Charter school families rally at Civic Center

Sean Pyles


Families and supporters of local charter schools gathered to send a message to Assemblymember Tony Thurmond at Richmond Civic Center on Friday.

The rally was organized by the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) to protest Assemblymember Thurmond’s vote in favor of Assembly Bill 787, which mandates that school boards assemble the board of directors for new charter schools starting in 2016.  

“We think this is a problem,” explains Shawn Brown from CCSA. “Charter schools are about creativity and innovation, and if you allow a school board to appoint the board of a charter, you’re going to end up with the same schools that the parents didn’t want.”

Assemblymember Thrumond did not return requests for comment on his support of the bill.

The rally was passionate, if brief and casual. Over four dozen supporters donning CCSA t-shirts gathered in front of City Hall to cheer and boast their signs, and individuals stood before the crowd to give short speeches one after another. The entire event was just half an hour.

Many supporters held signs demanding “Partnerships, NOT Politics!” They called for an end of legislators’ overly-politicized involvement in charter schools, yet the CCSA itself is a fervent force in Sacramento politics, even offering a “Legislative Advocacy Toolkit” for parents.

The parents, kids, and charter school supporters who attended the rally Friday stood as a visual reminder of the people power behind charter schools, but it’s unclear if state legislators were at all impacted. Assemblymember Thurmond wasn’t present, nor were any representatives from city government. If CCSA continues lobbying this issue, however, it may be more difficult to ignore.


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  • Don Gosney
    commented 2015-04-21 11:47:08 -0700
    The whole charter school issue is a passionate issue with a great many people with few people being neutral. Some people are strongly supportive of charter schools while others are equally against them.

    This has been elevated to the point where there are numerous bills before the state Assembly and Senate to regulate them. Many people demand that the government step in to rein them in while others demand that the government stay away from their right to educate their children in the way they feel best.

    It’s a tough call on what’s really best for our children.

    This well funded rally was meant to accomplish what? The California Charter Schools Association made sure that the 45 or so children in attendance had brand new blue T-Shirts to wear showing their support for an organization they had never heard of or cared that existed. Of course, the 18 or so parents—some of whom knew that CCSA existed—also had their shirts to wear. And there was plenty of free pizza for the kiddies.

    And what small child wouldn’t want to wave around a sign—no matter what it said on it. Several used their signs to wage fake sword fights while others jabbed them up and down in the faces of people standing nearby.

    Several adults spoke, too. What they spoke about was unknown to me because about 90% was in Spanish. This was, of course, the language spoken by the adults and children in attendance but for the non-Spanish speakers in attendance (maybe 3-4 of us), we were lost.

    Aside from Radio Free Richmond and Telemundo, I didn’t see any media to cover their event. We heard that they wanted to send a message to Assembymember Thurmond but there was no indication that he or his staff were in attendance.

    So what did this rally accomplish. For the most part, they were preaching to the choir and rallying the true believers.

    If they were trying to convince people outside of their core group that charter schools were the solution, they failed. First of all, if we can’t understand what’s being said we won’t be swayed.

    The whole charter school issue needs a frank and open discussion of the issue—not the sentiments or emotions. It’s hurting our kids right now because too much attention is being devoted to the fight and not the education. Too much of our public funds are being diverted.

    Rallies are fine for rallying the troops but is it really proper to use small children to fight our battles? Did any of these very small children have any idea what the issues were? If Fox News (the ones that seem to have little regard for propriety) they might have asked some of these kids the hard questions—like if they could read what was on the signs they held. We shouldn’t be taking advantage of these small children who have no say in their futures.
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