Stand for Children issued a statement saying all the changes from the WEA had been rejected but apparently they don't bother to keep up with what actually happens in court. They say they will use a combination of volunteer and paid signature gatherers (but there is no legal way to find out how many of each but I suspect an ARMY of paid). They need about 250,000 signatures to be on the ballot but it would be good to get at least 300,000 for safety's sake.
The title now says "Initiative Measure No. 1240 concerns creation of a public charter school system."
I totally agree with this as voters need to know this is a system and not just a few schools.
The concise description is still over by 3 words but the WEA missed that.
Bill Gates has given $200k to the cause and Nick Hanauer has kicked in money as well.
It is likely you will see these petitions at your local farmers markets or in the ferry lines or big public events. Please, whether you like charters or not, Decline to Sign. Here are my top ten reasons:
One - Conversion Charters. This is the use of the so-called "trigger" that would allow a charter with an approved proposal to solicit signatures from either parents OR teachers at ANY school. If they receive a majority of signatures from either group, they take over the school, including the building. The district retains ownership of the building and major maintenance responsibilities but has no other control.
Keep in mind - the trigger was for parents to allow takeover by a charter for a FAILING school. As written, a charter could take over ANY school - TOPS, Roosevelt, Eckstein, Denny, Laurelhurst, etc. It is a dangerous, dangerous clause. There is NO other trigger law, in place or proposed, that allows takeover of ANY school.
Two -Levy dollars. Any education levy elections after a charter is created would have to give a share of those dollars to charters (for either operations or capital levies). Districts do not normally divvy levy dollars equally among schools but that’s what they would have to do with charters.
And, if a charter is in a private building, capital levy dollars would go to that building. Taxpayers would be paying to maintain private facilities.
Three - Parent involvement. Sign a petition to takeover an existing school? That’s the end of your say as a parent. The word “parent” is mentioned 16 times in this initiative and only one time is it about involvement. A charter must only state in its application “opportunities and expectations” for parents.
Four –“Better” schools for high-need students. The wording in the initiative says “authorizers shall give preference” to charter proposals for schools for high-needs students but don’t say how. It then goes on to say that nothing prevents any other kind of school to be created.
Five – Authorizers. There would be two kinds of authorizers - a new state charter commission and existing school boards. That Commission is not bound by the same procedures as school boards and the initiative does not state what procedures they should use to authorize charter schools.
Six – Accountability. If anything goes wrong at a charter, no elected official or government employee can be held responsible.
Seven– Religion. There is a section of the initiative that bans any sectarian issues in a charter. However, that section leaves open the possibility –as has happened in other states – of ethnically-themed charters that include “learning” about religion. Indeed, the largest charter group in the country is themed around the country of Turkey.
Eight – Profit. A charter must be started by a non-profit but they can then outsource management and nearly everything else to a for-profit entity. A charter board only has to retain its “oversight authority.”
Nine– Commission members. There are no mechanisms for oversight of Commission members and no way to remove them.
Ten – Rent/Sale of Buildings. Charters have the right of first refusal, at or below market value, for any school building up for sale or lease. They also can seek room at libraries, community service organizations, colleges/universities or any public or private entity at or below market value.