I'll start with what I think is coming next. A big fat fight in the legislature - one that will take time and energy away from the work of McCleary. (Despite what Republicans think, a one-pager to the Supreme Court with some dates and thoughts on funding are unlikely to change minds on the court.) The legislature starts its short two-month session on Monday, Jan. 11th.
I think there will be at least one charter school bill in the legislature (I'm hearing there may be two which would make it interesting. I'm also betting one of them will have Rep. Eric Pettigrew's name on it.)
Now, there are three major issues with the current law that would need to be fixed, two of them constitutional, and I think those two come with so much baggage, that a bill can't be created, vetted by both legislators and the public, amended and then passed. It could happen but I think that's not likely.
I think the charter schools will be opening their doors after the holiday break but honestly, I can't really tell you what they are now. I don't think the ALE program has been set up, I don't know where the money is coming to run them, they have no real public oversight (maybe OSPI in a vague way) and I'm not even sure they are public schools at this point.
Three - I previously mentioned Dora Taylor's good work over at the Seattle Education 2010 blog on this issue.
- She says that Tacoma, Highline and Seattle school districts were asked to take in the charter schools under the "ALE umbrella." Naturally, Highline, which is run by former SPS interim superintendent Susan Enfield, said yes. Seattle said no (and she doesn't mention what Tacoma said.)
OSPI came back to the Seattle Public School district and responded by basically saying in a memo (I am paraphrasing here) “You are being overruled and will have charter schools in your district. You will allow charter schools under the ALE umbrella and specifically using the Mary Walker District as your money laundering facility”. The Seattle School Board Executive Committee will be meeting this week to make a decision on whether the Seattle Public School district should accept this “proposal” from OSPI.
She doesn't link the memo so I'll have to ask about that. The Executive Committee agenda is still not available but will be by Tuesday. I sure hope that this kind of arm-twisting doesn't work in SPS. Seattle Schools is responsible for the students who parents chose SPS, not charter students.
- It appears Mary Walker School District has a couple of troubling issues. One is financial woes as evidenced from a Feb. 2014 minutes where they considering asking for a "temporary loan from Stevens County Treasurer, to cover expenses, due to the cash flow timing constraints." Bringing in charter students would probably be very good for that cash flow. And, of course, the Gates Foundation just gave them $250,000 in "community grants."
The MWSD with have agreements with school districts to keep the charter schools in place in their districts. The charter schools will be operated by the MWSD and will take a cut of the funding provided by the state for each student which is $6,308.69 per student and the remainder will go to the charter school owners. The MWSD will theoretically operate the schools.
- Taylor also reveals that the state had looked into ALE programs in 2005 and found issues in 18 school districts including, you guessed it, Mary Walker School District.
When I asked about why the charter schools are allowed months to file Written Student Learning Plans as required by the WAC:
Regarding the first part – and more generally, the easing of requirements regarding the plans – we are allowing the delay simply to give those students time to complete them. Their education shouldn’t be interrupted because of rules that they had no idea they needed to follow.But, didn't the charter schools know that there was a lawsuit against the charter law that was in the Supreme Court when their schools opened? They did. And weren't they to act as responsible parties for these students and guard against upending their educations? They were.
I asked: In an OSPI webinar from April 2013, says, in multiple places, that a learning plan must be in effect before a count date. But the Superintendent memo says that it doesn't have to be. Why is that?
That is true about the learning plans and the count date. But I’ll repeat that the overarching principle here has to do with the students. Since the Supreme Court’s ruling on this issue, Superintendent Dorn has been adamant that the decisions and rules of adults shouldn’t affect student learning. That means that the most important thing is for those students to be in classrooms learning. Superintendent Dorn is fine if their learning plans will be completed a couple of months later, and trusts that school officials will ensure that that will happen.I normally would not say this but WTF? "The decisions and rules of adults shouldn't affect student learning."
Well, if that is so, then that opens the door to ALL kinds of rule-bending. And, ATTENTION all Washington State School districts: ask and ye shall receive. (Given Superintendent Dorn's actions, he looks like a guy who wants to go out the political door with some good relationships - in some particular venues - in place.)
As well, Dorn "trusts" these school officials that didn't have the good grace to warn prospective families about the possible outcomes of the lawsuit? I'm not sure they are truly all that trustworthy.
I asked: Won't this waiving of the count date help MWSD get funding earlier than other districts under an ALE program?
I asked: for an ALE program there should be monthly evaluations (that is both in the WAC and the webinar) and those are based off the WSLP. How will teachers do these evaluations if there is no WSLP? Are charter teachers not going to have to do the monthly evaluations until the WSLPs are in place?OSPI granting a temporary exemption for the students in question from having in place certain elements of an ALE program that are ordinarily required. We are doing this because those students already have been in a school and will continue to be in a school (albeit different from the one they were in). Again, this is being done so that their education isn’t disrupted.
You are correct: We are granting an exemption for those students from monthly evaluations until their WSLPs are filed, in February at the latest. See the answers to Questions 1, 2 and 3 for the reasons why.So all the other students in ALE programs in the state have to follow the rules but somehow, not charter school students.
Naturally, I was interested in what was happening in discussions between OSPI and the charter schools so I filed public disclosure requests. Well, I tried. First, I can't even find how to make such a request to half of them. Of the ones I did make requests of, one charter (Summit) said they didn't have to because of the Supreme Court ruling. I refiled that request, tweaking the dates so that it covered the time they WERE a charter school. I mean, I'm fine if they want to tell me they aren't a charter school.
Green Dot? They are forwarding it to "GDPS Washington" "for their consideration." Never heard that phrasing - ever - from SPS.
No answer from Spokane International Academy but maybe I'll ask Spokane Schools for help on that one.
Rainier Prep actually gave me a date of Jan 8. 2016. Good for them.
It's going to get very interesting and very busy very soon.