Like other safety drills in schools, earthquake safety is one that should seem apolitical and non-discriminatory. The goal of keeping children safe seems like it would be equally handled across charter schools and public schools. But in a recent report out of Los Angeles, it was discovered that a certain loophole in schools across California made some schools less safe than others.
California sees regular earthquakes strike through the state practically every second. Most aren’t felt, but even small tremors have become something of a norm for residents everywhere from San Diego to Sacramento, and especially in the Bay Area and Greater Los Angeles. In October, two 5.0-sized earthquakes hit in the San Francisco area on the same day. While this would be of major note in places like Indiana or New York, they’re second nature in California.
Legislation is in place in California for K-12 school construction to keep children safe while they are at school. The Field Act, which followed a devastating earthquake in Long Beach in 1933, was set up in response to more than 230 schools that were leveled or that suffered some kind of destruction, mandating rigorous oversight of the construction and development of every public school to ensure safety.
However, some charter schools in the state don’t necessarily have to comply with the Field Act, even though these schools have accepted millions in taxpayer money to rent their buildings. What this has brought to the conversation is the overall safety of the students inside these charter school buildings that may, in fact, be less safe than public school buildings.
In Southern California alone more than 200 charter campuses don’t have to comply with the Field Act, putting students and teachers in harm’s way. Representatives from the California Charter Schools Association countered by stating that the schools are safe places to learn and work, complying with the California Building Code, which includes many strict earthquake safety provisions that ensure the safety of charter school students.
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