Braving the snow day, the president of WSSDA (Washington State School Directors' Association), Mary Fertakis, testified today before the Senate committee hearing testimony about SB 6202, the charter schools bill.
Here's a link to the story at the Seattle Education blog. It is clear from her testimony that she has read this bill thoroughly and spotted several of the issues I saw as well. From the SE blog story:
In her testimony, Fertakis pointed out the association’s concerns that the bill may fall short of its stated objective to serve students who struggle to achieve due to poverty, racial and ethnic diversity, and special needs. She referenced Section 105 of the bill, which allows charter schools to be set up for educationally disadvantaged students, but noted that the bill also allows charter schools to be set up around a special emphasis, theme, or concept that do not have to serve educationally disadvantaged students, which is the stated purpose of the bill.
The bill caps the number of charter schools to 10 a year, with a majority “reserved” for schools serving educationally disadvantaged students. However, as Fertakis noted, the bill (Section 115) is clear that if the reserve is not met, the State Board of Education must allow implementation of other charters, regardless of whether they serve educationally disadvantaged students.
Her suggestion? If the Legislature continues to pursue the bill, then all 10 of the charter schools should be focused solely on our most struggling students.
Fertakis told the committee the bill goes too far, too fast. She said if it was the Legislature’s intent to pass a bill authorizing charter schools in Washington, then a decision of that magnitude should be sent to the people for a vote. This is particularly important when charter schools will be using public monies without locally elected oversight.
In other news, the League of Women Voters of Kitsap County have come out against the charter legislation as well. They say:
• Private boards selected by non-profit corporations rather than publicly elected by citizens will govern charter schools. Voters will lose their right to elect representatives to oversee the spending of their taxes.
• Charter schools will be exempt from state statutes and rules applicable to school districts and boards, creating a separate and unequal school system even though Article IX of the Washington state Constitution requires a general and uniform system of public schools. *
• HB 2428 and SB 6202 will create additional administrative functions and costs for the State Board of Education, the Superintendent of Public Instruction and School Districts at a time when further cuts are proposed for K-12, and the Supreme Court has ruled in McCleary v. State that Washington is failing to provide ample funding for education. *
• There are many successful innovative and alternative schools as part of the public school system in Washington state. Let’s encourage them and work toward full funding rather than be distracted by charter schools that the voters have already rejected three times.