So there seems to be a couple of themes emerging from the pro-charter side. First, it seemed it was about choice.
"Why do you oppose choice for poor children?" This is what one of the $100k donors said to me.
So first of all, that's a fairly unfair and disrespectful thing to say. There is no one that would oppose choice for poor children.
What is hard to understand is this belief that you can equalize everything in education for all children. (Teach for America and charter school supporters believe this and it's a great slogan but it's not reality-based.)
For example, we can't give every single child the option of a private school education (Bill Gates not withstanding as he recently lauded his childhood school, Lakeside, and said he wanted a Lakeside experience for all kids. Don't we all, Bill, don't we all?)
Better education? Absolutely. But what is interesting is this idea that charters are so innovative and that we will see all sorts of new and varied education options. I categorically reject this idea (based on the evidence from the last 20 years and 41 states). We can hope that will be the outcome but I doubt it.
What the initiative will give is choice and only choice. No guarantee of better or more innovative schools being the charters picked and that they can deliver. For parents who want different (read:better), it will be a hollow choice.
Now, we hear from Shannon Campion, the head of Stand for Children, that this initiative is "modest and reasonable with high accountability." (And, that's funny because the $100k donor ALSO told me it was "reasonable." Looks like the fax machine spewing the daily talking points is working well.)
There is nothing modest about this proposal. (And fyi, embedded in the initiative is the ability to raise the number of charters beyond 40 without going to the Legislature. Thanks to Kate Martin for pointing that out.) This is a very aggressive charter bill with the most wide-ranging conversion section/trigger in the entire country.
Accountability? It's in there but it's vague on enforcement. Remember, the DOE even said that one of the number one complaints from authorizers around the country (to everyone's chagrin) is the inability to shut down poor-performing charters.
Over at Washington State Wire, they get it right in their headline "The Gang's All Here! Tech Biggies Backing Charter Schools - Gates Now at $1M."
Yes, the gang is all together with Gates at the head chair. (I'm certain as I write that Stand and LEV are desperately trying to get parents and regular folks to throw a few bucks at I-1240 so it won't look at skewed as it does.)
But it looks like what it looks like - a small group of wealthy white people acting paternalistically who believe they "know" what is the right answer for poor children. Now, charters will not come to their children's schools nor will their children ever attend one but really, they know best.
Lastly, I have to laugh. Apparently Anne Martens, the Communications person at Stand, has this to say about me, "She is batshit but that was on a completely different post." (This was in response to someone who called her out on that description of me.)
I have never met Ms. Martens. But that she desperately wants to marginalize me and my work against charters by name-calling?
Weak. You don't win arguments (or votes) by name-calling.