Okay, Happy NewYear and best wishes for everyone's health, safety and happiness
There's work to be done. First up, charter schools. I am so unhappy to be having to waste my time on this issue but if not, well then we get to see one more layer of bureaucracy at the state level and more dollars exiting our own district. (As if we have the money for either thing to happen without a concrete belief that we will get better academic outcomes.)
Dora Taylor, over at Seattle Education, has written up a very good overview of what is early-state charter law as put forth by LEV. Read it for your own education on what is being put forth as reasoning for charter law in Washington State.
(Note: the LEV summary says "In recent years, the research on charter school effectiveness has grown, enabling us to identify effective providers and practices through data. The data show that, if properly managed, charters are an effective alternative for students in chronically under-performing schools." One, don't make the mistake of thinking that says that the effectiveness of charter schools has grown, it's the RESEARCH on it. One thing isn't the other. And that second sentence is quite the tall order - finding effective providers, with proper management and using best practices. Isn't that a definition for ANY good school?)
I may end up on the panel discussion for charter schools that the PTSA is having on January 17th. My disappointment in the way it is being presented is that it appears to be a debate rather than an informational forum. The minute you present the issue as pro/con, I think it becomes a debate. My contention is that most parents/voters do NOT know enough about charters to take a side. I had made this point several times to Heidi Bennett who is organizing this event when she approached me to be on the panel. I am very worried that there will be a lot of misinformation/half-truths passed around.
I am going to get together a weekly datapoint about charters, put it up and post a way for all of you to pass it onto your legislators. They, too, probably need some education. As well, we should pass these points onto the Mayor and City Council and hope they won't be coming out for charters schools in Seattle without fully understanding the issue.
I'm not saying that elected officials are dumb or uneducated but for many of them, they are only as good on an issue as the white paper they are handed.
This is going to be a tough issue to fight as there are several items favoring passage. One, the "all the other kids are doing it" syndrome wherein a state not following the rest of the states looks out-of-step.
Two, "we need it to be in favor with the feds." No, we need to have a great education system to be in favor with the feds. If Arne Duncan is going to slight our state over charters, then so be it.
Three, as usual, there will be many high-powered, big moneyed interests who want this law. Keep in mind, with charters THERE IS MONEY TO BE MADE. I don't think that LEV or PTSA or any other educational entity wants charters because of this point but that doesn't matter because there is a whole infrastructure of groups that do. Charter management organizations (CMOs), facilities management, TFA, whoever makes money from education, that's who wants in on this law.
And then there are the big players like the Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation.
I have no doubt that come January 9th when the state legislature comes back into session, that many charter lobbyists will be there. We can't all be there but we can inundate our legislators with weekly calls and messages. That is very powerful because they will know you are a Washington State voter. All the outside lobbyists in the world do not have that powerful influence.
Also, the more they hear from public school parents the better. And, if you disagree with the PTSA's stand/advocacy, you will muddy the waters for the PTSA's lobbying efforts because the legislators are going to get mixed messages and have to wonder if PTSA really does represent public school parents.
I have two more pieces to my charter series - the Landscape Today and my own view (which will likely come as no surprise to anyone but I have tried my best to keep the informational sections neutral). I will put up a separate area link for the whole series so you can let your friends or parents or neighbors know about charters so they, too, can make an informed choice.
I will gently point out that it is not the Washington State PTSA putting out this information. In fact, the charter school white paper at the Washington State PTSA's website has several incorrect and/or misleading statements. Ditto for LEV. It is this blog.
If PTSA and LEV and Stand for Children really cared about making sure this issue was clearly laid out for parents and the public, they would have done so. That they have not means they care more about winning than making sure we pass legislation based on facts.