Friday, November 09, 2012

Updates on 1240

1240 - Still 600K votes still to count and it's down by just under 46K.  So doable but the number crunching from the top counties where each side leads just don't support a win unless there is some big turn towards No.  

Ditto on the race for Governor.  The numbers are just not trending McKenna's way so I believe Inslee will take it.  Frankly, I think that even though Inslee has been somewhat vague on funding issues, he is far less rigid than McKenna on education issues.  And, the Legislature is going to have to do a lot of the heavy lifting of figuring out how to fund and enact the McCleary decision.

I do go on record here.  Whether you like charters or not, McCleary should have been figured out and enacted BEFORE any vote on charters.  We only muddy the waters by bringing them in at this point and that will be just one more issue that makes this a difficult process.

Good article from the Seattle Weekly's Nina Shapiro about the conversion portion of I-1240. 

Hilariously the Yes side says the confusion comes from the movie, Won't Back Down.  No, it doesn't because NO ONE saw that thing (and the box office numbers prove it).

The Yes side can say until the cows come home that "just" a petition can't convert a school.  No one on the No side EVER said that, in writing or in public.  It's part of the application process but there is nothing in 1240 that says that an authorizer can do to challenge it or reject it just on the basis on it being a conversion charter. 

Meaning, if the petition is there, it's just one more thing on the authorizer checklist to check off.

Lisa Macfarlane also falsely claims that "It all happens in the light of day."  No, it doesn't.

Neither the authorizer nor the charter group has to notify the school, the union, parents or the district in any way shape or form.There is to be one public hearing for a charter and if you have been to any of the district's, then you know it can be as short as 15 minutes.  They do NOT have to state if they are converting a school (and if you aren't savvy enough to ask the question, good luck).  

I-1240 does NOT state what a charter group has to say (or not say) at a public hearing.

And that is why every single charter application will need to be tracked.  You don't want to be blindsided if they come after an SPS school (especially if it is YOUR school). 

Shapiro asks a lot of good questions:

But it certainly seems within the realm of possibility that a narrow majority of parents or teachers might initiate a charter conversion plan and get it approved. And then what happens to the, say, 49 percent of parents who don't want to send their children to a charter? Where will their kids go? To neighboring schools that are already maxed out? 

What about future years? Where will upcoming kindergarteners in the charter school's neighborhood be assigned given that the initiative says that students can't be assigned to a charter, they must apply?

McFarlane says she has a hard time getting her "head around" all the hypotheticals. We understand. So do we. That's why we're more than a little queasy that 1240 might win without a general understanding of all the ramifications. 

Wait a minute.  Macfarlane is the one who told me that I wasn't reading the initiative correctly, probably because I didn't understand "legal" terms (and I can confidently state that the overwhelming majority of people in the room were not, like me, lawyers) and she can't wrap her head around the possible outcomes of I-1240?

40 comments:

suep. said...

But why is Shapiro writing about the very troubling "trigger"/conversion aspect of 1240 now? It's too late to inform voters. The Weekly should have published this article a month ago.

Writes Shapiro:
What? You don't know anything about that clause? Don't worry, it's a safe bet that you're not alone. There were so many big races and hot-button initiatives on the ballot that the details of 1240 got lost in the shuffle.

"Lost in the shuffle?" That's a pretty poor excuse. It's a safe bet that voters didn't know about the "trigger"/conversion stipulation of 1240 because the Seattle-McKenna Times made a concerted effort not to inform voters about it, and other publications, like the Weekly said nothing at all.

Until today -- three days after the election!

What is the job of journalists and papers like the Times and Weekly but to dig into such serious details, explain them to their readers, before they vote, so they are not lost in any "shuffle"

I think everyone was caught off guard by how close the vote is, and AWOL journalists and papers with agendas figured it would pass easily and they could deal with the inevitable details later. That's still no excuse for not fully analyzing the initiative ahead of time.

It was left for the blogs to do that.

mirmac1 said...

I hope some of these "hypotheticals" turn around and bite them in the *ss.

dw said...

I hope some of these "hypotheticals" turn around and bite them in the *ss.

You might want to check that attitude at the door.

Yes, I have the same visceral reaction, so I understand. But for every hypothetical that bites these guys in the ass, a bunch of kids get harmed. :-(

Right now I don't know what to hope anymore, since it does look like it's going to pass. (I think it will get even closer over the next few days, maybe down to around 50.3-50.4, but I don't see it losing). I think the only real hope at this point is that a legal challenge is successful in some way, but it's easy for the peanut gallery to call for a legal challenge. Making it actually happen, down in the trenches, is a lot of hard work and a lot of expense, with no guarantee of success.

I'm really disappointed in the actions of our major media outlets over the past few months. Having this Weekly article come out too late to help any voters understand the issue is just terrible.

Eric B said...

The answer to all of this is in the implementation. The charter folks through the entire process said that this was going to have public control. Now is the time for Dorn to come out and say that his office will be handling the regulation writing that will back up this law. If people squawk, then there is far more ammunition for a "separate and unequal" lawsuit. If he's successful (and 1240 survives court challenges), then there is a potential strong base for open government here.

All of the "nobody knows" arguments we talked about on th eNo side will need to be figured out by someone. Regulations and policy will need to be written. I would sure rather that be Dorn (who seems to have a rational head on his shoulders about charters) than Steve Sundquist.

A simple example on conversions is that parents could be required to vote on whether the conversion should proceed AFTER the full application is made and all plans are ready for approval. If we wanted to use tactics from the anti-union folks, we would require the Yes votes for the conversion to represent an absolute majority of the children at the school. In other words, not voting would be a No vote.

Anonymous said...


Randy Dorn will be interesting to watch.

For the No people he offers:

- In the trenches experience as a teacher and principal
- Apparently according to his radio interview, a vow to fight this
- A strong independent streak
- Just reelected without a general election opponent and feeling strong

For the Yes people he offers:

- A stated willingness in the past to support charters
- The endorsement of the Seattle Times
- A partnership he formed with Microsoft called Microsoft Academy, showing he is willing to cut public/private deals and not hew to a purity one way or the other on public education
- And of course, a strong independent streak

- Dorn is in nobody's pocket

Gabriel said...

Charter school initiative: How easy would it be to 'flip' a school?

http://www.kplu.org/post/charter-school-initiative-how-easy-would-it-be-flip-school

Gabriel

dorainseattle said...

It's not so easy to flip a school. Going through the process is derisive and can cause bad feelings within a school community for a long time. There can also be lawsuits associated with trying to convert a school to a charter school.

I'm in LA right now and have connected with several parents and teachers during my time here.

So far I have met with a teacher in Ventura County who went through a battle over her school being converted into a charter school.

See: Piru School will not become charter, state board rules

http://www.vcstar.com/news/2010/may/05/state-board-rejects-piru-charter-school/#ixzz2BNb585UR

The process was so stressful that this teacher has taken leave for a year and doesn't know if she will return. She is a veteran teacher who loves what she does but the community is still torn and there are bad feelings all around.

In Adelanto, CA, there is a battle being waged among parents where the parent trigger was used to convert a public school into a charter school.

There has been a court battle and so far the privatizers have won but the parents are not done yet. I am meeting with them this weekend.

From Diane Ravitch's blog:

Parent Revolution, the organization handsomely funded by the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and the Walton Foundation, has finally gotten a charter conversion in the state of California, nearly two years after the law was passed.

Some victory: In a school with 600 plus students and 400 families, only 286 parents voted for the charter; when some changed their mind and tried to rescind their vote, they were told by a judge that they could not take their signature off the petition.

http://dianeravitch.net/2012/10/23/parent-trigger-hoax/

What I have seen so far in California and learned from others, the school conversion/parent trigger process pits families against each other and can severe a school community into pieces.

This is not a good idea.

I'll follow up with a post sometime soon.

Dora


Anonymous said...

UGH. Why does this article say "and that's still a big if" (re: 1240 passing) when the trend is looking pretty clear -- this thing is going to pass, and you, Ms. Shapiro, should have PUBLISHED THIS PIECE BEFORE THE VOTE.


UGH.
NEP

Eric B said...

I think the big difference here is that 1240 allows successful schools to be converted. That means that you can convert a school and still maintain the course it's on. The whole point of converting a failing school is to throw out what's there, which is obviously more contentious.

Case study: If Thornton Creek decided that they're getting a raw deal from the District (imagine that), they put in a charter application. Parent support? the alternative is that the school gets closed, so this is a no-brainer. Check. Community support? We have a bigger kindergarten class than we've ever had. Once we're a charter and not under constant threat of closure, we'll be in even better shape. Check. Academic program? We've got some pretty good test scroes, and they'll be even better once we get a real math curriculum. Check. Financial plan? We'll get more money from the District than we ever did before, so that's not hard. Check. Support services? We'll just contract out busing back to SSD. Somebody will be able to find a business that wants to cater lunch. Check. That's all of Campion's requirements, all by saying that we're going to keep doing exactly what we have been doing. Given a choice of having your school closed down and students scattered vs. starting up a charter, what would you choose? I'd wager on at least a 75-25 vote for conversion.

Word verification is for 1240 supporters: "wearlyin."

Jan said...

AAAGGGHHH. Timing, people, timing! It would have been SOO great if this stuff had come out a month ago.

But -- I guess we take what little we have, and go from there. I agree with the consensus that it looks like this thing will slime its way through, skating on the dishonest campaign of the Yes on 1240 folks, the compromised reporting of ST, and the utter indifference of what little "other media" we have left (except The Stranger -- thanks, Stranger, for trying. You were the voice crying in the wilderness, but we really do appreciate it).

On the other hand -- now that it IS starting to get daylighted, I agree with Eric (at least, I think I do).

First, we try to get some lawyers who specialize in Washington constitutional law to review it and determine whether or not it should be challenged on constitutional grounds, (By the way -- this should happen no matter WHAT you think of charter schools. If you really think a bill is unconstitutional, and you like your constitution, you should speak up. The end doesn't justify the means.

And then -- we go to the regulations. And frankly, I think I am happier having Dorn do this under a democratic administration than a "hands-off, business-loving" one -- so I am hoping that we are dealing with Inslee/Dorn, rather than McKenna/Dorn. The more decisions that are made through a "run it like a business" lens, the more flawed it will be (because really, the public has virtually nothing to say about how businesses run themselves -- they are only "consumers." Caveat emptor, and vote with your feet, and all that stuff. Never mind that ALL the dollars involved are tax dollars, and the flawed "product" or "service" is X years of your child's education.

So, I say -- welcome to the party, Nina, even if it's late. Assuming this thing passes constitutional muster, maybe we can guilt Shannon and Lisa into actually advocating FOR kids (rather than FOR business) by helping to craft regulations that call for robust community involvement and oversight.

I need to go look up the law on amending laws that have been enacted by initiative. I don't think they can be repealed for 2 years (or something like that), but I would be interested to know whether they can be supplemented or amended (for example, to make it clear that a charter can be "reconverted" to a public school by the same conversion process. Seems only fair. If the legislature can't do it, maybe we should start our own initiative to amend the law to so provide. We would have a LONG LONG time to collect enough signatures!

Eric B said...

I think the initiative itself is protected for 2 years unless there's a 2/3 vote to repeal. In this case, obviously not going to happen. Whether they could add another section that only adds rules (eg how to unconvert a charter), I don't know.

Anonymous said...

@ Eric B, you say it's more contentious to convert a failing school, but I'm not so sure. Why would families at successful schools want to risk it? Who says the new charter won't change things? What's to stop those in charge from implementing changes parents and/or teachers don't like?

Seems like if you have a good thing going now, you won't want to roll the dice--unless, of course, it's a self-preservation thing given the district's whimsical approach to closing, uprooting, or otherwise screwing with good schools.

HH

Jan said...

HH -- maybe, but not necessarily.

Case One: you are part of an assignment school with a Montessori program and a "regular ed" program. Both programs are full, but the Montessori one has a waitlist, the gen ed one does not (so there are more Montessori parents), and maybe more Montessori teachers. Why not have one of those groups just vote to convert the entire school to an "option" Montessori school. Those gen ed kids -- who thought that was also "their" neighborhood school? They can just go somewhere else. (Explain how this might NOT be Graham Hill or Leschi?)

Case Two: You are a large, popular, overfull middle school in North Seattle. The middle school APP program has been placed in your building, but many of the teachers and gen ed families haven't really bought into their presence, and the school is "stuffed." The BEX levy has failed and those students aren't going anywhere. There are rumors of split shifts. Why would it not make sense for the gen ed parents or "anti-APP" parents to convert the school to a "regular" middle school. True -- you can't toss APP kids out, but if you inform them all that next year they will be taught at regular grade level (your math now goes no higher than Alg. I in eighth grade, and all classes will be blended, not tracked), how many of them would stay. Over three years, you can reduce the population to one that is sane for the school -- and the kids who leave? They are the District's problem now, not yours. In what way could this not be Hamilton? Or, if you change "APP" to "Spectrum," Eckstein?

Case 3: You are an elementary school in Central Seattle. While you started small, you are growing and your regular ed classes are crowded. The District is discussing changing the assignment boundaries. Meanwhile, a huge portion of your building is devoted to medically fragile special ed kids who take up a great deal of space. Convert -- and simply come up with a "program" (maybe language immersion, or classical -- with uniforms, the trivium, and Latin starting in 3rd grade) that does not "offer the services" those kids need. Why might this NOT be Lowell?

I could go on. My point is, the legislation is written with absolutely no thought for, or care for, ANY students except those in the charter. It is 100% "I'll take mine; screw everybody else." And, as we see from California -- this is exactly how this stuff plays out. VERY contentiously, and for good reason, as it creates CLEAR winners and CLEAR losers. This is "zero sum game" stuff, and DfER, Shannon, Lisa, etc. know it!

Anonymous said...

Who is the party that is the applicant to the state charter commission for the conversion of a public school to a charter school?

Unless this school has the most amazing parents or teachers, it's not likely to be them making the application, is it? I guess that goes to what "credentials" are necessary for the state commission to even accept the application for consideration.

Is this charter initiative set up to facilitate and encourage "grass roots" charter schools? Or is it set up for "established" charter operators with a "track record" to come in and market a conversion plan to a segment of a school population then put their Mitt Romney salesman face on to close the deal?

Oompah

Anonymous said...
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Jan said...

Anonymous at 6:30 said: "The interesting thing about Case 3 is that APP students at Lincoln are still part of Lowell. If the school converted, you'd need a majority vote of parents or teachers from the combined population of Lowell/Lincoln. You'd then have to give the existing students the option to stay. But wait, which building would the charter use, Lowell, Lincoln, or both."

Ouch, Anon -- now my head hurts, because in the CSIPs, APP at Lincoln filed its own -- separate from Lowell (Charlie points this out). I guess, since we are talking forced takeovers here, with capital levy money involved, I am thinking that what the drafters of this law intend is that 50+% of building occupants can "take over" buildings. That, after all, is what the YES proponents (and their banker/corporate backers) want. They want a way to get control of the real estate assets without having to pay anything for them. I don't think they care whether the SSD calls the kids in a building a "school," a "program" or a "conclave of hobbits." They just want to be able to call it "mine" and "for free." And since there will need to be state uniformity on this for the law to work, I don't think the state will care what we call it either. For the kids, after conversion, they will either call it "my school," or "my old school." Or maybe "the neighborhood school my older sister went to, but that I can't get into now, because it takes kids from everywhere by lottery, and I can't get in." Fun, fun, fun.

Here is what I want to know, though. How is it that SSD pays tens of thousands of dollars every year to the Alliance, when the Alliance just got finished helping to support the passage of legislation that is so bad for Seattle Schools? And when will the District politely tell the Alliance that we'll keep our money, thanks, and they can go be somebody else's "friend?"

Eric B said...

@Oompah, Any nonprofit can form a charter and make an application. You could form Friends of XXXX School tomorrow with a few hundred bucks in filing fees. If you have a good friend who can write grant applications well, you could probably beat out the large corporate folks. Remember, it's the first to the finish that get the schools, not the best.

When they were writing the initiative, they were probably thinking of the KIPPs and Green Dots, but there's no restriction. Heck, the NRA could form a school if it felt like it.

Eric B said...

Following up, it would take a moderately extraordinary group of people to just form a charter on their own. I've seen it happen once, by some very dedicated folks. However, if you have a conversion situation with support of most of the staff, you could probably do it a lot easier.

Jan said...

Actually -- I don't have the text in front of me, but I think there is language that requires charter applicants to agree to abide by the rules or policies of some national charter school management association -- and since those rules were probably written by green dots and kipps, they are probably written to "favor" those kinds of organizations. I think we will have to see how the "filters" for government/management/etc. go. I would not be surprised AT ALL to see regs written (or at least proposed) that favor or require hiring big for-profit charter management companies. Otherwise, how do you get the tax money into the hands of the out-of-state charter companies? The Gateses and the Bazoses and the Waltons did NOT spend all this money for the benefit of Wallingford moms in birkenstocks and fleece pullovers who actually want to design and manage their dream schools they wish their kids could go to. (No disrespect to fleece or birks -- this is how I dress when I can -- and I always wished I could live in Wallingford!) We will see, I guess.

seattle citizen said...

Jan writes,
"I think there is language that requires charter applicants to agree to abide by the rules or policies of some national charter school management association"

What?! No way! Really? I didn't see such a thing (and I know you say you don't have the text in front of you, so you're not 100% certain, either....)

That would just be too, too much. Because of course you're right, the national charter group would certainly be rife with Broadies, toadies, Gatesers, and LEV.

That would be toooo much. Ach, my heart.....

(WV says it's "thehini")

Anonymous said...

First on the list of conversion schools would be the ones w/ CAS applications (sps leaks has them all on there)

Those folks are ready to roll. I bet $1 that Queen Anne Elementary is one of the first to apply. (btw, not a failing school) Their whole CAS is like a charter and they could get staff signatures no problem. Probably parents too.

-you heard it here first

Melissa Westbrook said...

SC, Jan is right. What is hilarious is this national charter group is funded by...Gates Foundation and the Walton Foundation. It's the circle of life in charters.

Also, yes, I think the whole thing is written to allow major charter groups in. I would love if there were truly grassroots Washington State charter schools; I could feel okay about that in some ways. But it's pretty unlikely and think the Charter Commission will make sure of that.

Remember, the School Boards that get authorized have to choose charters in an ENTIRELY different manner from the Charter commission. So who knows who will get approved and why?

Ah, 1240, so many vagaries, so little time.

Anonymous said...

This is what Twain warned us about when he wrote: A lie can travel half way around the world before the truth gets its boots on. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

I'm still interested to hear from the Pro-1240 machinators specifically what other states' laws were the reference points in drafting this "best law" for charters in Washington State.

You would think, if they were honest, that they would be able to cite chapter and verse of the sources, where in 1240 the sources provided influence and guidance, and how those specific tidbits of legislative lingo corresponded to better performing charter schools.

My take on this? I think that it's a smug public relations approach that they thought would be a good talking point. But until they can speak to the details around the drafting of the initiative I would categorize them as manipulative liars. Yes. Manipulative liars.

I look forward to them providing me the opportunity to apologize for calling them liars. Pants-on- fire liars.

Oompah

Anonymous said...

http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2012/10/30/what-charter-school-initiative-1240-means-for-capitol-hill-kids

Public School Parent

Charlie Mas said...

Purely a hypothetical...

If The NOVA Project decided to convert to a charter school, they could get a lot of community buy-in.

They already have the 80+% vote needed for a Creative Approach School. Getting 50+% for a charter shouldn't be any harder.

Their Alternative School Plan would give them a HUGE headstart on a charter application. In fact, it may satisfy all of the requirements.

They would get MORE funding as a charter school. Let's not forget that the District is seriously underfunding NOVA.

They would get to keep Meany if they wanted it and they would be in a position to negotiate whatever they wanted to move back to Mann.

More than that, the District has already committed a lot of money to both Meany and Mann in BEX IV and they might be held to that commitment.

I'm looking around and I see a pretty quick path to NOVA making a quick charter conversion, I don't see any downside for the school, and I see a lot of upside.

Just sayin'. Just a hypothetical.

Even if NOVA didn't choose to convert, they could use the threat of conversion to extort a lot of goodies from the District, starting with a fair budget allocation and a bigtime capital investment in the Mann building.

Yes on 1240 said...

So Happy 1240 did win you lost Westbrook lol

Anonymous said...

My ballot has been received, verified, but hasn't been counted according to ballot tracker. I voted no.

still waiting

Anonymous said...

carroadBoth my husband's and my ballots have been received and verified ...but our NO votes have not been counted yet. We are in King county

WV's commentary: UCkeyy

Solvay Girl

Anonymous said...

where are you seeing if you have been counted? when i look it says my ballot has been received and signature verified and i am credited as participating in the election, but does not say if my ballot has been counted yet or not.
-??

Charlie Mas said...

yes on 1240 is declaring victory.

Anonymous said...



Track your vote here :

https://kingcounty.everyonecounts.com/page/2073/3705

Public School Parent

Anonymous said...
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hschinske said...

Click on the "Ballot Tracker" link.

The message I got says this:

"We have received your ballot, your signature has been verified, and you will be credited with participating in this election.

Your returned ballot packet will soon be opened and your ballot will be prepared for counting." I.e., it hasn't been counted yet.

Helen Schinske

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

why do you keep removing my posts? i was signing them the same way i signed the posts above that were not removed?
-two question marks

cynic said...

> they could use the threat of conversion to extort a lot of goodies from the District

Would the District even notice? They don't seem to respond to external stimuli.

Melissa Westbrook said...

We need a name; you're not Prince. If I can't tell if it's signed, sorry, it's not signed.

Anonymous said...

Okay thanks-- I was confused because the one above signed the same way (Prince-like!!) wasn't, and still isn't, deleted. I thought somehow the content was bothering you and I could not understand why. At any rate, I had just mentioned that the last step that one can see is that "your ballot will be prepared for counting." But that is the final step you will ever see. They don't ever say "Your ballot HAS been counted.
--two question marks