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December 7, 2016

3 min

Mark Holley

The Fight For Funding: K-12 Students Caught In The Middle

On October 17, 2016, the California Third District Court of Appeal released a decision (reversing a previous decision) that makes many non-classroom-based charter school resource centers located outside the boundaries of the authorizing school district illegal (Anderson Union High School District v. Shasta Secondary Home School, Case No. C07849). This decision was in response to ongoing litigation between a school district and charter school in Shasta County, CA, and could have a devastating effect on school choice and particularly blended and hybrid learning in California.

This is yet another example of the ongoing battle for school choice in California, with students and families caught in the middle. Some school districts, such as Method’s authorizers, are good examples of school district/charter school cooperation in ensuring California families have a choice in where to send their children.

There are many other examples of forward-thinking school districts that put the needs of students and families first. Unfortunately, some school districts continue to lobby state legislators and litigate in an attempt to preserve market share and legacy revenue sources they feel entitled to based on geography and educational dogma.

The legal action taken by some school districts against charter schools is especially troubling because charter schools are schools of choice, and taking legal action in an attempt to shut them down is really just taking legal action against families. It's akin to saying "Dear Parent: we know what's better for your child more than you do."

And I'm no stranger to the fiscal pressures faced by school districts. I worked in the business department of a medium-sized school district for 14 years. The Great Recession impacted our revenues tremendously, but charter schools were eating into our enrollment every year, causing even more budgetary erosion. We had a few choices: go after the charter schools in the courts, lobby the state legislature to make it harder for charter schools to operate (or attempt to force them into closure), or build a better product that families chose over charter schools.

We chose the last option. We listened to our customers. We built a better product. In fact, in addition to strengthening our core product (traditional education), we launched three separate online and hybrid schools that became not only the fastest growing schools in the school district, but the state as well. I'm grateful I worked with forward-thinking people who put families first, and I'm grateful I work with people with similar ideals at Method Schools today.

Here in California, some charter school learning centers could be in jeopardy of closing in coming years due to the surprising reversal by the Third District Court of Appeal. It's an assault on school choice, on families, and on students. It's robbing our economic future in order to pay last respects to a system that just doesn't work for everyone. It never has and it never will. That's what makes school choice so critical.

Method is built on a foundation of small class sizes enabled through an innovative rotational learning model, project based learning, and engaging online curriculum that adapts to individual student needs and pacing. Method is a safe small school setting, and on average our students gain 1.3 years of academic growth per school year. Yet, in spite of the obvious benefits to California families and the overall K-12 ecosystem, we're required to spend substantial amounts of time and resources fighting for something that's already been proven to work and has been previously approved as a legal education option for families.

We appreciate all those who continue to champion the cause of school choice for California families, particularly Method families, the Method Board of Directors, and Method’s authorizers, Acton Agua Dulce Unified School District and Dehesa Elementary School District. We look forward to working with all as we fight for California students and families, and we’ll continue to update the Method Schools community as more information becomes available.


Resistance to change harms students. Click below for more:

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