Let's start with charters.
You may recall the "yet another faux ed reform group" called Act Now for Washington Students. This group is organized by the usual suspects - LEV, Stand for Children, DFER and the Washington State Charter Schools Association. All these get money from the Gates Foundation.
They have formed a PAC that hopes to raise (and presumably spend) $500,000 just for this legislative session to influence legislators on charter schools. They have already spent $20K on 13 House members (each got $1,000) including Seattle's charter cheerleader, Eric Pettigrew. This is in addition to the number of print and tv ads running. It is not cheap to run a local ad during football Sunday.
Oddly, ANWS doesn't mention this PAC at their website or their Facebook page. Now if you wanted parents to be all in, wouldn't you tell them this and be asking them for money? (WSCSA does have a Save Washington Charter Schools Campaign but that says it's for "emergency relief for these schools," not lobbying.)
Legislators cannot receive any more dollars after the next legislative session starts on Jan. 11th.
I would suggest that if you feel, as I do, that McCleary IS job#1 for public education during this short legislative session, then please take 5 minutes between now and Jan. 11th to let your own legislative reps know. It will make a difference.
Over at the Washington's Paramount Duty Facebook page, there's quite the discussion going on when one of the WPD leaders, Summer Stinson, listed all the legislators who had not signed the Paramount Duty resolution. Here's who has:
Senator Cyrus Habib and Representative Ruth Kagi, Representatives Jim Moeller, Derek Stanford, Luis Saúl Moscoso, Chris Reykdal, Mia Gregerson, Tina Orwall, Reuven Carlyle, Gael Tarleton, Brady Walkinshaw, Hans Dunshee, Gerry Pollet, and Jessyn Farrell; and Senators Rosemary McAuliffe, Bob Hasegawa, Christine Rolfes, Maralyn Chase, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Pramila Jayapal, John McCoy, Kevin Ranker, Jamie Pedersen, and David Frockt. Governor Jay Inslee and Representative Zack Hudgins also affirmed it.
Still wondering about these people:
Representatives Cindy Ryu, Chad Magendanz, Drew Hansen, Eric Pettigrew, Christine Kilduff, Jake Fey, Jeff Morris, Joan McBride, Joe Fitzgibbon, Lillian Ortiz-Self, Larry Springer, Kevin Van De Wege, Pat Sullivan, Marcus Riccelli, Matt Manweller, Patty Kuderer, Sharon Wylie, Sherry Appleton, and Tana Senn; Senators Jeannie Darneille, Karen Keiser, Steve Hobbs, Sharon K. Nelson, and Steve Litzow.
Now, of course, Rep. Chad Magendanz weighs in about McCleary saying:
would sign the resolution except for one issue...the statement about
the state funding the full cost of school construction. If the School
Construction Assistance Program statutes are tested under the same
standard the court applied to operating
formulas in McCleary, there are some important differences in the
constitutional framework because the constitution sets up school
construction as a SHARED responsibility of the state and school
districts. And practically speaking, we just don't have the capacity in
the capital budget to fund all school construction because of our
constitutional debt limit.
Eden Mack, another WPD leader, answered: Sorry, Chad Magendanz,
can you show where in the constitution it says this about buildings? I
find it confusing that the Court would specifically call out the States
responsibility to fund buildings if there was something in the
constitution that contradicted that.
Summer: I'd also like to better understand your argument, Chad Magendanz. Eden Mack
is far more familiar with the school construction/buildings issues than
I am. However, it seems nonsensical to me to argue that while the
Constitution requires the state to provide
the basics for education--including a low student/teacher ratio for
K-3, full-day kindergarten, etc.--that somehow the state is not required
to provide buildings or otherwise house basic education.
Then there's quite the lengthy discussion. I find this fascinating because now Magendanz is worried about McCleary because of capital issues?
Then, in comes Rep. Matt Manweller (R) from the 13th district (by Ellensburg.) You should be interesting not in just what he says about McCleary but he is sponsoring a rather interesting bill around free speech on college and university campuses. (He is a Political Science professor at Central Washington.) The Washington Post had a story on "identity politics" that apparently inspired Manweller. (I'll have a separate post on this later on because it's quite the hot topic.)
On to what Rep. Manweller said. The question presented to him was "Do you support transferring public properties to private entities?" His one word reply? "Yes."
Do you also support fully funding basic education in Washington state?
Would you please sign the Paramount Duty resolution requesting that
the State of Washington, promptly and fully comply with the Supreme
Court’s orders in the McCleary case?
He goes on:
I support charter schools because they:
1. Create incentives.
2. Add competition to a state based monopolistic system.
3. Provide opportunities to underachieving and minority students.
And most importantly, the creation of charter school teachers means
less money in the pockets of the WEA--the entity that is the single
largest barrier to a good education in Washington State.
I myself asked him, "What incentives?" but naturally, got no answer.
Summer asks again: Representative, Matt Manweller, do you also support fully funding basic education in Washington state?
Manweller: Not at the Court's directive. And they already are fully funded.
When some, including me argued with him, he said:
But just because you don't want to send your kids means you should be
able to stop others? That's why it's called school CHOICE.
He answered not one concern raised to him nor explained his reasoning except for "choice."
One interesting and tantalizing bit of info from Magendanz after public ed activist, Kathy Smith, and I raised the issue of the petition clause of the charter school law.
to clarity, the provision in I-1240 for conversion charters doesn't
actually transfer ownership of the property. It just allows rent-free
use. You'll see language drafted in the charter school fix to ensure
that this doesn't run afoul of constitutional
prohibitions on lending of credit or gifts of public funds, and it will
likely leave considerably more discretion to the school district (just
like for after-hours community use).
I, of course, know very well that section of the charter law that uses a petition for a charter school to take over an existing school's building doesn't transfer ownership but really, that's the least of the problem. But that highlighted part of his statement, that speaks volumes.
So someone IS re-writing this so-called "best charter law in the country?" Someone actually DID hire a real constitutional lawyer who said, "Uh this part here, where the charter school kicks out a school community and gets to use the building rent-free and the district has to pay for major maintenance? I think that's gifting of public funds." I can't wait to see how they plan to do this because right now no district has any "discretion" if a charter were to take over a building.
Magendanz says: In
a case like this, the question boils down to whether there is a
tangible benefit to the public (consideration) provided in exchange for
the use of the public asset. Charter school advocates would say of
course—rent-free use for conversion charter schools benefits the
schoolchildren and is a use for public education.
To which I say, It's
not a tangible benefit to the public to throw out an entire school
community. Whether it helps one group of children doesn't matter if it
hurts another and good luck arguing that in court. As well, you are not
going to be able to sustain that "teacher" ability and see it stand up
Last thing. I was trying to make public disclosure requests to all the charter schools. Boy, that's not easy. Why?
1) Four out of the eight had the call roll to someone's voicemail. Not with the name of the school but a single person's voicemail. Almost as if it went to a cell phone. Do these schools not have landlines? Because those would be vital if cell service went out in an emergency.
2) I tried the ones with voicemail twice and never got a real person. These are the only phone numbers I could find for these schools but I hope there's some private one for parents because, if I were a parent at the school, I'd be very worried if I got a voicemail when I called the school.
3) Green Dot's person is in California which would lead me to wonder if there was just one person for all the Green Dot schools in Washington State and California.
4) The ones I could not reach did not call back. Whether it's an e-mail or a phone call, I generally never have this problem with SPS public disclosure.
I will be very interested to see when I hear from the schools where I did make a request.