Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Charter Back-and-Forth on KUOW

The last couple of days have seen interviews with Senator Rodney Tom (one of the sponsors of the charter bill) and Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos (who chairs the House Education committee).   I note that the Tom interview was longer than the Tomiko Santos interview and it would have been nice to allow the Representative equal time.

Senator Tom certainly had a lot to say including:
  • "It's another option" - again, not a pilot program but a law.  
  • He stated that the bill was written "tightly" - It's not so tight if the word used most in the oversight sections is "may"
  • He spoke of charters doing well that "operate in the projects".
  • He also that the Legislature heard from voters that they don't want more money going into the system without change.  I would love to see some numbers on that statement.  Not that I don't think that may be true, I'm just wondering how many people actually said it.
  • When asked if this issue should go to a vote of the people, the Senator said that education is not something "we gamble on."  We vote on serious issues all the time.  I have to wonder what his line is between what voters should decide and what the Legislature should decide.
  • He again made the claim that there was no money coming out the education budget for this.  That's may be true but there is NEW spending in this bill and no matter how he, LEV, Stand or anyone else try to dodge that issue, it's the truth
His most damning statement?  Ross Reynolds asked him, point-blank, if the charters would only be for economically challenged areas and Senator Tom said, "Yes."  Again, that is NOT true.   You could have charters in Bellevue, Laurelhurst or even Mercer Island.  There is nothing in this bill that limits where a charter can be placed. 

And, there are no guarantees that the majority of charters will even be for educationally disadvantaged students.   They could be but this legislation does not explicitly say that charter schools are only to be enacted for educationally disadvantaged students.

Tomiko Santos was less expansive than Tom. 
  • She said that, in her committee, the bill did not have the votes to pass out of the committee.   
  • Her concern is that this bill is only help for some children and would not be available to all children throughout the state.  To fact-check that statement, it's true in that it is very unlikely that any charters would be in rural areas and even go state-wide but it is possible.
  • When asked about Ramona Hattendorf's statement for the Washington State PTSA that it wasn't fair that two people could curtail the dialog on charters, Tomiko Santos pointed out that they had a dialog on their committee and a full public hearing that was well-attended.  
  • She also pointed out that they have a budget deficit and that this legislation would divert precious dollars.   She's right on that point.  
Again, I don't mind if people have beliefs on the rightness of charters.  I have a hard time when they are less-than-truthful.  I believe it is wrong to mislead or tell half-truths or even lie to win what you want to see happen.  

27 comments:

Kathy said...

Some claim charters won't take dollars out of public ed. Check out Pennsylvania:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/education/pennsylvania-schools-funding-fight-pits-district-against-charter.html?pagewanted=1&ref=education

Please contact your legislators and others in Olympia on this matter.

mirmac1 said...

I wonder if Rep. Eric Pettigrew agrees with Tom's statements. Holy Crap! "Projects?!"

suep. said...

Yes, the word "projects" leapt out at me too. Yikes. And isn't he from Bellevue? What does he know about "projects"?

I also found it ironic that Ramona Hattendorf of the WA State PTA leadership found something to be "unfair." She should know. The way the state PTA leadership rigged it so charters got selected as a topic of interest for the state PTA agenda this year -- against the will of most of us members -- was anything but fair.

(I guess that's how the PTA leadership is able to live up to its own motto -- by stifling discussion and dissent."Every Child, One voice" indeed.)

Anonymous said...

Wow! I guess I live in the "projects!"

Solvay

Anonymous said...

Rodney Tom is stinking it up this session. He is also behind a bill to quash public records requests about public schools. Geez, even The Seattle Times editorial page rejects this one.

Apparently this forum's readers need to contact their legislators again. Soon.

DistrictWatcher

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks for that District Watcher. I was going to do a round-up of other issues including the squashing of records and elimination of some of the State Auditor's work around school districts.

Saving a dime and cutting out transparency is not the way to do better.

Anonymous said...

Corporate reformers would love to cut out the annoyance of public record requests. Then our schools could run even more like corporations!

Huzzah!

-skeptical-

Anonymous said...

The following resolution was passed last night by the Ingraham PTSA:

"Ingraham High School PTSA Resolution

FULL EDUCATION FUNDING FIRST

Like every other public school in Washington, Ingraham has suffered from a long pattern of underfunding, resulting in progressively worse cutbacks in teaching and support staff, increasingly inadequate instructional materials, and limited student access to sports and other extracurricular activities. The Ingraham community has done what it can to fill the gaps but we are not a wealthy school. We cannot begin to fill these needs, nor should we be expected to. The Washington Supreme Court recently has ordered the state to meet its constitutionally mandated paramount duty to fully fund basic education; it has required that hundreds of millions of additional dollars per year be added to the education budget.

Ingraham PTSA believes that all efforts of legislators, and all advocacy by pro-education organizations, must be directed toward ensuring that the Washington State Legislature complies with the order to fully fund the state’s public schools. Given the current financial crisis, time spent on other education issues, especially on a divisive issue like charter schools, is a distraction which diminishes the likelihood that full public school funding will be achieved.

Therefore, Ingraham PTSA asks the Washington State Legislature to concentrate its efforts on resolving the funding crisis and to terminate consideration of other education-related issues, particularly those which clearly are divisive and controversial. Ingraham PTSA also asks Washington State PTA to refrain from any further participation in the charter school debate."

DWE

Anonymous said...
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Catherine said...

Well... my name isn't Melissa, but I'd like to add my reasoning in here to the anonymous comment

"Melissa - why would a charter organization go to a place like Mercer Island or Laurelhurst? Those schools are perceived to be successful so no rational organization would try to enter that areas." Businesses go after after the easy money. Educating advantaged children has multiple financial upsides: first, they cost less per pupil to get to standard. Second, their parents can be counted on to foot the bill for some items, leaving more of the state allocation as profits to the charter organization. Third, because the kids are advantaged, the track record of the charter organization can be artificially inflated.

"Secondly, if this legislation specifically said that charters were REQUIRED to serve educationally disadvantaged students (and it could be amended to state that), would it be more amenable to you?" I would say this is a two part issue. First, I object that charter proponents state that the legislation would have charters serve the disadvantaged in the "projects." The legislation does no such thing and they misrepresent the legislation. Define disadvantaged. There is no legal definition that I'm aware of. And frankly comparing an ADHD/Aut-Spectrum child of a wealthy family to one from a single parent struggling household doesn't make much sense either. Both could be considered disadvantaged. A charter could easily, and they have a track record of, cherry picking the easier cases, and counseling out the harder ones that slip through.

In my mind it gets down to 'Is there anything a charter could do that an alternative school can't?" The answer is no. What a charter would not have, is a district coming into the school each year and threatening the existence of the alternative program. In my mind THAT is a huge issue with the current system. I've watched NOVA for 6 years, and the vast amounts of time that Principal Perry and his team have had to spend defending their program again and again and again, when they have a proven track record, instead of teaching the kids, should be held up as an example of something that IS wrong with the current system and can be fixed without corporations entering k-12 public education.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm going to answer 'anonymous' before I delete this person (another one who can't read directions). The comment did make me smile because many people think that charters are just for urban areas or "projects" as Senator Tom likes to say.

Why would they go to Mercer or Laurelhurst? Because even people in wealthy areas like choice. Go Google charter schools in New Jersey and see the major fight there in the suburbs over charters coming into wealthy districts and the districts, to their surprise, find that charters aren't just for the urban areas.

Another example? These people like foreign language immersion and while it's a defacto thing here in SPS, it isn't in other parts of the country.

But see, charter take money out of districts and ALL districts know this, whether they are in a city or in the suburbs.

Another area of worry? "Ethnically-themed" schools. This is concern with this legislation because it doesn't specifically bar it and yet in other parts of the country - Minnesota, NY, and New Jersey - it is an issue.

Yes, the issue of this legislation being all about serving educationally disadvantaged students appears to be a smoke-screen for allowing charters in the state. Because if it were about that population, the word "require" would be in the bill and there wouldn't be any "may" in the oversight passages.

Anonymous said...

"Projects" - Perfect. Not the least bit shocking at all. I'd say it was a Freudian slip, except it wasn't. That's just Bellevuese for sub-median housing, which is why I'm reposting here what I wrote last night, before Tom graced my ears with "projects":

Tom's antics are a sharp stick in the eye to the urban districts he couldn't venture near without wetting his pants. Tell me again, Mr. Medina, that it's all about "the kids" and not "the money." Right.

So, was I right; or was I right?

Tom's a clown, but a careful enough clown to avoid sh*tting where he eats.

WSDWG

disgusted said...

Senator Tom will have a Town Hall meeting on Feb. 18th.

http://www.kirklandreporter.com/news/138873499.html

mirmac1 said...

A charter tweet notes:


Pressley Baird
Virgo Middle will reopen in fall 2012. read my story from @starnewsonline here: bit.ly/yTZZy7 #ilm


Pressley Baird
@brianmrosenthal and in those nine months, they wrote a charter proposal and a new public school proposal. tell Seattle to speed it up!


Pressley Baird
New Hanover school board unanimously approves Markley's plan to reopen Virgo Middle in fall 2012, nine months after they voted to close it.


Now that's fast-tracking

Anonymous said...

anyone notice the incessant and effective counter messaging from the WEA to these LEV-lies & their lackeys?

ding ding ding!!

NOPE!

You see senior union "leadership" in this state is afraid of losing their seat at the kiddie table, or having their spork and mush at the kidde table taken away - so they hide behind this upper middle class "We-don't-lower-ourselves" kind of messaging strategy which worked wonders for people like Dukakis, Gore and Kerry.

I will give the union 'leaders' credit - if you can keep you're paycheck by being incompetent,

WhatMeWorry?

Anonymous said...

darn - wrong "you're" ... should have been "your".

IDoWorry.

seattle citizen said...

Then there's Lynne Varner, over at the Times, cranking out yet another pro-charter piece, this one basically saying that both sides of the Reform debate are too white (and she thereby ignores both poverty AND substantive discussion about Reform) while craftily ignoring the fact that Reform almost completely targets minorities.
("Choice," the newer argument for Reform, is merely another tactic, and this tactic also relies heavily on "minority communities should have choice" so its really just an expansion of the original "achievement gap therefore charters" argument.)
Her argument could be better stated: Both sides are predominantly white, but one side argues for good education for ALL children while the other uses race to push its agenda.

anonymous said...

"Another area of worry? "Ethnically-themed" schools. "

I see some of that here is SPS and haven't heard much push back about it??

We have The Indian Heritage School, and Pathfinder with it's Native American Theme. And we had The African American Academy too.

We also have our immersion schools like JSIS, that have a strong cultural focus on the Spanish and Japanese cultures, and teach most subjects in those languages.

Haven't heard many complaints about any of this.

Wandering mind

Anonymous said...

And in our final story this morning: Varner - at a loss for any valid arguments - inevitably plays the race card.

Perhaps she's right: Maybe I just can't understand or don't get some minorities. Like those who ignore reams of data, history, and red flags waving right in their faces, and still march hand-in-hand with the forces that repeatedly exploit them and profit from their suffering. No, I'll never understand why writers who don't do their homework, because it's easier to parrot press releases and propaganda qualify as "journalists" or get published at all. And I'll never understand, LKV, why Pettigrew's bag-o-platitudes doesn't ring as hollow to you as it should to any living, breathing human being. Those parts I'll just never "get," since I didn't grow up in South Central with a single mom.

LKV has failed, despite repeated attempts, to present a valid argument for charters based on any empirical reasoning or data, but instead plays the race card, employing anecdotes and slogans to marginalize all who disagree with her positions, regardless of the legitimacy of their concerns.

With brilliant minds like Varner's on the case, I wonder why the achievement gap remains so hard to solve. Hmm. WSDWG

Melissa Westbrook said...

Wandering Mind, the issue (and I didn't make it clear) is that the charters in question in other states are ethnically-theme including the discussion of religion and religious services after the school day ends.

For example, there are a couple of Hebrew schools in NY/New Jersey where, in the course of teaching about this heritage, they do talk about the religion of Hebrews. They, of course, CANNOT teach how to practice the religion nor have religious services during the day. But it is a fine and wavy line and there are issues in charters around the country.

I found that in the bill the words "sectarian and religion" are linked in two places (donations and starting a charter - both prohibit these groups from participating) but religion is NOT mentioned again in another section where the word sectarian is. This worries me in light of the issues with charters in other states.

Anonymous said...

Cutting transparency doesn't save a dime . . . it usually creates opportunity for spending additional dimes dishonestly or wastefully.

I haven't heard the term 'projects" in Seattle since the sixties, I think.

I'm all for ethnically-themed schools. The more generous we are in allowing children to learn about themselves and their history - which is quite different from those of us who evolved from anglo roots - makes them more complete and emotionally healthy. Even studying religion is fine as long as it is under the umbrellow of history/culture or literature.

It isn't more information that turns people into bigots. I've always thought a good Renaissance education is what makes liberals so generous, kind and tolerant.

Charter schools? Read as much as you can and you will soon see they are mainly another marketing tool for the rich. There was a recent article (which I can't find but will keep looking) that Wall Street was doing quite well with the charter school industry.

n...

Anonymous said...

"umbrellow" - I think I've coined a new word. "umbrella."
n...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Anonymous, we delete ALL comments labeled anonymous. All of them. You must have a name/moniker at either the top or the bottom of the comment.

Our policy is quite clear and evident above the comment section if you care to read it.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Forgot to "sign" that previous post. But I'll do it here.

o...

joanna said...

Ask why would the unproven world of charter schools be open for only poor kids? Why would we set poor or minority children in privatized settings? Why would we segregate them? Don't they have individual talents that need to be nurtured and challenges like all children? Look at Colorado a well-off state, have charter schools saved them? How is funding doing there? Look at any other states with charters and ask yourself have they contributed to the overall situation. no more ranting>