SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Charter Schools Association will conclude Women’s History Month with a special episode of the CharterNation Podcast featuring a one-on-one interview with Dr. Shirley N. Weber, California’s Secretary of State and longtime public education advocate.
Dr. Weber’s interview is part of the podcast’s Changemakers interview series where CCSA President and CEO Myrna Castrejón engages in meaningful, in-depth conversations with influential public school leaders, lawmakers and advocates – across the ideological and political spectrum – about high-priority issues in K-12 public education.
Dr. Weber is featured for this Women’s History Month episode of theCharterNation Podcast because the incredible achievement she has made in her political career and her enduring support of California’s public education system, with a strong emphasis on equity and improving outcomes for students of color.
The following are excerpts from the wide ranging interview about what drove Dr. Weber to public service and how she views today’s public education climate.
Reflecting on the hypocritical nature of policymakers on charter policy issues during her time in the Assembly:
I sat in the Assembly, and I’d watch people vote on things that were detrimental to charters that they would never vote on for public schools, that’s Number 1. But in addition to that, they themselves had their children in charter schools. And some would tell me, ‘I would never put my kid in a public school in my neighborhood,’ especially those who are representing Black and Latino kids and communities. They knew the schools were failing and they were not going to invest their kids in those schools. But then you would basically trap other kids in that school who didn’t have the same resources or the same education that you had. I consider that to be just hypocritical and disingenuous. My opinion on people began to drop significantly, particularly around education. Because I value education and I think we should be doing much more than what we are.
On California’s struggles with K-12 public education:
We have the best postsecondary education in the world, period, bar none. And yet we can’t figure out how to teach kids how to reach and to do math, and to think critically? How crazy can this be? And that to me is my ongoing angst about California. With all of its resources, the most fundamental thing in the world, it can’t now seem to get beyond because it allows adults to get in the way of the success of children.
On opposition to California’s public charter schools:
They’ll attack those institutions that are successful. And yet, they’ll do that in the public policy sense. But on the parental sense, it is not stopping parents at all. You’re finding more and more parents are looking at this as an option. Why? Because the public school is not answering the call. Not taking advantage of what we have to make everybody better and greater.
Reflecting on the beginning of the charter school movement:
All of a sudden charters became an example of what could possibly be, and it was interesting that folks began to attack charters and want to limit them. Because then it became a question, not about the education of kids, but by the employment of adults. And I used to say all the time at the school board, you know what, the school district is not an employment agency, we’re an educational institution. And we evaluate ourselves based on the education we give to kids. How well are our kids doing? What options are available to them? That’s what we evaluate ourselves on. Not the fact that we’ve been able to employ everyone and keep everyone employed. That’s a byproduct of our real goal in life which is to really provide the high quality of education that kids need.
The CharterNation Podcast is a 25-30min highly-produced monthly program with episodes released on the second Thursday of every month. It’s the only podcast dedicated to news, analysis, and stories from California’s charter public school movement. The program is hosted by Ana Tintocalis, a former K-12 education reporter and Senior Director of Media Relations and Editorial Content Strategy for CCSA. She brings her expertise in education policy and storytelling to increase the visibility and understanding of charter public schools in California which is often overlooked by the mainstream media.
The CharterNation Podcast available on all podcast platforms or you can tune-in by going to www.ccsa.org.
About the California Charter Schools Association
The vision of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) is to build great public schools of joy and rigor that prepare all California students for success in college, career, community, and life. The mission of CCSA is to meet parent, educator, and community need for great public school options by supporting and advocating for high quality non-profit charter schools and sharing their success throughout California’s public schools. Learn more.