We don't know what consequences this charter school law could have for Washington State or for Seattle Public Schools. Maybe some school districts will seek to become authorizers, maybe none, maybe all. It's a wild card that could lead to some seriously uncoordinated charter school authorization. It's pretty likely that some charter school management companies, like KIPP, Green Dot, and RocketShip, will seek to establish charter schools in the state, but there's no telling if they will or not, how many schools they will seek to create, where they will seek to place them, and whether they will seek conversions. The conversion option - making a public school into a charter school - creates all kinds of unknown potential consequences. How could a district manage their capacity if an attendance area school is switched to an option school and the district loses control of the school's capacity? The "parent trigger" and "teacher trigger" element of the conversion feature of the initiative creates all kinds of potential extortion for school districts and, if that extortion fails, the possibility of reprisals. The potential for extortion also creates the possibility that districts could become significantly more responsive to organized communities and teacher corps.
I have put forward a number of possible unexpected outcomes of this law. I have also thought of a way that the WEA could try to subvert it. Let me put forward another idea, this one still subversive in the larger sense, but not necessarily to subvert the law.
In this plan, the union still takes control of the situation and manages it (lest they be managed by it), but manages it with the intention of sincerely working it instead of blocking it.
Let's say that the WEA identifies no fewer than eight schools where kids are doing less well than similar kids in other schools. There are at least eight schools in the state (possibly even eight just within Seattle) with a lot of the "at-risk" students as defined in the law and with significant achievement gaps.
Then the union and the teachers puts its unique expertise into a plan for each of these schools in which it describes how the time, money, and skills available in schools and their communities could be marshaled to greatest effect for the kids in those schools. The union would do well to review successful charter applications from elsewhere to make sure it writes the most persuasive proposals possible.
Again, the union takes this very seriously and puts forward their very best effort. This includes working to get strong majority votes among the teachers for conversion and, particularly, making early submission of its proposals so they get the full attention of the selection committee and priority for approval. It could be critical for them to find a friendly school district that will seek to become an authorizer, will quickly approve their applications, and promptly submit them to the State Board ahead of any others.
There is excellent reason to believe that many, if not all eight of the selected charter schools for the first year, would be these schools. The process for selecting approved charter applicants to move forward with creating their schools is murky, but it has elements of first-come, first served and a lottery element. It's murky.
Upon the receipt of notice from an authorizer that a charter school has been approved, the state board of education shall certify whether the approval is in compliance with the limits on the maximum number of charters allowed under subsection (1) of this section. If the board receives simultaneous notification of approved charters that exceed the annual allowable limits in subsections (1) of this section, the board must select approved charters for implementation through a lottery process, and must assign implementation dates accordingly.
Anyway, however the process works, let's presume that the union-sponsored and supported applications are approved by the authorizers and selected for implementation by the State Board of Education. Then the teachers, the union, and the communities work really hard and do their best to make these previously troubled schools great. Of course, the schools' teachers continue under contract provisions that are essentially identical to the District's CBA. After all, the union would be on both sides of the table at that bargaining session.
Right there, all of the folks who want to make the teachers and the teachers' union the villains in the "school failure" myth would be crossed up because they wouldn't know whether to root for or against union-sponsored charter schools. That element is sweet for me.
The converted schools would show promise immediately. Within a couple years, they would show results. Then the union turns to the state- and district-level bureaucrats and asks them why they stood in the way of the innovations that the teachers knew, all along, would have helped these students. Then the union turns to all of their detractors and tells them to stuff it.
While this idea is not specifically anti-charter, it is still subversive because it show who really are the obstacles to student growth, it shows that the union and the teachers are not the obstacle, and it represents workers control of the workplace. But it is also beneficial to everyone - the students are better served, the teachers are happier and free to do their best work, and the union's reputation is polished rather than tarnished (as could happen in Devious Subversive Plan A).