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Senate OKs Curbs on Charter Schools That Teach Online

July 09, 1999| From Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — A bill imposing restrictions on charter schools that teach students at home or by computer was sent Thursday to Gov. Gray Davis.

The Senate approved the Assembly-passed measure by Sen. Patrick Johnston (D-Stockton) on a 22-15 vote.

Supporters of the bill said restrictions are needed to curb abuses such as charter schools serving students hundreds of miles away.

"If we don't deal with some of the problems that are beginning to emerge, people will lose faith in the charter school movement," said Sen. Dede Alpert (D-Coronado).

Republicans who opposed the bill said it will stifle the creativity that charter schools were designed to bring to education and put some of the schools out of business.

"This is the first step in strangling a good experiment in its infancy," said Sen. Richard Mountjoy (R-Arcadia).

The bill is part of the state budget package, which contains $25 million to be used by the state to develop a formula for funding future charter schools.

The schools are intended to be innovative institutions created by parents, teachers or community groups free of normal state education regulations.

The measure would require charter schools to give students the same amount of hourly instruction each academic year as regular public schools, to maintain student attendance records and to give their students the statewide achievement test or lose funding.

It would also require charter schools to serve students no farther away than an adjacent county.

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