Saturday, November 10, 2012

Yes on 1240 Declares Victory

Update at 4:40 pm:  I still think the trend is not enough to say No to 1240 but it will end up being as close as it can be.  At this time the Yes has dropped to 50.78% and No is at 49.22%, a difference of 1.56% and less than 42K.  

From their press release:

After comprehensively reviewing ballot returns to date, The YES on 1240
Coalition announced today that Initiative 1240, the Washington Public Charter Schools
Initiative, will be approved by a majority of Washington voters. With over 2.6 million votes
counted, Initiative 1240 is leading with 51% of the vote. 


According to Washington state law, election results will be officially certified and Initiative 1240
will take effect on December 6th.  The initiative calls for members of the Washington State
Charter School Commission to be appointed within 90 days of the effective date of the law. 


This is to be expected.  What is really troubling is the "FAQ" they published (and let me just state that their previous FAQ on 1240 had 4 FAQs and no real info on 1240 so it's fascinating they wait until AFTER the election to publish any real info).

From this we glean:

The State Board of Education’s (SBE) role is to authorize school boards wishing to authorize quality public charter schools in their districts.

The SBE is also responsible for, among other things, overseeing the performance and effectiveness of the authorizers it approves; establishing the annual statewide timeline for charter school application submission and approval or denial; establishing an annual application and approval process and timelines for school boards seeking to become charter school authorizers; specifying the annual report timeline, content and format; and conducting special reviews where there is evidence of persistently unsatisfactory performance on the part of the authorizer.

The State Board of Education must develop, allow for public comment on, and adopt rules governing its role concerning public charter school implementation.

Did you see the Charter Commission in here anywhere?  Of course you didn't.

How long does the State Board of Education have to develop and adopt its rules?
By March 6, 2013 — 90 days from the election certification date of Dec. 6, 2012.

But here's the really big stuff:

The founding members of the Washington Coalition for Public Charter Schools are the League of Education Voters, Stand for Children, Democrats for Education Reform and the Partnership for Learning/Washington Roundtable. These founding Coalition members are convening a small implementation working group; bringing in national experts to discuss – with the founding Coalition members, the Commission, stakeholders from low-income communities and communities of color, and the State Board of Education – implementation lessons and technical assistance; engaging in discussions with state and national funders interested in supporting implementation; and leading ongoing advocacy and communication efforts.

What is disturbing here is that they are including the Commission.  Why would the Commission listen to any group more than any other group including taxpayers and parents?  And, it's okay to develop a coalition but read this thing - it does sound like people who believe they are now large and in charge.  They are NOT. 

Consideration is also being given to setting up a charter school incubator to help guide development and recruitment of charter school providers; provide technical assistance to potential applicants; build local supply of charter school leaders, educators, and boards; share parental engagement and involvement strategies; provide guidance and support to ensure charter-district collaboration; and provide best-practice information, resources and contacts to interested parties.  

That last paragraph?  Here's what they meant to say:

The Gates Foundation will be funding help to those charter groups that THEY want to come into the state.  

Yes, this is the beginning of the takeover of public education in Washington State.  Those last two paragraphs from the FAQs prove it.

No one on not on that list will be allowed in and most of those on the list are there as window-dressing. 

I plan on writing my state reps and telling them that this is not right.

27 comments:

seattle citizen said...

SBE should NOT be attending LEV's, uh, the Washington Coalition for Public Charter Schools' meetings. This is a clear conflict of interest, as SBE will be a neutral body overseeing ALL charters, and LEV, uh, WCPCS, represents only a few of the charterites and to attend their meeting could be prejudicial to SBE's work.
Furthermore, if DBE is invited, one would expect that these will be open meetings, as SBE is a government body.

seattle citizen said...

IF they end up winning, I suggest we get right on forming a Washington State Citizens' Charter School Watchdog group. A clearinghouse for reports, pro and con; an investigative agency; a citizen's representative at the table during discussions by SBE, the charter commission and others.
This should happen soon, as we know that WCPCS/LEV/A4E/OSC/Gates are already geared up and sitting at that table.
I would suggest that some politicos, including our new governor, would not be averse to recognizing that that a citizen oversight group should be seated at discussions along with the pro-charter rah-rah set.

mirmac1 said...

Oh Oh! Can I be a founding member of the "Give me millions of tax dollars" coalition? I'll meet with some of you and act like I care about what you want.

Watching said...

Seattle Citizen makes some good points. This group needs a citizen watchdog.

Melissa knows the initiative and the manner in which Gates, LEV, Stand etc. operates. She's been an excellent watchdog.

Melissa- I hope you consider this.

pixley said...

Wow. I was looking for information on the implementation of 1240. Reading this is starting to feel like there is a "conspiracy" lurking behind every corner. I keep doing the math: 40 schools -- even at a very generous 500 students per school is 20,000 -- against a statewide population of 1,000,000. It is a drop in the bucket. I just read that Los Angeles school district added 40 charters just last year. I just don't see the threat.

Anonymous said...

I got the email from LEV crowing about their victory. I replied that so far,neither my, nor my husband's NO votes had been counted.

Wonder how may other NOs are out their uncounted as of yet?

Solvay Girl

Watching said...

Pixley, Give it time. The national trend is to lift the cap off of charter schools. Gates et. al is a well oiled machine. Keep your eyes open, I'm sure we'll be seeing legislation aimed at fast forwarding the process.

Anonymous said...

Let's see if I understand this -

The "primary" authorizer of charter schools in Washington State is the Charter Commission. In addition, school districts can apply to the State Board of Education to be an authorizing body - I would assume a local school board could only authorize charters within it's district boundaries.

Here's the question - Can one or the other of the authorizing bodies veto the decision of the other body?

Oompah

Anonymous said...

"I just don't see the threat," said Neville Chamberlain, too.

A rapid-growth cottage industry is bought and paid for by an oligarch and people still say "I don't see the threat."

Astonishing. WSDWG

Melissa Westbrook said...

Pixley, if you don't understand it by now, I'm not going to explain it to you.

Oompah, to recap:
- local School Boards have to go thru a fairly thorough vetting process through BOE. This will cost them time and money to do this.

The Boards have to explain their authorizing process, following one section of the initiative. They also have to agree to any "training" that DOE wants to provide.

Yes, Boards can only authorize within their boundaries.

-The Charter Commission members, on the other hand, are just vetted by the Governor, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate (Inslee, Chopp and likely to be Murray).

Once the members are seated they DO NOT have to follow the same process to set up their authorization as Boards. The initiative does NOT explain HOW the Commission will vet applications or what criteria THEY will use.

There is a single sentence in the initiative saying the Charter Commission does not have to follow sections 209 and 212.

Broadly,

- a charter applicant can only apply to one authorizer at a a time.

- No authorizer can veto another's choice but the DOE may.

Also, understand that any authorizer can contract out their chartering duties to "employees or contractors." Meaning, district employees can be used to do the work for School Boards OR for-profit contractors can be hired to do the work. The money to pay them would come from the authorizer fee allowed each authorizer to do their work.

Also, to understand, it was stated, over and over, that there has to be an annual report of each charter. That report is NOT done by the charter but by its authorizer.

One key passage:

"Neither an authorizer, individuals who comprise the membership of an authorizer in their official capacity, nor the employees of an authorizer are liable for acts or omissions of a charter school they authorize."

So understand, that you clearly cannot go to either the Charter Commission or your local school board - whoever authorized the charter in your district - if there are issues.

Also that Section 212 that the Charter Commission doesn't have to operate under?

"the BOE can take away authorizing from any school board but not the Charter Commission due to failure of the school board to do its duties."

The Charter Commission will be making up its own rules about criteria for charters and is untouchable under this initiative. There is nothing in here about removing a member or oversight by any of the elected officials who picked them in the first place.

Anonymous said...

So do charter school commission members receive a salary?

-- Dan Dempsey

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, Dan, no salary but they do get some kind of reimbursement for travel (as some may be in far-flung parts of the state). They also have a staff housed in the Governor's office and that's where the $600K per year costs come in from the fiscal note.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

The State Board of Education Math Advisory Panel had the same arrangement for members reimbursement and teachers had their substitutes paid for..... until the Panel stopped meeting due to budget shortfall even though the panel was still in existence on paper.

I am still wondering how the NEWS lawsuit and continued under funding of k-12 education will be viewed by the WA Supreme Court.....

Continued under funding can hardly be viewed as progress by the Court (but perhaps the court is not looking).

At the time of the orginal Supreme Court decision upholding the McCleary vs. State decision ... the Court stated that the Legislature had a plan in place to provide funding for an ample education for all students. ..... Unfortunately a close inspection of that plan revealed it had done essentially ZERO (in 2 years) at the time of the court's ruling.

So now we have the State dumping money into the unproven Common Core State Standards as well as the coming charter school boondoggle.....

More on Common Core controversy here =>

http://jaypgreene.com/2012/11/09/hoosier-fiasco-a-wakeup-call-to-both-sides-of-common-core-debate/

See Jay Greene's comment on Nov. 9 at 4:49 PM

===========
It seems if the Gate's Foundation pushes it..... it happens. .... Irrational and/or unproven or not.

-- Dan Dempsey

Charlie Mas said...

pixley wrote: "I just don't see the threat."

First, I don't think "threat" is really the word that people opposing the charter school initiative would use. The proponents keep talking about "what are they afraid of" when no one is afraid of anything. It's not about fear and it's not about threats. Who ever said that it was?

Second, using numbers to diminish the importance of this decision is the same that people say that not allowing abortions for pregnancies that result from rape or incest is not a big deal because there are so few of them. It's not about numbers.

It's about what's right and what's wrong. It's about retaining public assets under public control. It's about the role of government in partnership with private interests. It's about investing in education reforms that have proven effective for children versus investing in education reforms that have proven profitable for corporate interests.

Charlie Mas said...

Oompah asked: "Can one or the other of the authorizing bodies veto the decision of the other body?"

No.

If a school district approves a charter application that application goes to the State Board of Education and no one else can reject it.

School districts can only authorize charters within their own boundaries.

If the state commission authorizes a charter, the local school board cannot veto it. That approved application goes the State Board as well.

The State Board does not review the applications. They only order them for final approval to assure that the annual limit on charter schools is not exceeded.

Someone said...

Since the SBE is not something I've personally spent much time looking at - just want to look at it's make up - interesting. Here's the most recent list and bio details of all members (PDF file)
State Board of Education Members

We Need Melissa On This said...

I agree with the thought that the word "threat" might be overblown.

Especially as this relates to charter schools and their place in our public school system.

Pixie is right to point out the relative numbers of students that would be impacted.

However, Charlie is correct to point out that what is really important is the rip in our State Constitutional fabric. While the rip might be small now, it will grow and what will we be left with?

Constitutions should be sacrosanct and all citizens need to jealously guard against tears in their fabric.

Of all the things happening in this state right now, the momentous change that this could bring to our public education system is the most momentous. More so than BEX, the Levy, even, dare I say it, the policies being implemented and often ignored by our school board.

For this reason, I would urge Melissa to suspend her actions on this blog and to create a new blog that focus solely on the ed reform movement in general and the charter school actions in this state in particular.

Melissa has the background, knowledge and connections to do this. The Times can't and won't. People like Diane Ravich won't be able to focus on our particular state issues.

Please Melissa, its a new day and time for a new blog.

kgroth said...

I calculated what it would take for the Charter Schools initiative to not pass. It would require that 58% of all the remaining uncounted ballots voted No to Initiative 1240. That seems statistically unlikely since only Garfield county had a No vote of 58%. Also, 5% people who submitted ballots didn't vote Yes or No to I-1240. The rest of the WA counties either are trending as a Yes vote or have a No vote less than 58%. That's why the initiative backers claimed victory.

I am a new Seattle Schools parent and I think this initiative is passing since our state is not meeting the constitutional requirement to adequately educate our children. There are many families fed up and unhappy with District administration and want out of a seemingly broken system and see hope in charter schools. They are also taking a risk since there are a lot of unknowns with charter schools which is why it's only barely passing.

My daughter attends a wonderful school, Pinehurst K-8, with a 40+ year history of serving children better suited for an alternative teaching model. It has been threatened with closure for the 4th time in the last 7 years which of course affected enrollment. No wonder we have parents considering converting our school to a charter school so we can focus on teaching our kids and serving our community instead of focusing on District politics and school closures.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Uh, Kgroth, you do know that our state has not been fully-funding our existing schools..for decades? And the Supreme Court just said that this summer?

And you can imagine what decades of underfunding and budget cuts (in the last few years) would have done to districts?

And you want to lay this all at the feet of districts?

Yes, voters are taking a risk especially with an initiative fraught with problems. But it comes back to, be careful what you wish for.

And good luck with that conversion thing. This is NOT about grassroots, community schools and you'll find that out soon enough.

Watching said...

kgroth,

Get in touch with Director Marty McLaren regarding your concerns with Pinehurst. Director McLaren is aware and sympathetic to a school that has achieved so much.

You are lucky to have a director to go to. Charter schools would not provide you with that option.

seattle citizen said...

Well put, Watching.

THIS is the main problem with charters: We taxpayers or parent/guardians of students in them have no one to talk to except the charters themselves (or the what must, by 1240, be a pro-charter state charter board.)

They get our money, we get...a blank wall and no recourse.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to waste my breath - by a completely random whatever, we've been watching season 4 of The Wire.

The Key Players of ed deform - the head liars spinning orwellian fantasies and their head lackeys spreading the spin du jour, and the main toadies of the lackeys - the Key Players of ed deform are playing hardball politics. See The Wire for how to play hardball.

I've got no problem with people who look at hardball and say they're not going to do that kind of hardball stuff. If hardball isn't your style, it is more important that you participate than you stay on the sidelines doing nothing, so, do something!

However, just as you non hardball players won't help hardball types - don't expect me to spend MY time on stuff which I'm not comfortable with, because, I think it is too often a fantasy land waste of time!

For those who are interested in hardball (pst! peaceful and legal hardball, btw) - how do we connect?

I think discussing the nuance of policy with Those People, the Key Players - I think it is playing their game on their terms. I think WHO they are, at their cores, needs incessant public airing. They're well paid rich man sycophants ripping off the community & they're living better than 4 out 5 of 9 out of 10 fellow citizens with the Walton-Gate$ paycheck$ - cuz -

it isn't about the kids and isn't about the schools, it is about being another Wendy Kopp Kipp Kryme Syndicate.

InterestedInHardball?

Anonymous said...

-pixley -

here's the "threat"

In the 2010-2011 school year, state funding was $6471 per pupil.

Let's look at "only" 20,000 students.

$6,471 x 20,000 = $129,420,000

That is how much money will be siphoned out of public schools each year using your projection of the 40 schools with an average student population of 500.

Now imagine what that number will be if the Legislature responds to the McCleary decision.

Oompah

Melissa Westbrook said...

Hardball, you are right.

kgroth said...

My Mom is a Seattle Schools Teacher and she along with all other teachers I spoke with are against Charter Schools. Though they all say the same thing, that the District Administration is too bloated, with many expensive experts, and not enough money flows down to the classrooms. So if they reduced their administrative budget, we wouldn't need to ask voters for mega levies to fund basic school needs. Given the environment we're in, I do support the levies since we need to take care of our kids.

The argument against charter schools is the same argument we hear against alternative and/or choice schools. They are too expensive and draw money from traditional schools. Though we need to recognize that not all our kids are served well by traditional schools so sometimes we need an alternative, even if a bit more expensive. If the District takes away our choices by closing alternative schools such as Pinehurst K-8, and previously they closed Summit K-12, then charter schools becomes a choice that some parents support. If Pinehurst K-8 is preserved then our parents would be unlikely to try to convert it to a charter school. In fact many parents I spoke with were against charter schools until Jose Banda's memo on Oct. 9th that would close our school without any discussion from the District.

@Watcher - We did get in touch with Director Marty McLaren and did not find her email to us sympathetic. Instead of supporting our program she suggested we dissolve and merge with Jane Addams which is a traditional choice school with an environmental focus.

So we are focusing on our Director Sharon Peaslee and plan to attend her community meeting this evening. Yes, I agree it's great we have a Board Director and I prefer we stay in the District. Though if Pinehurst K-8 is to be dissolved, I rather we exist as a charter school than not exist at all.

I'm not trying to convince anyone to change their mind on charter schools. I just want to share why I think some parents, or over 50% of voters, voted for charter schools.

Anonymous said...

Melissa at 8:57,
As soon as my comment was posted, I thought 'Ooops!'

The work You and Charlie and Dora and Suep and countless others have done detailing, clause by clause, the mistakes and the slips and lies - that work is critical.

I also don't think it is enough.

I think when you step away from the Queen Annes and Wedgewoods and Capitol Hills & dig around in data on personal income and family income and household income, you see that those tens of thousands of relatively modest homes (to trump and gates and walton) in the nicer hoods are homes of the top 10% and 20% - and those of us with too much experience in the bottom 50 and 80 and 90% have been betrayed, decade after decade, by the well connected and relatively well paid minions living in the good 'hoods.

IF we in the bottom 80 and 90 are willing to be serfs and doormats so the relatively affluent minions can live good keeping gate$ and walton happy, so be it. I honestly don't think that the majority of us bottom feeding 80 and 90% of know how much better the minions have it ...

I want full disclosure and an opt-out for supporting Kopp-Kipp Rackets.

HardballAgain

Jan said...

kgroth has a good point, at least with respect to Pinehurst.

I don't support charter schools for a number of reasons:
1. Lack of sufficient accountability (both in terms of financial stuff and education stuff -- how kids are treated, how admissions are run, how public facilities are used, etc.); and
2. They are a "cover" for an attempt by Big Ed to take over tax dollars for private (shareholder) gain -- under the guise of being "for" educating students. Clearly, if they had been worried about what was best for kids, and if they had been genuinely interested in community involvement, parental voice, etc. this bill would have been written very differently. This IS all about money.

But -- I have long thought that -- if you could "keep them" under the general umbrella/governance/financial structure of the District -- certain schools (including Pinehurst, NOVA, Middle College High School, etc. might be much better off getting some "distance" from the kinds of "administrative oversight" that the District has provided -- which has included threats of being shut down, irrational program movement, and the hassles of "not fitting" inside a bunch of bureaucratic boxes.

This is a dreadful law, and I wish it would go away altogether. But if it stays, I would love to see it turned into something good -- something that allows schools like WSHS to keep block class schedules, that allows NOVA to not be moved (and moved back again) and Pinehurst not to be threatened with closure every year.

The thing that drives me most nuts is not how bad this bill is. It is that when you think of what could be accomplished if corporate America really wanted to HELP (and not just take over, and profit from) public education -- there is so much good that could come of collaborating.