Things are heating up in the charter school bill race.
To bring you up-to-date, both the House and the Senate bills failed to make it out of committee. The heads of those committees, Sharon Tomiko Santos and Rosemary McAuliffe, held them back. (Tomiko Santos said on KUOW the House bill did not have the votes to make it out of committee.) This, of course, did not sit well with its sponsors (and, of course, the Times, LEV, Stand, etc.)
Now, reportedly, what has happened is some back-door dealing over the various teacher assessment bills and the charter bills. Publicola puts it all together in their report. From the Tacoma News Tribune:
After a weekend of negotiations managed by Gov. Chris Gregoire, a deal has been reached on competing education reform bills.
One sponsored by Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Bellevue) —and supported by education reformers in sync with the President Obama/Arne Duncan agenda (though not many local Democrats)—explicitly ties student performance to teacher evaluations; evaluations that would also play a direct role in salary and hiring and firing. The other, sponsored by Rep. Kristine Lytton (D-40, Anacortes)—and supported by the teachers union—would have allowed school districts to use student achievement as a metric in teacher evaluations, but not mandated it. Additionally, the Lytton bill would not have mandated that hiring and firing be based on the evaluations.
Publicola goes on:
Supporters of Sen. Tom’s approach for stricter and more specific evaluation standards—a coalition Republicans and moderate Democrats (and some progressives such as state Rep. Eric Pettigrew)—have used the budget as a bargaining chip, saying their education reform agenda was a “go home” issue (meaning they wouldn’t support the budget unless ed reform measures went through.)
Their other agenda item, charter schools, is reportedly not part of the deal. (bold mine)
Publicola is cautious in stating this is a fluid situation.
Part of this dealing was with Senator Ed Murray (who happens to be my senator). He apparently thought that the ole' "scratch my back" idea was worth it for getting the budget he wanted in exchange for some sort of charter plan. Again from Publicola:
However, with the League hyping him, Pettigrew is pushing forward with his bills. He told PubliCola last week, after his bill died in committee, that he was pushing for a “laboratory version” that would set up a limited charter test pilot exclusively in south Seattle. Pettigrew reportedly has gotten speaker of the house Rep. Frank Chopp (D-43, Wallingford) to consider the plan. That’s because the education reforms have become key to securing a budget deal.
In the senate, a powerful contingent of moderate Democrats have allied with Republicans who support the bills. Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Bellevue) and Republican Sen. Steve Litzow (R-41, Mercer Island) are sponsoring companions to Pettigrew’s bills, and have forced the Democratic leadership (including the governor, who’s sworn against charters) to hold lengthy negotiation sessions over the bills this weekend in exchange for supporting the budget.
In fact, liberal senate ways & means chair, Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill), is co-sponsoring the evaluation bill and resurrected both bills in his budget committee after the senate education committee chair Sen. Rosemary McAullife (D-1, Bothell) tabled them a week earlier.
A couple of things. One, the lab idea? Guess who had a bill setting up lab schools (for low-performing schools) paired with four-year public university? Senator Marcie Maxwell. But it died and I have to wonder where Rep. Pettigrew was if he thinks this is such a great idea.
Two, if some of the "road-kill" Dems want to hold up budget work, that's on them. But I wouldn't be held hostage to them.
Three, Senator Ed Murray might want to reconsider helping them. He needs all the support he can get for fighting off the now-filed challenge to the just-signed gay marriage bill. I will absolutely vote against any ballot measure to undo that law. But will I give my time and resources to that effort? Not if Murray comes out helping charter school legislation.
Also, if he thinks that his friend, Senator Tom is going to stand with him through the hard times and support his re-election, he might want to rethink who his friends are. It's not Tom's constituents in Bellevue and Medina.
The fight is on and yet all we can know is that ...the fight will continue.
If the charter bill gets passed, there will be a challenge on the ballot.
If the charter bill doesn't get passed, either a challenge on the ballot or bringing it up again next session. (Although putting it on the ballot would go against Senator Tom's belief that "you don't gamble on education" issues by putting them on the ballot. Oh, we only "gamble" on voting for President. Senators. You know, petty stuff like that.
It seems like the teacher assessments are more a priority for some legislators than charters this session. My prediction is that the charter bill will not pass this session but will come back in some form or another somehow, someway.