Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Times and Their Charter School Push

The Times continues its march towards becoming less of a newspaper and more of an mouthpiece for ed reform.

Folks, I have personally heard from a number of Times' editors/writers who continue to claim that there is a solid wall between editorial and reporting.  That may be true in some areas but that is not true for education reporting especially on ed reform. 

What do they do?

- they lean the reporting towards ed reform, doing things like only getting a comment from an ed reform person and not anyone directed associated with the opposition.  This has happened several times.

- they mislead readers (see Lynne Varner saying that the Washington State Charter Schools Association will "review" the charter applications which would lead the average reader to believe the WSCSA will be the ones picking the winners.  They aren't - it's the Washington State Charter Commission (and the lone district authorizer, Spokane) who will decide but Varner doesn't mention them.  The Times is content to allow readers to believe that WSCSA is somehow the main player.  They aren't - they are just another Gates-funded group.

And, in today's piece by Linda Shaw, who is normally a good reporter, she does more of the same.  Her piece is about deciphering what the charter law ruling may mean. 

 She does provide some historical background about issues raised in the ruling like what Article IX in the state constitution - the section on public schools. 

But she then she conveniently explains how even if charters are not common schools, the Legislature has, in the past, changed the law and can change the definition of common schools.  That could be true but to change a major component of the state constitution would seem to me to be big and perhaps you'd need to really think about amending the constitution. 

Shaw also blithely says that "it's unclear how much it will matter if charters can't get money from the common school fund or state property taxes."  Well, considering that's where the money comes from to actually fund schools, I think it matters. 

She goes on to say, "Some say lawyers could just fund charters with sales taxes or business-and-occupational taxes instead."

Shades of Varner.  Lawyers are going to decide how to fund charters?  No, I think that would be the Legislature.  I'll wait for that correction to come. 

And is there some hidden pot of sales tax or B&O money the Legislature has hidden?  Because if not, then some OTHER program or service is going to lose money in order to fund charters. 

She does point out that Jude Rietchel cites a 1909 case where our state Supreme Court said that a teachers college could not get common school funds to run an elementary school because the elementary school would not be a "common school" nor was it "under the control of the qualified voters of the school district."

Yes, I recall those issues being some of the arguments against this particular initiative during the campaign.

Shaw goes out on a high note for charters, "No matter what Rietschel ruled, the Supreme Court may or may not agree."  

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