. Newsom has named a new State Transportation Agency leader, who will oversee several embattled departments including the Department of Motor Vehicles and High-Speed Rail Authority.

Hyundai executive David Kim will take over the job from Brian Annis, who in turn will become chief financial officer for high-speed rail. Both Kim and Annis will earn $209,900 a year in their new positions.

Annis is following his predecessor Brian Kelly, who, after serving as transportation secretary became high-speed rail’s chief executive. Kelly is still the chief executive at high-speed rail.

Newsom has promised to reform the DMV, which has struggled with voter registration and hours-long wait times for license renewals. He’s vowed to increase transparency for high-speed rail, a project that’s over budget and behind schedule.

Via Sophia Bollag



A new report out by the California Budget and Policy Center reiterates what Newsom and members of the Legislature are underscoring in their legislative efforts this session: California’s housing crisis disproportionately affects low-income renters and households.

The report notes that in 2017, more than half of renters paid 30 percent or more of their income to maintain housing, and more than a quarter paid at least half. The center highlights that although all California regions face housing issues, residents of color are especially affected.

Perfect timing — Two major housing bills are up in the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee today following the adjournment of session.

Assembly Bills 36 and 1482 would reform rent practices in California. AB 36 would reform the Costa Hawkins Act, which restricts rent control initiatives and allows local authorities to apply rent control to certain buildings. AB 1482 would impose a rent increase cap.


April 26 — Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-Marin County


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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.