Thursday, January 12, 2012

Holes Big Enough to Drive a Mack Truck Through This Bill

I started reading the charter school bill.  Boy, that didn't take long to find some real issues.  I'm only at page 23 of the 45 page bill and there is a lot to worry over.  (So I'm not done but understand that many of the "strict charter law" items that some at this blog want, aren't found in this particular bill. )

I do need to finish reading it but here's the first major one on page 4.  LEV wants us all to believe that only non-profits can open charters.  They would be right but that doesn't mean only non-profits can run them.  To whit:

A charter school board may:


 Enter into contracts with any school district, educational service district, or other public or private entity for the provision of real property, equipment, goods, supplies, and services, including educational instructional services and including for the management and  operation of the charter school as long as the charter school board maintains oversight authority over the charter school;

Unless I have misread this section, that would mean FOR-PROFIT companies can run any charter school that enters into a contract for those services. 

Also, did you know this bill also allows for conversion schools?  Meaning, a regular school can be converted "in its entirety to a charter school.  Yup, if a majority of parents OR teachers agree to it:

(3) In the case of an application to establish a conversion charter school, the applicant must also demonstrate support for the proposed conversion by a petition signed by a majority of teachers assigned to the school or a petition signed by a majority of parents of students in the school.

Our own built-in Parent Trigger law.  

Also, under Charter applications, Content, "Each authorizer's request for proposals must:" - mentions parents just one time (and it's a throwaway with a mention of "advisory bodies or parent or teacher councils" as examples).

But maybe it gets better.  I'll read on and get back to you.

28 comments:

Sahila said...

really efficient... what the ed deformers took years to do in other parts of the country - DC, NY, LA - they're hoping to push through in one bill here in Washington...

Anonymous said...

First - the crooked lawyers doing the crooked bosses dirty work are doing what crooked lawyers paid to do - put together a crooked mess, and keep paid the payments on the Benz and on the private schools.

Second - having 45 pages makes $en$e. How much time and money does it take to decode 45 pages, instead of 4 or 14?

Third - 45 pages allows the Astro-Turf spin doctors all kinds of opportunity for their language mischief. What were those Orwellian lies from last week ... ??

'continue the conversation'

'have a discussion'

Finally - if you step back and pretend that this LEV et al Charter thing has nothing to do with the hard work of fixing broken systems, and pretend it is the work of duplicitous toadies working diligently to insure their 1% paymasters destroy as much of the community fabric as possible,

ItAllMakesSense

Po3 said...

Will the voters be given the chance to weigh in on charter schools?

Anonymous said...

Po3 -
No, if you believe the good Senator Rodney Tom (D-Medina) - from Seattle Times article by Brian Rosenthal yesterday.

Asked why lawmakers were pursuing legislation instead of again asking voters to approve charters, Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, said he is not willing to risk defeat.

"I don't think education is something you take a gamble with," said Tom, a co-sponsor of the bills. "It's high time that we take care of that here in Olympia."

Oompah

suep. said...

"Non-profit" does not mean an enterprise doesn't make money. It certainly can. Plus it can get special tax exemptions.

"Non-profit" KIPP, Inc., for example, a corporate ed reformer favorite, is a multimillion-dollar operation. CEO Steve Barth and his wife, Wendy Kopp, CEO of the "non-profit" Teach for America, Inc., both make nice salaries and each was handed $50 million by the Obama Administration in 2010 for their "non-profit" enterprises (Education Department Deals Out Big Awards) and TFA got another $50 million from the Wal-Mart Waltons in 2011 (Wal-Mart Founders Charity Gives $50 Million to Teach for America), to list just some of their financial inflow.

There's big money to be had in public education.

Meanwhile, here's a possible glimpse into Washington's future if any of these charter bills pass (bold highlights & comments mine):

"FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Councilman Bryan Principe at BryanPrincipe@yahoo.com or 401-595-6692

Grassroots website launches national petition opposing Achievement First

“Governor Chafee: You said no to the Iraq war, say no to zero tolerance education”

Providence, Rhode Island – January 13, 2012 – WeCanRI.org, an all-volunteer grassroots research and advocacy site, launched a broad-based campaign this week to bring national awareness to Rhode Island’s struggle against Achievement First (AF), an out-of-state charter management franchise that is pushing to open multiple charter schools under the state’s largely unregulated Mayoral Academy law.

Using the online platform Change.org, the group started a petition asking for people statewide and across the country to sign a letter urging Governor Chafee to say no to corporate-driven charter management organizations (CMOs) like Achievement First that are dividing communities, siphoning resources from traditional districts and deepening inequities in schools nationwide.

“Our fight against Achievement First is focused on Providence, but it has national implications,” said Councilman Bryan Principe. “In cities like Newark, Detroit, and New York, people have rallied against these large-scale, corporate model charter schools, only to see them imposed on the community despite enormous public outcry. [MAYBE THIS IS WHY SEN. MEDINA DOESN'T WANT THE PUBLIC TO HAVE A SAY IN THE CHARTER DEBATE.]. It is our hope that Governor Chafee will be the one to finally bring the voice of the people back into the discussion of improving all our public schools for all our children.”

(continued)

suep. said...

(continued)

"The petition highlights Governor Chafee’s history of standing up to powerful forces with questionable claims as he did when he was the sole Republican Senator to oppose the Iraq War, and appeals to the Governor to again say no, this time to well-funded lobbyists promoting Achievement First's application in Rhode Island. From the petition:

In 2002, you were the lone Republican member of the U.S. Senate to oppose authorizing the war in Iraq, something that history has shown was the right choice to make. Even in the face of pressure from colleagues and the marketing machine of the Bush administration you found the courage to say no when the facts didn’t support the assertion that war was necessary. Today you are once again needed to take the lead in standing up against powerful forces who are making questionable claims about what’s best for RI and the country by saying no to Achievement First’s (AF) application to operate charter schools in RI. AF embodies the ‘zero tolerance,’ top-down, business model of education that is being pushed on communities across the country by corporate-backed education ‘reformers’ and charter management organizations (CMOs).


The petition has already received signatures and comments from people across Rhode Island, NY, CT, MA, and as far away as Denver, CO. Some signers have focused on the private use of public money that AF represents by asking the Governor to keep “the public in public education.” Other signatories are parents who have had children in AF schools in NYC and who pulled them out after having had poor experiences at these schools.

These parent signatories describe being “disappointed in the academics as well as the treatment of students” at AF, that their children had been “traumatized” because they didn’t “fit into the AF mold,” and that after removing their children from the tightly controlled AF school environment they’ve had to work hard to “give them back their freedom of speech and their will to have an opinion.”

The petition can be found at http://www.change.org/petitions/rhode-island-governor-chafee-you-said-no-to-the-iraq-war-say-no-to-zero-tolerance-education.


WeCanRI.org is an online grassroots gathering place whose content supports putting public education in the hands of taxpayers and citizens. We believe that a strong democracy requires public education that is by, for, and of the people. We endeavor to balance the debate about education reform that includes community voice and counters the influence of corporate-backed philanthropists and lobbying organizations."

basically said...

Is there anyone who can put together a little cheat sheet of emails and maybe even a form letter to send to legislators to tell them we oppose this? I have time to drive by this blog everyday and check in, but, you know, like many, I work in a school, have school aged kids, volunteer in kid's schools, etc. etc. etc.,

I'm not lazy, just busy, and thought maybe someone had a handy-dandy list they could post. Thanks. It could be its own post, maybe so it would be easy to find?

anonymous said...

"Also, did you know this bill also allows for conversion schools? Meaning, a regular school can be converted "in its entirety to a charter school. Yup, if a majority of parents OR teachers agree to it:"

Not sure what is so wrong with this? If a majority of teachers or parents agree to it then I'd be inclined to back it too. I think of Aki and RBHS as examples. Both have been chronically under enrolled and low performing -for years. I wouldn't have a problem if a charter outfit took them over. Especially if parents and teachers wanted it. It couldn't be worse than what we have now.

2C

mirmac1 said...

House Education Committee

Higher Ed Committee

Handy dandy House email list.

I'm sure Seattle Ed 2010 or Parents Across America-Seattle has a letter drafted. Dora? Sue?

mirmac1 said...

That's fair:

House Education Committee

Higher Ed Committee

Handy dandy House email list

I'm sure Seattle Ed 2010 or Parents across America Seattle has a draft letter. Dora? Sue?

anonymous said...

Sue said "Non-profit" does not mean an enterprise doesn't make money. It certainly can. Plus it can get special tax exemptions. "Non-profit" KIPP, Inc., for example, a corporate ed reformer favorite, is a multimillion-dollar operation. CEO Steve Barth and his wife, Wendy Kopp, CEO of the "non-profit" Teach for America, Inc., both make nice salaries "

And what is different in SPS? SPS is a multimillion dollar non profit operation. And it's CEO, er Super, earns $250,000 per year and gets a car allowance and bonuses to boot.

2C

Anonymous said...

@2c:

The issue is accountability. But you knew that.
-- Ivan Weiss

Melissa Westbrook said...

I plan on creating a letter with points that can be sent to legislators and putting a link to the state legislature on our home page.

The issue about conversion schools is not that parents/teachers shouldn't have input. However, two points.

One, as we have seen in California parents have been misled by people who wanted a charter school. Scare tactics were used on some immigrant parents.

Two, I love how you, as a parent, can force a change to the school but promptly lose any ability to decide what new school goes in (unless you start it yourself).

suep. said...

Exactly, Ivan. Accountability is key. Seattle's school supt. is (in theory at least) selected by a democratically elected school board that is supposed to represent its constituents.

This is designed to offer public accountability. That's why our last supt. got canned -- accountability in action (if a tad late).

Who oversees Barth and Kopp and KIPP and Green Dot and Achievement First? Where exactly do all those millions go? And who elected them? A key demand of the charter supporters is the right to skip these normal safeguards of public accountability and be 'free to innovate' -- as if the two concepts are mutually exclusive. (They aren't.)

I think it's extremely telling that Sen. Medina admitted that he did not want the public to decide whether or not WA has charters.

He's afraid the public will say NO as it has done multiple times in the past.

So this little charter bill shimmy -- the first of many this session -- is effectively an attempted end-run around democracy.

Yes, Medina may well have been democratically elected himself. But is he truly representing the views of his constituents? Doesn't sound like it -- and he appears to know it.

Instead we have political lobbyists, who are funded by corporate ed reform interests like the Gates Foundation, telling these legislators how to vote. -- Chances are Stand for Children wrote this or upcoming charter bills.-- They have the money and time to hang out in Olympia and sweet-talk our reps. We the parents and general public mostly have to rely on e-mail from afar.

Even the PTA set up their charter vote so that very few people could actually participate in it. The national PTA was given $1 mil by Gates in 2009 specifically to push for ed reforms that Gates supports. That quid pro quo appears to be in action here in WA.

Whatever anyone thinks about charters, pro or con, we really all ought to be very alarmed by the ed reformers' repeated and often stealthy tactics to avoid genuine public debate about the issues, and all their attempts to short-circuit the democratic process.

Ed reformers have a problem with democracy. And I have a serious problem with that.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The Senator may have a problem. He does not decide if something goes to a vote of the people - the people do. I certainly would entertain the idea of an initiative against charters if this passes.

But I'm not sure I believe it will come to that.

Anonymous said...

2C…
The thing that concerns me about the conversion schools piece is that it's parents OR teachers, not parents AND teachers. If you're converting an existing school, all the stakeholders should be involved in the discussion/ decision. (I'm not saying it won't be that way necessarily, but the way the propsed leg. is written it could be one group trumps another.) What if the teachers wanted to convert a regular elementary to a STEM or arts focus. Those are fine programs but maybe the families already in that school don't want their kids in those programs. [For the next several years at least, some kids in any given school are there b.c their parents chose it (ie not assigned to it via NSAP.)] Coversely, what if the parents voted to make it language immersion, shouldn’t the staff have a say since it'll dramatically change the school (and the ways they teach, if they can even teach there, presuming they'd need foreign language skills)

On another note- in general, at the meeing at Coe, Carlyle specifically said it wasn't the time for charters. Did he seriously not know this was in the works? He specifically said he wasn’t well versed enough in the topic to say whether he's for or against charters.

This seems super fast tracked and that makes me nervous. Not too wild about the WAPTSA endorsing it either since the first anyone heard of it being part of the PTA platform was at the legislative session (or just prior to it) (and that's a big maybe -- if you happen to subscribe to the WAPTSA or WAPTSA/grassroots emails). If this is what my member dues are going toward, I will certainly not become a PTA member next year.

-sps parent

SolvayGirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SolvayGirl said...

Putting some sort of Kipp-type charter in Aki or RBHS would do NOTHING to increase enrollment. The middle- and upper-income families who live in the Rainier Valley (and there are many) are not looking for Saturday school, home visits and lots of remedial work.

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said...

Who said anything about KIPP Solvay? Not me. Could be a Pre-law magnet, or a school of performing arts for all I know? It puzzles that people always use KIPP as their fall back example? Why is that?

However, to your point, KIPP is a popular model that does seem to work well for low income, minority students. You might be right - A KIPP school might not attract the affluent families of SE Seattle, who, like you, often choose private school, or get into Garfield/APP. But KIPP may be appealing to the many lower income families that live in SE Seattle that also bail on AKI and RBHS. Historically many of them have sent their kids Hamilton, Ingraham and Hale, and any other middle or high schools that had room for them. Sadly, with the lovely NSAP and space tight at Hamilton, Ingraham and Hale those lower income SE families have very limited options (if any) now. They might jump for joy at the thought of a KIPP school. Who knows?

2C

dan dempsey said...

About Non-Profits and making money.

At the time the district ignored all the research, sent the CAO and Board members to visit NTN STEM schools in California of which there were none, and then spent $800,000 on New Tech Network contract ... I did some research.

NTN had been acquired by the KnowledgeWorks Foundation, a non-profit in Ohio.

A search of public records on KW revealed that more than one Board Director was being paid $200,000 annually for working 10 hours a week..... so that person's pay was at a rate where a full 40hrs/wk would equal $800,000 / year.

I see why they were not making a profit.

Anonymous said...

The district put together the NSAP without the 10% set aside. I'm sorry I guess I didn't hear the concern from LEV or those big ed groups complaining about this? Nope. How about the SCPTSA? Anything? Nope. So all of sudden charter is the perfect solution for poor kids, for minorities, and for immigrants because they are left stuck in poor schools due to NSAP. Bring in charters because they can do things public schools can't like hire TFAs, non union workers, have longer school days and school year, use different texts, use different curriculum, have more social wrap around support, and so forth.

With the exception of unionized workers, why can't your innovative public schools or alternative public schools offer just as much. Ah yes, the argument is a charter can be more nimble, wouldn't have all the district bureaucratic mumble jumble to slog through. Well then if that is so and if that is what's holding the train up, why don't we undo the pile up and let the whole train through so that ALL children benefit and not just a few charters to benefit a few children?

And lucky charters, depending on the loopholes, they don't have to be forthcoming with their data and information. They can take over a functioning public school, force public schools to share space and facilities, and even budget to maintain such facilities.

-Wow, what can go wrong?

Charlie Mas said...

If what they do at KIPP is so damn wonderful, then why don't they start doing those things at Aki Kurose and Rainier Beach?

If the people in the neighborhood are demanding KIPP school practices, then why haven't they demanded those practices at Aki Kurose and Rainier Beach?

Through all of the talk about making Aki Kurose and Rainier Beach into schools of choice, why haven't I heard any talk at all about adopting KIPP school practices at these schools?

Through all of the talk about improving the performance at Aki Kurose and Rainier Beach, why haven't I heard any talk about adopting KIPP school practices at these schools?

I don't think the pressure for this is coming from the community. I think it's coming from Olympia and from Education Reform groups.

anonymous said...

"If the people in the neighborhood are demanding KIPP school practices, then why haven't they demanded those practices at Aki Kurose and Rainier Beach?"

I never said the SE community was demanding KIPP school practices. I said that community, after losing many of their "choice" options with NSAP, might welcome a KIPP school if one came to their neighborhood. But then again they may not. I don't know that and neither do you.

Though AKI is the lowest performing middle school in the district, and many SE families avoid the school at all costs, I have never heard the community come together and advocate for a new program, school, pedagogy, or anything else for AKI.

And though RBHS is chronically and severely under enrolled, and the lowest performing HS in the district, until this year when the PTSA advocated for an IB program, I have never heard that community seriously advocate for any new program either.

Are we to ignore the situations at these two schools because the community hasn't come together and demanded a specific approach to improving those schools? Are we to just let them continue to limp along? As we've done for the past decade?

2C

Charlie Mas said...

No, 2C, we don't have to allow these schools to dangle if they need help.

But when we come to give the help we should give the kind of help that is needed. We should give the kind of help that is welcome. We should give the kind of help that will work.

The district should not wait for the community to come together and demand a specific program or service. But neither should the district unilaterally decide what kind of program or service to deliver. They tried that with the Southeast Education Initiative. They decided that Aki Kurose and Rainier Beach should have a performing arts focus.

Instead, the district should take the initiative and begin the effort. They should begin the effort by bringing the community together and finding out what the community wants and will respond to.

There was a PTA meeting at Mercer and folks from Rainier Beach came to talk about their upcoming IB program. All the Mercer families wanted to know about, however, was how safe the school was. The District is not addressing the community's concerns.

The community is not self-organizing - particularly not a middle school community. The District is going to have to do the organizing work first before the community can express itself.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"And though RBHS is chronically and severely under enrolled, and the lowest performing HS in the district, until this year when the PTSA advocated for an IB program, I have never heard that community seriously advocate for any new program either."

Then you missed something because RBHS HAS been advocating for several programs over the years. Most recently they asked for a law enforcement program.

2C, you say "we" and I assume you mean the district? Because there are many of us who WERE advocating for change at RBHS.

dan dempsey said...

Charlie wrote:

I don't think the pressure for this is coming from the community. I think it's coming from Olympia and from Education Reform groups.
Amen, Amen!

After watching the Ed "Three ring" Circus for five years with rings (1) Seattle (2) OSPI and (3) State Legislature and Gov, several things are apparent.

I... These folks have no idea how to make any sense out of ed research nor do they care to do so. Admittedly most ed research is of such poor quality that it is useless ..... but there are usable studies.

II.. All decisions are based on political pressure or what some group wants done. I include US Dept of Ed in the pressure groups, who advance positions without evidence.

III.. I find the idea that it is RBHS community's "fault" for not demanding a particular program absurd.

IV.. The SPS, OSPI, and the State have spent a decade moaning about the achievement gaps and in math have only made things worse. It remains to be seen if the 2008 Math standards and recommended texts will make a difference. ... What we do know is that EDM and Discovering don't work.

V.. The SPS, OSPI, and the State continue to ignore programs that work for educationally disadvantaged learners.... "Project Follow Through" and "Visible Learning" are ignored as the three big deciders do whatever they wish to do. .... The fact that many district selected instructional programs fail to adequately serve the educationally disadvantaged learners cannot be blamed on the southeast community. ..... Would we blamed the patient if his kidney was removed instead of his gall badder during gall bladder surgery?

Vi.. The SPS, OSPI, and State are all guilty of serious educational malpractice. Don't blame that on the parents.

The classic example is what happened to Toppenish HS math when THS became the first school in the state to rocket to AYP failing school status at level 5. OSPI intensive help resulted in progressively lower OSPI grade 10 math scores. .... Now THS is going to be a STEM high school with state assistance.

dan dempsey said...

(continued from above)
Toppenish high school had 171 students take algebra and then the EoC.

EoC pass rate = 8.9%

Level 4 => 0 students = 0.0%
Level 3 => 15 students = 8.9%
Level 2 => 44 students = 25.7%
Level 1 => 109 students = 63.7%
No Score => 3 students

SB 5914 is hardly going to help Toppenish HS close the achievement gaps in math.

118 9th graders took the algebra EoC pass rate = 11.8%

Things are looking up slightly in grade 8
2010 pass rate 23.7%
2011 pass rate 32.3%

For SPS in grade 8 make that
2010 pass rate 60.4%
2011 pass rate 61.6%

Toppenish Low Income = 97.8%