Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Charters and McCleary: A Round-Up

From Cascadia Weekly:
YOU HAD ONE JOB: With fewer than 20 days left in their short legislative session, a nearly paralyzed state House and Senate in Olympia passed watered-down education funding plans on razor-thin margins divided along extremely partisan lines hours before a cutoff deadline that would have stalled the bills in their houses of origin.

SB 6195 passed the senate by a vote of 26-23. The bill was modeled after House Bill 2633, which passed that chamber in January on a vote 64-34. The bills were reconciled, and approved by a second vote of the House last week, 66-31. They move on to the governor’s desk for signature.

Critics called the final product “a plan to make a plan.”

The reconciled bills are toothless, and do little more than continue to study a problem the dimensions of which are well understood. They kick the can of McCleary down the road to 2017 and are likely insufficient to end the Supreme Court sanction.
That's a damn fine summary.  But wait, there's more.

I have been recording here the number of newspapers of record who have written editorials of disappointment - among them, the Seattle Times and now the Tri-City Herald.  

Referring to OSPI, the Tri-City Herald gave us this handy list:
His office recently released a list of past studies on education funding that already have been conducted. Here is a list of the years and the groups that produced them:

▪ Early 2000s: The bipartisan Fromhold/Cox committee
▪ 2006: Washington Learns
▪ 2007: The Joint Task Force on Basic Education Finance
▪ 2009: The Quality Education Council
▪ 2011: Compensation Technical Working Group
▪ 2012: The Joint Task Force on Education Funding

But apparently none of these are considered relevant now.

Read more here:
As of today, there are also articles in  Cascadia Weekly, and the South Whidbey Record.
On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee said, “We all know the heavy lifting that will need to be done in the session of 2017 is now set up to be done.”
From the Tri-City Herald:
State Budget Director David Schumacher even said early in the session that nobody expected lawmakers to meet the requirements of the McCleary decision until 2017 because the court set a 2018 deadline.

Nothing like calling it close. That seems to be the way our Legislature operates, however. 
From Senate Dem leader Sharon Nelson about the Senate Republican budget:
“Most inexplicable, however, is the damage it does to K-12 education.

“The Senate Republican budget contains a hidden $53 million cut to K-3 class sizes. It ignores the $19 million fine owed for failing to produce an education funding plan. It falls far short of addressing the state’s teacher shortage crisis and does nothing to invest in attracting and retaining quality teachers.

“The House budget invests $99 million in K-12 education. This despite the misleading, manufactured hogwash you hear from Senate Republicans about a mythical cut.

“The Senate Republican budget doesn’t even kick the can down the road – it misses it entirely.”
From Washington's Paramount Duty:
"The largest single investment in this K-12 budget is for charter schools." said in OSPI's testimony on the Senate's supplemental budget bill at today's State Senate Ways & Means Committee hearing."
Do you know how much time that Senator Jamie Pedersen believes was spent in the Senate considering SB 6195? One hour.  He also stated that they had spent almost seven hours on transgendered bathrooms.  (To note, neither he nor I am saying that issue isn't important but you'd think that it would not have turned into the obsession it seems to have. ) As well, I would count the number of hours on charter schools in the House and Senate probably at 8+ hours.

Speaking of charter spending, it appears the Senate Republican supplemental adds more money than before for the Charter Commission.   

As for charter schools, well, tomorrow is a big day - the House Ed committee will likely take a vote on whether to refer the main charter bill (6194) out.   They are apparently doing this in Executive Session.

(The Washington Policy Center seems worried the lesser charter bill will get the vote - that's the one where school districts are authrorizers and the money still comes from the Opportunity Fund.   As well, there could be amendments to 6194 like just funding the eight schools.) 

Do I think it will make it out of committee? Probably.

Last week I went and testified to the House Ed committee on the bill.  Committee chair, Sharon Tomiko Santos, stressed to the crowd that even though it was a personal and emotional issue to some that the Committee was interested in policy questions and wanted to hear about those.  Naturally, charter supporters mostly ignored that.  But the Committee could not have missed the number of people who had concerns about the constitutionality of the bill. I believe many legislators are worried about passage of legislation that would only land us all back in court.

However, I don't think it will get a Floor vote nor do I think that the Governor would sign it.

I want to note how distasteful I believe it is for legislators to be at a public hearing where citizens have taken the time to come to them and some legislators show their support by wearing t-shirts (or, in this case, bright yellow scarves.)  I believe the legislators should at least make it look like they are listening to citizens impartially and appreciate the input.  

Rep. Gerry Pollet asked staff an interesting question about the current bill.  He asked what would happen to state dollars that a charter might have if that charter decided to pull the plug.  Staff said, "the bill is silent on that."  Well, great.  Nothing like a law that allows an entity to bug out AND take state dollars.

It was also stated by staff that, except for teachers and governance, there is nothing in current statutory law that would prevent any school district to practice some of the "innovative" items that charter schools can.

What was pretty funny is that one legislator had bad things to say about the previous initiative.  Rep. Chad Magendanz said that they had to "clean up the original law" and it "hadn't gone thru our coders."  He went on and said that most of the authors of the original initiative "were not constitutional scholars."  Wait, what?  This was called "the best charter law in the country" and Bill "the billionaire" Gates paid for the campaign.  He had no access to "constitutional scholars?"  Hmm.

Read more here:

Lastly, from Washington's Paramount Duty:

Chief Justice Barbara Madsen gave an interview to KUOW about McCleary, the contempt of court sanction, and the Supreme Court's retained jurisdiction. Austin Jenkin is interviewing her on TVW's Inside Olympia on Thursday, February 25, at 7:00 pm.
“While you may say the legislature budgets, of course they budget, but we’re talking about a lawsuit here, a lawsuit in which one party prevailed,” Madsen said. 
Can't wait to hear the entire interview.


Patrice Griffith said...

This afternoon Rep. Magendanz pulled 6194 from the Ed Committee Executive Session tomorrow morning. Wonder what the back story is.

Elephant's Memory said...

I was told the SB 6194 wasn't looking good in the House.

SB 6194 has been pulled from the agenda and I hope it doesn't show-up at a later date. I've not forgotten what Chad Magendanz had to say before the session began:

"The biggest political obstacle to wrapping up McCleary right now is a charter school fix. If the Speaker won't allow a vote, McCleary doesn't have a chance."

Anonymous said...

here is The Deal. the go along get along political cowards of the WEA will do little to nothing to challenge any sitting elected anyone. significant election efforts will jell around saving x, y. or z from trump-0-goths in ... Sept? Oct?
ALL of us will barely participate in the Aug 2016 primary. Instead of voting out incumbents, in droves, during the primaries, electeds will get a free pass. WHY should they care about sappy lame lobbying which is just begging, when they get great photo ops standing next to parents, kids and teachers in Oly with their "I Care!"


Fed Up said...


So the legislature kicks the can down the road and they'll "Fix" it all "next year".

Meanwhile, districts all over the state are being forced to honor the COLA initiative that passed last year--the same initiative that the legislature refused to fund. This is creating multi-million dollar budget deficits in districts all over the state, at a time that the public thinks schools are rolling in the dough because...well...McCleary.

I expect the Supreme Court to be unamused.

I also expect the Supreme Court to wimp out and not go far enough to actually force change.

Meanwhile, kids continue to lose.

This whole business is crazy-making!!!!!

Charlie Mas said...

Where have all the grown-ups gone?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, McCleary for this session has been decided so there is no quid pro quo left.

I think some people got a little full of themselves. What did Kenny Rogers say? "You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table..."

Po3 said...

I am so confused.
Will the Charters get funded and public schools will not get funding?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Po3, if the charter bill were to pass, yes, the charters would get funding from the Opportunity Fund. However, it is NOT all coming from the Opportunity Fund (if you read closely) AND the Rep would up the amount the Charter Commission would get.

The only new K-12 investments appear to be for retaining teachers. I don't think there would be any new money that would go into the classroom.

Again, 1,000 students versus 1M students and who is the legislature truly worried about?

I can't wait to hear from the Supreme Court.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. If folks like the Balmers and their ilk want charter schools why don't they just pay for them? In the long run they get what they want and don't have to continue to spend money on all those cheesy television ads.


Jan said...

Because, what folks like the Ballmers REALLY want is:

1. To get someone else (the public) to fund what they want, so they can save their money for houses, yachts, sports teams, funding off shore tax havens, buying businesses, etc. and

2. To privatize the entire public school system (which they cannot do by just funding 20 or 30 private schools). You have to have a plan that both destroys the public education we have AND uses tax dollars to fund the private, corporatized system you want.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jan

I guess I wasn't thinking deeply enough about this. There IS always a hidden motive behind what the uber rich do with their money. It is difficult to understand such concepts when one has never walked in their Italian leather handmade shoes.


Charlie Mas said...

The corporate Education Reform movement is now and has only ever been about two things:
1) Keeping the money they have in their own pockets.
2) Redirecting public money into their pockets and their friends' pockets.

How to keep money in their own pockets? By reducing the taxes needed to support education. Since the bulk of education funds go to pay teacher salaries, most of their reforms are focused on reducing that expense. They are working to do that by:
A) Increasing class sizes ("Class size doesn't matter")
B) Removing higher salary, senior teachers from the workforce (ending seniority)
C) De-professionalizing teaching into a temp job for new college graduates (TFA)
D) De-professionalizing teaching through fidelity of implementation requirements
E) Automating teaching with videos and computers
F) Reducing teacher pay by breaking the unions

They are working to redirect public education money into their own pockets or their friends' pockets by:
A) Selling educational software
B) Selling standardized tests
C) Operating publicly funded, privately owned schools for profit
D) Operating publicly funded, privately owned schools as non-profits that contract with for profit companies

None of these "innovations" serve students; they only serve the interests of the corporate Education Reformers.

Jan said...

Spot on Charlie. I could not have said it half so well! And frankly, I think that is the reason that a lot of charter bills are written so poorly (with respect to implementation) -- things like how to de-convert a conversion charter if the parents or teachers don't like what the conversion wrought; how to "fairly" share or allocated school resources with regular public schools; how to deal with returning money to the state if it has been paid for a student who does not remain in the charter system; how to close poorly performing charters; how to make sure that charters actually serve the number of kids they claim. Really -- none of this matters. Who (of the charter school proponents) really cares if any of the schools work, work well, or even really exist. For the big dollars behind the ed reform movement, THEIR kids will never attend, or never know anyone who attends, any of the charter schools OR the public schools that they destroy. So all that matters is:

"1) Keeping the money they have in their own pockets.
2) Redirecting public money into their pockets and their friends' pockets."

Everything else is (to them) just irrelevant trivia. The system is designed to reduce taxes and (where they MUST be paid) to reallocate public tax dollars to themselves and their friends. The fact that charter schools systems work poorly, are full of fraud and corruption, don't work at all, and remove any semblance of public control over public assets is irrelevant (or in the case of removal of public control over public dollars) is an actual design feature.

Maybe we need to stop talking about charter schools (and other ed reform schemes) failing. They are actually succeeding nicely -- if you look at what they are REALLY intended to do (and not the lies they tell people to get them to cooperate).