Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tuesday Open Thread

Three years since the Sandy Hook shootings.

The SEA, at their representative assembly last night, voted in a resolution in support of Middle College High School (MCHS) for its almost 25 years of serving students of color who are disenfranchised or in crisis.  They note that this means that six teachers of color have been administratively displace or removed from their positions.

State that SEA’s position is that the historical focus of the MCHS program and curriculum on social justice and critical pedagogy at all sites must be maintained. We believe failure to do so would contradict the focus on equity agreed to by both SEA and the district during the recent contract negotiations;

Los Angeles schools were shut down today over an electronic terror threat relating to backpacks and was directed at schools themselves (not places like buses.)

  The Seattle Times continues its turn towards less reporting in their education news stories to fit their editorial side.  Here are two examples.

One, they finally have a story about First Place Scholars closing as a charter school.  That happened Friday and it took them until Monday to report that the first charter school in Washington State was closing as a charter?   In fact, the focus of the article was more about the principal, Dr. Linda Whitehead, being forced out.

What haven't they written about?  Well, there's the issue of all these ads - both mail and tv - in support of charter schools.  Who paid for these? Don't know but probably the Washington State Charter Schools Association via their big-pockets Gates money because I'm fairly certain that buying local tv time during Sunday football games is not cheap.

Nothing about how Superintendent Dorn is twisting the ALE regulations for these students (and boy, I hope all districts take note because what he is doing will financially benefit Mary Walker School District and why can't other districts have these benefits as well?)

As well, they have a story about how the City's pre-k program is "meeting its diversity goals."  That's great but fail to note that two out of the three classrooms in Seattle Schools are way underenrolled.  Not a peep.

But I was at a political holiday party this weekend and had a chat with Mayor Murray.  I'll have a longer thread on some of what he said but when I brought up this issue of the underenrolled classrooms he said, "They're in bad locations." 

And then the Times has this quote:

"We really hope the school district will step in and provide significantly more classrooms," said city councilman Tim Burgess, one of the preschool program's chief advocates."

He "really" does? Parents, what section of your school can you give up?  Because Councilman Burgess thinks that the district has the space, resources and time to do this. 

Another Republican presidential candidate debate tonight - cross your fingers that public education even gets mentioned.

More Star Wars on my mind - the annual gingerbread house display at the Sheraton downtown is Star Wars-themed this year.  The Stranger has a whole list of activities around town.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

We really hope the school district will step in and provide significantly more classrooms," said city councilman Tim Burgess, one of the preschool program's chief advocates."

Wow, oh wow. Talk about clueless in Seattle.

-North-end Mom

OY said...

Clarification Needed: Who is providing grant funding- private entities or the Washington State Charter Schools Association.

"First Place, a school with students in kindergarten through fifth grade, said it received a grant to stay open for the rest of the school year without state funds or disruption to its 106 students."

"The Washington State Charter Schools Association has committed up to $800,000 to keep First Place open through the 2015-16 school year, though it hasn’t paid any grant funds yet, according to the association."

I'm curious to know if the Washington State Charter Association will provide funding for remaining charter schools to stay open? Worth noting: charter schools in Washington State are non-existent.


Melissa Westbrook said...

OY, my understanding is that the WSCSA was helping First Place stay open as a charter because they didn't want to go the ALE route. The stipulation for the grant was that they stay open as a K-5 charter school. FPS is going private so I don't know if WSCSA is giving them dollars thru December or what.

Where WSCSA gets its dollars is unclear but they are,of course, funded by the Gates Foundation.

North-end Mom, let's add myopic and selfish.

ConcernedSPSParent said...

It seems Mr. Burgess is completely out of touch with the capacity issues faced by SPS. Why does he think playgrounds are being paved with portables?

Anonymous said...

This is why I voted for Jon Grant instead of Burgess.


Anonymous said...

Summit Sierra is now the only remaining Seattle charter school, with First Place going back to private. It looks as though they are planning to stay in business. They have posted open house tour dates in the first couple months of 2016.

Also what happened with the First Place principal? Wasn't she brought in because the other one didn't work out? Her quote in the Seattle Times was very strange as were the details of her and the board's noncommunication.

I feel sorry for First Place in many ways and I hope they make a go of it as private. It's not as though Seattle Schools have done better in serving homeless or special needs or trauma impacted students.


CascadiaMom said...

I just called Tim Burgess' office and described to the staffer the overcrowding in Seattle Public Schools. I invited him to visit a school during lunch when students get between 11-14 minutes to eat, or during recess, or to try to go to the bathroom. mentioned the portables sucking up playground space at Adams in Ballard. I informed the staffer that this was not a capacity problem limited to one school, that it was throughout elementary schools, and I said that Tim sounded very ignorant saying that he thought SPS could magically make preschool classrooms appear from thin air. His staffer seemed interested. If anyone else wants to call, the number is 206-684-8806.

Give a call - it was fun to vent about school overcrowding.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good for you, Cascadia Mom. He needs to hear this (as does the Mayor.)

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, you write that "where WSCSA gets its dollars is unclear but they are, of course, funded by the Gates Foundation." You've also asked who pays for the expensive charter ads. Well, you answered your own question. At the risk of being redundant, here again is a list of Gates grants that are associated with WA charters, 2013-2015. At bottom are a couple of Walton grants, including $850,000 to WSCSA.The total to WSCSA from this list is $11,400,000. The entire list totals over $53,000,000.
Keep in mind that I only culled for easily-identified WA charter grants; other grants I might have missed, including national or other regional orgs that might then feed money back into the WA charter push.

That's a lot of money, 53 million...For nine schools. Note the various expenditures to some odd players - What is a "Charter Board" org, for instance?
The list:
Summit Schools - to provide support to Summit Schools, CREATE [caps mine] Summit Washington and LAUNCH two charter 9-12s and one charter 6-12 - $8,000,000

Pacific Charter School Development, Inc - to support facility needs of WA charters -$4,000,000

Washington State Charter Assoc.- to support charters in WA - $6,350,000 (2014)

WSCSA - to build capacity for charters $4,200,000 (2013)

Puget Sound Educational Service District - consult on SpEd in charters - $250,000

PSESD - to support the development and implementation of and to provide back office support and operations support services for WA charters - $200,000

Craft3, Ilwaco WA (?!) - to support charter school facility development for low income children - $2,000,000

Washington Charter School Development, Inc, Seattle - to support the facility needs of charters in WA - $19,813,088

Spokane School District - build capacity to serve charters - $525,000

UW Foundation - to provide support for district/charter compacts - $1,900,000

Seneca Family of Agencies WA - to provide SpEd services to charters - $750,000

Seneca Family of Agencies WA - to develop integrated systems of support for at-risk students in WA charter schools - $200,000

Charter Board Partners - support expansion of their work in WA - $750,000

Charter Board Partners - to expand into WA - $500,000

League of Education Voters - to support the formation of an independent [cough] WA charter school organization (2013) - $800,000

LEV - To support a public awareness campaign and create support for WA charters (2011) - $1,800,000

UW Center for Reinventing Public Education - to provide oversight of district/charter collaboration compacts (2011) $600,000

Washington State Charter Assoc. 2014 - $850,000

League of Education Voters 2013 - $250,000

UW Center for Reinventing Public Education 2012 - $750,000

Anonymous said...

The NRA is losing it:

Thinking Canada

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I'm expecting that you'll delete SC's post above for the long list. You've repeated said no lists.

--- aka

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

Here are some direct quotes from the SPS HCC blog regarding limiting appeals
on entrance (from a 11/6/2015 thread):

"Instead of appeals, there's test prep. There's more than one way to
game the system."

"I've been told centers like http://hiscorelearning.com are fairly
popular in Bellevue."

"I expect that's a direct response to Bellevue's no-appeal policy. It would
be easier to order CogAT review books from Amazon."

"Email the members of the members of the Curriculum and Instruction committee
and this is on the agenda."

"Done. I wasn't sure exactly who is on the Curriculum and Instruction committee
so I sent to Nyland, Tolley, Stephen Martin, and the board."

We have been discussing equity in HCC and the lack of diversity. This comment
thread speaks volumes.

--about time

Anonymous said...

Correction: "Email the members of the Curriculum and Instruction
Committee. They're meeting this afternoon and this is on the

--about time

Anonymous said...

Those people are shameless.


Lynn said...

about time - you missed a few. It's almost as if you have an agenda of your own:

AnonymousNovember 6, 2015 at 4:26 PM
The new appeals policy is radically changed.

This policy discriminates against a huge range of students, including those who may test differently in a group vs. individually, those with illness or other challenges on test day, even those with IEPs or 504s who have not yet jumped through the hoops to access accommodations in test situations. This is NOT at all EQUITABLE. Parents, please, don't let this happen. Appeals through private testing are essential to students who cannot perform in large, chaotic, one-chance-only group cafeteria settings. Sick on test day? Too bad. Chronic medical problem flares up? Huh. Your parents or guardian didn't have breakfast for you this morning or got you to the test site late? Oh well. The bully you face every day is sitting next to you for testing? Buck up. This is your one chance, use it or lose it.

The district has always offered free appeals testing for FRL students. This should continue and be expanded. The district should not be shutting out yet further students from highly capable programs due to limits on appeals.

- stop this

AnonymousNovember 6, 2015 at 4:39 PM

I am shocked that the district will no longer pay for FRL appeals. If true, this is a new low for SPS. Why is Nyland getting a raise?


AnonymousNovember 6, 2015 at 4:57 PM
I guess I would start by asking, "What problem are they trying to solve" by changing the appeals process, and by changing it in a way that appears designed to reduce appeals.

What percent of appeals are successful? And what percent of students get in on appeals, and, how do they perform compared to students who don't appeal? Having a large number of successful appeals isn't prima facie evidence of a problem with the students - it might be evidence of problems with the district's group testing!

If there is evidence that the current appeals process doesn't serve students and their families well (ie, by letting in children who don't do well in HCC), then let's see that evidence.

If so few appeals are successful that significant staff time is wasted sorting through a mountain of appeals that lack merit, then let's see that evidence.

If this is just a way to reduce staff workload and manage capacity that will ultimately deny children an appropriate academic placement, that is a wholly different issue, and one that I would fight vigorously.

As is, it's impossible to judge whether the change is warranted or appropriate. So, again, I ask what is the problem they are trying to solve?


Lynn said...


CapHill momNovember 7, 2015 at 10:30 AM
Totally agree with Puzzled that it it isn't clear what problem(s) the district is trying to solve by limiting private-testing appeals and also not funding appeals for lower-income families.

All I could come up with is:
1. Reduce the number of kids in HCC? I assume this is a goal because fewer HCC kids over time reduces the district's legal/financial requirements to provide a specialized education for this population
2. Push families and kids to take the SBAC rather than opt out? Unquestionably a district goal and, IMO, a nasty and manipulative way to do it.
3. Ensure that kids who qualify as HCC from an academic standpoint ALSO are good test takers in a crowded room filled with fidgety strangers? Viewed charitably, perhaps someone in SPS HQ wants to prepare kids early for the SAT or GRE experience?
4. Increase economic and racial diversity in HCC by.... narrowing the pipeline for kids to be admitted? I expect this is the primary or secondary goal, but "the solution" makes no rational sense - if fewer kids are admitted under these criteria, then it becomes even more likely that HCC will be filled with the best-prepared test takers.

It seems that the district's view is that unless everybody can do private testing, then no one should - that is a political argument but not an academically sound one in terms of creating an equitable opportunity for all students to succeed in the Seattle Public Schools. Studies of academic achievement consistently show the relevance of family income, the number of books in the home, etc, to prepare kids for starting school. Families, schools and society have a tough job overcoming that reality. However, limiting HCC to stellar test takers doesn't put a dent in that problem either.

So here are some ideas that are not mutually exclusive: invest more in specialized education for underachieving kids, have teachers do more to identify high-performing, lower-income kids who could benefit from Spectrum or HCC, and also create a more personal testing environment so kids can be treated as individuals, which is the real benefit of private testing.

November 7, 2015 at 5:06 PM
I think these changes plus the switch to the SBAC in 3rd grade and the use of the state norms to determine eligibility will tend to raise the bar on who is admitted into HCC.

I suspect it will make the number of students admitted smaller, but essentially at random (well, it won't be random overall, but random as regards their actual level of accomplishment). I don't think the bar will necessarily be raised at all.
AnonymousNovember 9, 2015 at 12:48 PM
For those worried that the appeals process is only letting in the lower-scoring kids, both of my APP kids got in on appeal, and they are both 99% on achievement and 99.7 and 99.9% on IQ. I would not be able to appeal the COGAT under the proposed changes, since neither was sick on testing day and no scoring mistakes were made. They were just squirmy 5-year olds who were easily distracted in the group testing. If we had kept them in their neighborhood school for 1st grade so we could try the test again the next year, everyone would have been miserable. Kindergarten was a disaster for both of them- they were bored to tears and were developing behavior problems. While not perfect, getting them into APP has had a hugely positive effect on them.

Anonymous said...

Well that's not exactly cool. I was on the other side of that debate, but they are just discussing how to advocate for something they believe is good. If you honestly believe appeals just help kids who are especially vulnerable get necessary services (like borderline ADHD/behavioral problem so have trouble with the group test setting), shouldn't you try to figure out how to advocate for it? What if getting rid of appeals just means fewer children with behavioral problems can access the program and doesn't change the demographics otherwise at all? That is what people are doing above. The mention of test prep centers is not because anyone is using them so far, but because the fear is that without appeals, the even less democratic business of test prep will boom.

I think I would be happy for appeals to go away, but because there is obviously a cost in terms of students who will not receive services, we should look at some data to be sure. It should be very easy to collect demographic data on appeals, and perhaps follow up. Right now AL does not have any data, so I sincerely, sincerely hope they are collecting some this year.


Lynn said...


What kind of demographic data do you think they should look at? Clearly most poor families can't afford private testing. Does that mean children who appeal with private test results don't need HC services? The goal should be to find all the students who need them - so identifying more children rather than fewer. (Unless there is evidence that appeals bring kids into the program who eventually need to be counseled out.)

Anonymous said...

That is the evidence I am looking for- future performance(which should be exceeding easy to get), as well as racial demographics. Income if in any way available(maybe even just zip codes could tell us something), but it may not be. I agree that this could limit services for kids who need them, so I am only willing to go along if there is a clear benefit to the program. Which we should be able to see from pretty easy data tracking, but for some reason the district is not doing it. This is what I wrote on the thread about time/enough already cherry picked from:

"I am loath to become the anti-appeal poster, because I agree with all the problems mentioned for shutting down appeals. But I don't agree there are no problems this could solve. The problems it might solve are:

1) improve demographics. I suspect that the demographics of kids who get in on appeal are generally richer and less racially diverse, which means we are giving richer, whiter kids a "double shot." However this is provable, so maybe the district should tell us. It's also never a "one shot" deal. One shot a year. If you have an off day, you can try again the next year.

2) Free up resources for- *gasp*- an advanced learning curriculum. IMO, this is worth it, if true. Who cares if we get all the kids if there's no THERE there to the program. Middle school LA is particularly week, in our experience. But I am not sure it's true. Do appeals really take time? Don't they just have to look at the scores sent in, see if it is an approved provider, and say yes or no? Even if this is 500...how hard can it be?

3) Change the make up of the schools, especially at elementary level. In our time in APP, specialists have gone from being people who pulled out kids who were advanced for extra enrichment to people at the school who nearly exclusively pull out kids who are behind. This is a tremendous loss. I think APP should be the one place in the whole district that concerns itself with kids who are ahead(even if it never was perfect, of course). Of course, I don't have evidence that the make up of kids who get in on appeal is any different than the kids who do not. The district has this information, and the schools know who is getting pulled out. And this may not be what caused it at all- equally plausible is kids who previously qualified but were not so accelerated, and would have been challenged enough at their home schools, no longer stay in them. So they come to APP and are behind in a subject or two not because of anything to do with appeals but because advanced learning at schools has been dismantled during this time so that APP is the only option for most people. If my two options were a little too much or nothing at all, I'd pick a little too much, too.

Requiring participation in district achievement testing is blackmail, IMO. Horrible. And I am not sure kosher given that this is a basic education service.



Anonymous said...

Just because they are posted on the HCC Blog doesn't mean they are HCC parents. Most likely just AT/MC etc. just stirring the pot.

-who cares

Taylor Maid said...

Another "pot stirrer"?

Anonymous DJ said...


I have a kid at Lincoln. Mark's comments are absolutely correct. There may be some splitting of hairs over Mark's use of the word "uncertified" provider, but after 5 years in APP and more combined years in SPS, I know MANY parents who have gotten their kid into Lincoln after many private tests. In some cases, I guess the 6th or 8th test was the charm. A kid in my child's class was privately tested 6 times between Kindergarten and 1st grade - entered Lincoln in 2nd grade. Why the parent would tell us this, I don't know! The child is now in 5th and still holds the class up. There are many stories like this. There are also many stories where a child should definitely be in APP, but the school administered test didn't qualify them. Maybe they missed it by one point, maybe the test-giver's instructions were bad. Whatever the case, I assume those kids only test once privately not 6 or 7 or however many required to get the "score". This happens quite a bit with younger siblings since parents want them at the same school understandably.

Personally, I don't see that much challenge at Lincoln. This is our 5th year. I think people should be able to self-select into APP and then there needs to be an exit plan or some sort of annual review. The teachers need to be able to exit some children out if they hold up the class. There should be an exit plan regardless of admission criteria. This once you're in, you're in forever thing is crazy. Admissions should also be 100% age-normed not a blend of age and grade normed. There are kids at Lincoln 14 months older than my summer birthday child who started on time (meaning kids born in April were held back). If your kid enters K at 6-1/4 years old and is bored in Kindergarten class, that doesn't necessarily make them "gifted". This red-shirting causes huge issues. Of course, there are cases that make sense.

October 1, 2015 at 11:26 AM

NO 1240 said...

We know that former Charter Commissioner Kevin Jacka is the Superintendent of Mary Walker School District in eastern Washington. Mary Walker School district is a very small district of about 500 students. Attempts are being made to incorporate charter schools, under the umbrella of ALE, into Jacka's school district.

The State Superintendent of Education- Randy Dorn- is manipulating rules to accommodate charter schools. He is bending ALE rules/regulations that involve Choice Transfer and Finance. Who is working to make sure Dorn is acting within the scope of his authority?

It should be noted that charter schools have been declared unconstitutional and children are still within the walls of these buildings. NO ONE is responsible for the oversight of these children- not OSPI or the Charter Commission. If those pushing charter schools had any decency, they would encourage parents to put their children in schools with elected oversight. Instead, they continue to find a solution via ALE or the legislature.

Note: There is NO timeline for existing charter schools to become ALE.


Anonymous said...

FYI only

North Thurston Superintendent Raj Manhas announces retirement


Anonymous said...

And, NO 1240, if you had any decency, you'd leave these charter school children and their families alone.

--- aka

Melissa Westbrook said...

AKA, these are public schools and public dollars. We absolutely have a right to ask questions. Dorn is bending rules for these students and their schools (as I have previously outlined.) Chad Magendanz is promising to hold McCleary hostage for these schools.

This has nothing to do with decency (except in Magendanz case where apparently he has very little considering the numbers of public school students waiting for McCleary dollars).

It has everything to do with the rule of law.

Melissa Westbrook said...

From Reader 47's article on Manhas:

"Under his watch, North Thurston has passed two levies, and a $175 million construction bond. In addition, the district’s ending fund balance has grown from $3.2 million in 2008 to nearly $16.53 million, according to a financial report shared during Tuesday’s School Board meeting."

I'd love to interview him and ask him about the differences between SPS and North Thurston because this outcome is quite different from the one when he left SPS. (Not to say that he left SPS in a sorry state but he certainly shows here that he could get things done.)

No 1240 said...

Oh, aka, I have plenty of decency...;)

The Washington State Charter Association and private entities have every opportunity to fund existing and unconstitutional charter schools. There is No reason tens of millions of public dollars should flow into a small school district to fund unconstitutional schools.

There is plenty of reason to question the Mary Walker School District and the use of ALE dollars.

It should be noted that the legislature acknowledges poor oversight of ALE dollars and there have been legislative attempts to fix this issue.

The public should have an opportunity to scrutinize Dorn's relaxation of rules related to transfer and finance.

We're getting an opportunity to watch the privatizers, the manner they work, and attempt to play fast and loose.

seattle citizen said...

No 1240, apparently anyone who questions charters just isn't "for the kids." I got the same sort of line from aka; I think it's in the Gates Foundation Charter Messaging Playbook. aka wrote, about my comment on another thread, "I don't find any of them to be unnecessary nor a distraction. Shame on you for thinking otherwise."

I guess we're indecently shameful for questioning charters; we just aren't in it "for the kids!"
; )

Anonymous said...

You're clearly not in it for these kids. ;-)

I can't say for sure what you're in it for. But it does seem to me that your lines come straight from Diane Ravitch/NEA/AFT Messaging Playbook.

And to answer No 1240, there are 1,000 reasons (or 1,100 reasons or 900 reasons) for MWSD to step up to the plate.

--- aka

Eric B said...

AKA, MWSD is not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. They aren't doing this for the kids in charter schools. It's arguable whether they're even doing it for their kids. The most charitable motive they have is that they increase their own enrollment and possibly get some extra resources for their students. The most cynical motive is that they are in it for a money grab. The truth is probably somewhere between.

There is no earthly reason why a school district would triple the size of their district with students 200+ miles away just to save those kids from the cruel fate of Gates et al having to fund their schools for the next year. It just doesn't pass the smell test.

No 1240 said...

I don't have a problem with existing charter schools being open, but they should not be kept open with public dollars. The Washington State Charter Association and their philanthropic supporters have deep pockets.

One should question the expenditure of tens of millions of public dollars and the manner in which Dorn is playing fast and loose.

We're watching big dollars pay for tv ads, campaigns etc. Yet, they fail to mention that charter schools are unconstitutional. We're watching efforts to privatize our education system hook or crook. If the privatizers have their way, this will be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to lawlessness and questionable tactics that involve public dollars. I will no longer engage with you, but will hang my head in shame with Seattle Citizen...:)

seattle citizen said...

aka, I've been in it for ALL students for over 20 years. Volunteered countless...countless hours in schools and for the district. Hundreds of hours working to make education better for ALL students, with a special focus on race and equity issues. Don't tell me I'm not in it for the kids.
And here you come, charters, claiming some magic bullet (which you won't share) that purportedly would help OUR students, only charters don't want to be accountable to boards or taxpayers. They just want our money.
My LIFE is "doing it for the kids", and to call me "shameful" for daring to state, based on years of experience, that charters are unnecessary and a distraction is to trot out the tiredest of tired debate tactics: attempting to appeal to emotions using groundless slanders about your opponent.
Nice try, but everyone who knows me knows how long and how hard and at what cost I've been working for kids in public schools.

No 1240 said...

No one has even begun to discuss the complexities of a public school providing funding for a charter school; a school that does not need to comply with many state laws.

No problem. I'll just go and hang my head in shame...;)

seattle citizen said...

Oh, I forgot to note aka's OTHER tired tactic (aside from personal slanders regarding how I should be "ashamed"): it's the union! Damned union...NEA/AFT...Unions are the problem with public schools! Anyone against charters MUST be a union shill!
Got it, aka: all opposition to charters (including a majority of WA voters in three elections on the matter) are mouthing union soundbites. Right. And they be ashamed for questioning charters because....because...1100 KIDS! It's for the 1100 KIDS! It's the UNION that makes us question charters while we work for the million public school students.

No1240 said...

These are the laws that allow for district transfers:

A district shall release a student to a nonresident district that agrees to accept the student if:(a) A financial, educational, safety, or health condition affecting the student would likely be reasonably improved as a result of the transfer; or
(b) Attendance at the school in the nonresident district is more accessible to the parent’s place of work or to the location of child care; or
(c) There is a special hardship or detrimental condition; or
(d) The purpose of the transfer is for the student to enroll in an online course or online school program offered by an online provider approved under RCW 28A.250.020.

Let's not follow the law, I guess.

Melissa Westbrook said...

No on 1240, I think this is a hardship condition. These students (and their parents) were not fully apprised by those whose desire for charters did not allow them to tell prospective parents the truth about the situation these families were entering into. To this day, I still have found no evidence that any school did anything to tell parents the full truth about the lawsuit and ALL the possible outcomes.

So when the families were hurt and shocked by this outcome, I'm not surprised. I truly feel for them.

Then the reconsideration which, if the charter supporters and schools had been honest, was a pipe dream, didn't come thru. So the reality hits. No more funding (but they were all told some magic fairy would fund these schools thru the end of the school year.)

Well, then they figured out the loophole that is the ALE. They got a superintendent - on the Charter Commission - to take this on. (Makes you wonder how many districts they asked first.)

They got the State Superintendent to bend the rules on ALEs, just for these schools and their students. (Note to SPS; use this later on. It'll bring you more money and save time.)

So where are we now? Well, problem solved as, once again, state money will fund these non-charter "schools." (I can't get a single governmental entity to tell me the name or status of these "schools.") And all these students will finish the year in the school of their choice that they started in.

And yet, we are still going to see a fight in the leglislature - from day one, apparently - over charters versus McCleary.

All while the fines for not fulfilling McCleary pile up.

The Supreme Court is neither deaf nor unable to read what is happening (although, if they read the Times, their knowledge base will be sorely limited.) Does anyone really think the smash-up between McCleary and the charter law ruling will escape their notice?

I said it before and I'll say it again - the people to be angry at over the dilemma of these students are not the people who did not want charters. It's the charter supporters themselves.

They have gambled - and continue to - with children's academic lives. Very, very sad and telling about what lengths people will go to.

Anonymous said...

It's been clear to me that aka and PC NO MORE emerged after the election and after Melissa decided to come down on MC and his (aka) aliases. Don't bother reacting to his posts.

not bothered

No 1240 said...

Here is what bothers me: There is NO timeline for the MWSD/ ALE situation to be made. Hypothetically,it is possible for unconstitutional charter schools will be in existence/limbo until after the legislative period. What does this mean for the students in terms of safety, course credit etc.?

Anonymous said...

Possibly SPS is tightening HC admissions to keep higher performing children at their neighborhood schools. At my school, parents are fleeing to APP in rather large numbers as Spectrum which includes a lot of APP kids is being dissolved. Many parents fear a reduction in quality services and challenge for their kids.

Elementary Teacher

Anonymous said...

How is it, Melissa, that you can't find evidence within the charter school community that communications were open with parents prior to the ruling? Ask yourself this question: Why would anyone within this community share ANYTHING with you? You are not a reporter, as you admit. You are an activist and an staunch and vocal opponent of charter schools. No one within that community trusts you to have their best interests at heart. You clearly want to end their schools.

--- aka

seattle citizen said...

And therein lies the problem: As aka repeatedly notes, charters are separate from public schools: "charter school community" and "this community" and "their schools."
They are not OUR schools - they exist separately, and, according to aka, will not share with the public whatever it is they do or don't do.

Someone remind me again how charters are public schools, accountable to the public (including to journalists and long-time blogger activists seeking information)?

Charters want to be their own little enclave, a separate realm, not an adjunct to the public schools (as was their initial mission, and as we often hear - "we are for those students who need more, or something different, but we ARE public schools!"

Fine. Have your own community, your distrustful and therefore opaque little group of schools, separate from our public schools. Just don't ask us to pay for it.

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a leap.

I too have been working in and around schools for over 20 years. And I can honestly say that schools often refer to themselves as a "community," as in the Rainier Beach community or the Nathan Hale community. This is common nomenclature. Don't try to spin it differently, SC, for your own political and ideological ends.

And given the number of newspaper articles on charters across the state (not just the ST), it's clear that charter schools are open to public scrutiny. They're just not open to manipulative activists who are trying to do harm to them. Melissa is NOT attempting to report on charters, she's trying to close them. Plain and simple.

You claim as others have that charter supporters are spreading propaganda on charters. Melissa is spreading anti-charter school propaganda. She is not reporting on them. And if you believe otherwise, you're either blind, ignorant, or naive.

During a political campaign, you don't let your opponent inside your tent. Melissa is simply carrying on her activities from the No on 1240 campaign. There are many of us working to keep public charter schools open. Melissa and others are working to close them.

--- aka

Anonymous said...

aka, Melissa has every right to oppose public funds going into private charters. These schools have been a mixed bag across the nation. Some are good and some are terrible.

I am bothered by reports of high administrative and marketing budgets and low teacher pay and turnover. The ability to screen out difficult students is also concerning. If public schools are left with the hardest to educate children, then they will be at a distinct disadvantage. In this way, charters are a real threat to public education.

We need to fund our public schools per McCleary. That is a priority — not dabbling with a new experiment for a small number of students.

S parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

AKA,well, I checked their websites for info. I asked the Charter Commission (who, yes, do treat me as media). I read news stories to see if any charter parent said "Yes, I knew this could happen." But all of them act as though they were blindsided and knew nothing about this possible outcome. Any parent who had known this could probably would have said, "My school let us know all the possible outcomes of this lawsuit."

That's due diligence as best I can do it and if anyone has evidence to the contrary, I'd like to see it.

There's a difference between charter schools being scrutinized and being open to scrutiny.

This blog exists for both information and advocacy. But I'm covering charter schools far more in-depth than any other media source. But again, no secret, I don't believe in charter schools, I don't think they are more effective, I think that if we fully-funded our existing schools they would get better and it's a waste of time and money.

But, if there had been a good charter law written, one that was constitutional, I would have very little I could argue about except the types of charters that open. That is not my fault but the fault of the people who pushed this initiative who said "it is the best charter law in the country." Clearly for everyone in this state, it's not.

Not bothered, just ignore whoever you want but we do not out people here at the blog. Please no names or initials.

Anonymous said...

Charter school effectiveness aside, the issue for me remains the constitutionality of the Washington law. I personally think the operators did their students a great disservice by opening before the Court had issued it's decision.

I understand they were excited and wanted to get rolling. But to me it comes across as a very poor management decision that put their students at risk for the kind of jockeying for well..salvation...for want of a better word that we are seeing now.

I think its a fair question to wonder if parents knew of this possible outcome - that the Court might overturn the law. And to wonder what the contingency plans were on the part of operators were in the event that the outcome was to their detriment. I'd ask the same questions about the public school system if such a scenario was upcoming.

Right now - this whole ALE solution seems like gaming the system a bit. Charter operators took a chance. It failed to turn out their way. And now suddenly they want the State to make it right for them. (and with those appallingly maudlin ads to boot). Guess what? Public schools want the State to make it right for them too and have been waiting for that a much longer time.


Charlie Mas said...

Here's the thing about public education: it's owned and operated by the government that represents all of the public, including the members of the public who disagree with the current leadership.

That means that public schools don't shut out citizens who ask for information and transparency - even if those citizens want to close the school.

Here we see another distinction between public schools and charter schools. Charter schools, owned and operated by private entities, maintain the right to withhold information from people who disagree with them.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the charter organizers figured it would be harder to close them with real students there. If the law did not go their way, they counted on sympathy for these students in the media and from right wing groups like the Washington Policy Center.

The ALE plan is a dishonest dodge, in my opinion. A district in eastern Washington will not give any scrutiny. They are just in it for the money.

S parent

Anonymous said...

Fairly ignorant question. I realize the Charters are private entities, but could someone do a public disclosure request related to conversations between Dorn/OSPI and/or the Charter Commission related to the ALE discussion? Wonder what would turn out in that wash...


Anonymous said...

Too bad both NPR stations KUOW and KPLU are mired in their business fate and aren't covering the charter situation as they should. However, there is hope that they might both get to be news sources after all. The stations and The Seattle Times are reporting a plan that would let KPLU listeners buy the station. We need more local news sources, not fewer, as the allegiance to this blog and hunger for on the ground news attests. I for one hope that KPLU survives in its current news and jazz format. And that we get some actual news back on KUOW. (Not that this blog won't still be my first source of SPS news.)


No1240 said...

As previously mentioned, there is poor oversight of ALE dollars; the legislature is fully award of this fact. It is also worth noting that Mary Walker School District-under Jacka's leadership-used ALE dollars to repair/renovate church facilities. Trust me...there is reason to be concerned about Mary Walker School district and lack of transparency and there is more on this issue. We shouldn't be sending scarce resources to the Mary Walker School district for schools western Washington.

reader47 is correct. The only way we will get information is via FOIA.

I'm extremely grateful to Melissa for her work and for covering this important issue. She was the first one to uncover this information and bring it to public light.

I feel for the children and families in charter schools. They were duped. They continue to get duped and charter operators fill them with unrealistic hope.

There is a national charter organization that has joined the tired and old faces of LEV, Stand for Children and DFER. Gates provided $13M for charter expansion in Washington. Those dollars can be used to fund prematurely opened schools and additional layers of administration that charter schools created.

1240 needs to die. There is a conversion clause that would allow a simple majority of parents or teachers to convert existing public properties to private entities, and charter operators will continue to withhold and mislead the public to do so.

Teacher Greg said...

I'm very grateful to Melissa and her hard work exposing the sham of Charter schools. I wonder about the advertisements on TV.... I wonder if they are staged? I am curious whether these same ads have run outside of the state of Washington. My reasons are that I imagine that making and airing an ad is much more expensive than just changing the text on an already existing ad.

I also like the public records request idea. Perhaps that can be a winter break project in-between spending time with family and grading papers.

Anonymous said...

More on how charter schools aren't "for the kids."



Anonymous said...

Found an interesting site called "Political Ad Sleuth" - gives links to documents related to who paid for specific ads

Here's an example from the Washington State Charter School Association ads that appeared on KIRO - ads scheduled to run from 11/30 to 1/10/2016 cost $103,445 (plus a commission to the ad agency of $18,255).

The list of ad filings for WA is HERE

I know its their money to spend as they will, but its hard not to think about how much good could have come from that $100,000+ in a WA public school classroom - and that's just one TV station


Po3 said...

WOW reader47, just WOW.

And thanks to franny for the quote of the day:

“You can’t make a profit and get good results.”
James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center

Comments aka?

seattle citizen said...

aka, as you're I'm sure aware, I was commenting on your grouping of ALL charters into ONE community, not individual schools. Of course public schools refer to themselves as communities. As does the greater community of Seattle Public Schools, for instance - all those staff, parents, and citizen who are a part of the SPS community, in addition to being a part of their individual school's communities (or being merely citizens, unaffiliated with individual schools but active in the district.
You wrote about "the charter school community...this community...charter schools...their schools." You are clearly referring to charter supporters generally; charter supporters as part of "the charter school community", as opposed (and apparently in vociferous opposition to) the public school community.

Of course I wasn't referring to individual school communities (but you knew that...); I was referring to the opaque, separate community of charter school supporters who apparently consider themselves separate from public schools, evidently want nothing at all to do with public schools, diss public schools as a matter of course (because pointing out, and, frankly, exaggerating public school failings provides their rationalization to exist), and provide very little transparency regarding their rules, policies, etc.

That is one of the big problems with charters - they aren't part of the public provision of K-12 education because they themselves don't consider themselves part of public education; they're separate. They really want nothing to do with public education; they want to escape it.

Anonymous said...

No1240 said "I'm extremely grateful to Melissa for her work and for covering this important issue. She was the first one to uncover this information and bring it to public light."

I'm also extremely grateful to Melissa for her website, but if "this important issue" refers to charters converting to ALEs, the WA Charter School Association had it on their website back in September http://wacharters.org/letter-from-state-superintendent-randy-dorn-to-charter-school-parents/


NO 1240 said...

Nice try, LisaG. Unlike Melissa and as expected- the Washington State Charter Association failed to mention the fact that Randy Dorn is using ALE in a manner that it was never intended and he is in possible violation of the law.

No 1240 said...

I'm sorry, Lisa. My point: The media has been glazing over very important issues/ concerns regarding the legality of this issue.

Anonymous said...

No 1240 at @4:45 said "The media has been glazing over very important issues/ concerns"

I agree with that. I found this blog after internet searching for information I couldn't get from newspapers.


seattle citizen said...

No1240 - You write that Gates provided 13 million for charters in WA, but by my count (see my earlier post) Gates provided 52 million.

NO1240 said...

Meanwhile, charter school in Ohio spent $2.7M taxpayer dollars in advertising. There is a bill that would disallow charter schools from spending taxpayer dollars to cover the cost of advertising.


We're looking at the ghost of the future. 1240 needs to be shut-down.