California’s under-performing schools highlight need for school choice


California’s K-12 students have some of the lowest standardized test scores in the nation.  Further, the performance gap separating white students from their black and Hispanic classmates is larger in California than it is nationwide.  California’s children are suffering, but what can we do about it?

School choice would improve California’s public education system and narrow the racial performance gap.  As one report shows, black students perform better in charter schools than in traditional public schools:

As the studies and stories in this issue brief indicate, public charter schools are making a positive impact on Black students. If we are truly committed to closing the learning gap in America, we must pay more attention to these findings and re-double our commitment to making these public school options available to more students across the country.

This is why Virginia Walden Ford, a civil rights pioneer who fought to eliminate racial segregation in public schools, said: “School choice is the civil rights battle of the 21st century.”

Charter schools are secular and tuition-free and they out-perform traditional public schools.  They provide hope for families, especially ones who are financially unable to pull their children out of failing schools and send them to private schools.

Not surprisingly, the popularity of charter schools in California has soared in recent years.  Because there aren’t enough charter schools to fill the demand, more than 70,000 students in California were placed on charter school waiting lists.  That especially has been a problem in Los Angeles, where huge numbers of students are trying to switch from traditional public schools to charter schools.

Unfortunately, there have been efforts by California school districts to thwart the success of charter schools.  So, Pacific Legal Foundation has stepped in to protect school choice in two very important cases.  If a court incorrectly decides either of those cases, school districts would be free to ignore Proposition 39, the voter-enacted state constitutional amendment that requires school districts to equally treat traditional public schools and charter schools.