Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Republicans Say Deal Near for Charter Schools

The Republican House/Senate Majority Caucus had a press conference to discuss various subjects on the docket as the end of the legislative session draws near.  At about 2:30, Rep Chad Magendanz weighs in on charter legislation.

He said:
- there was a tentative agreement this morning
- that there may be potential amendments that may need time for legislators to "digest"
- they were not sure which "vehicle" they would use; 6194, 3000 or 3002
- that they may be able to get this done tomorrow

Changes:
- more oversight of charters from state superintendent
- districts would have "right of first refusal"
- takes out conversion charters (which he called a "concession from our side"

I had to smile when he said that this bill "tries to anticipate challenges to constitutionality."  Well, it's about time, no?

So the changes do address the constitutional issue of Article 3, Section 22 of the state constitution which says that the superintendent will have oversight over "all public schools."

I'm not sure what the second one - "district right of first refusal" means.  Does it mean districts can refuse charters in their districts after a certain number of them open (that was in one bill?). Or does it mean districts get to say yes to some charters they like and no to others?

The last change is one that is also good to see because it was just shady and immoral all around.

I don't know how much real support this has from the Democratic side so not sure if the numbers are there.

So we may get charters.  I have always said that if someone would write a constitutional law, there wouldn't be much anyone could do if it were voted in by the people or the legislature.

I will say that this bill is NOT what the people voted in.  We did not vote on a fill-in-the-blank charter law back in 2012.  No one will be able to read this bill (probably) until after the fact.  That's troubling.

22 comments:

Robert Cruickshank said...

Let's also keep in mind that in every other state with charters, there's always pressure to relax oversight and numerical limits on charters. Magendanz would be happy with pretty much any bill that can pass the legislature, as he assumes he and his allies will be able to put the things they want back in the coming years.

It would be a profound mistake for House Democrats to put these charter schools ahead of the 1 million kids who are still waiting for fully funded public schools - especially when charter schools undermine funding for those same public schools.

NO 1240 said...

"- more oversight of charters from state superintendent"

I just saw this post and I will have time to study tonight. At first glance,
SB 6194 put SPI on the Charter Commission. The state's SPI would be one of many and I'm not certain if this will pass constitutional muster.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, since you put it in quotations, I thought I might correct your statement regarding the supervision authority of the state superintendent.

Article 3, Section 22 states, "The superintendent of public instruction shall have supervision over all matters pertaining to public schools." It does not say supervision over "all public schools." If that were the case, local school boards would be unconstitutional entities.

Various courts, including the lower court in the charter school lawsuit, have defined those "matters" as pertaining to the program of the public schools such as standards, assessments, teacher certification, etc. They have never defined that authority to pertain to the direct supervision of schools.

--- aka

Melissa Westbrook said...

AKA, the point is the superintendent is supposed to have oversight over "public schools." Are charters public? I thought they were.

I would like to hear the courts end up saying about this round.

Charlie Mas said...

The Superintendent of Public Instruction does, in fact, have supervision over all public schools. That's part of what the annual approval of schools is about. The Board is the top of the org chart for each school district, but the OSPI retains supervision authority and can disqualify teachers or schools.

Anonymous said...

I think we disagree about whether there is a difference in our state between a "public school" and a "common school." I think there is. I think you may not (but I could be mistaken).

To the extent that they are public schools, the SPI would have supervision over their standards, assessments, teacher certification, etc. as I read the various court rulings on the matter; thus, the SPI's supervision authority is not undermined by charter schools since they required to teach the state content standards, administer the state assessments and be held accountable to the results, etc.

--- aka

Anonymous said...

Charlie, what is the SPI "annual approval of schools"? I know the State Board approves private schools but I've never heard of any annual approval of schools by OSPI.

Can you send a link about the process?

Also, the SPI can revoke a teaching certificate but has no authority to hire/fire teachers in good standing.

--- aka

Anonymous said...

https://app.leg.wa.gov/far/House/Amendment/SearchFloor?BillNumber=6194

Not at all clear to me what district "right of refusal" would come out of this amended language.

The section on levy funding has been struck through. Unless it's put back in somewhere else, that's a pretty significant change for smaller districts.

-SDD

NO 1240 said...


"Let's also keep in mind that in every other state with charters, there's always pressure to relax oversight and numerical limits on charters. Magendanz would be happy with pretty much any bill that can pass the legislature, as he assumes he and his allies will be able to put the things they want back in the coming years.'

I am in COMPLETE agreement with Robert.


"Article 3, Section 22 states, "The superintendent of public instruction shall have supervision over all matters pertaining to public schools." It does not say supervision over "all public schools." If that were the case, local school boards would be unconstitutional entities."

As is, SPI will NOT have supervision regarding matters pertaining to charter schools. It is important to remember that SB 6194 puts SPI on the Charter Commission. The Charter Commission is to consist of 9 APPOINTED and PRO Charter individuals. The SPI's voice is essentially meaningless.

I stand with Melissa. The court will decide.

As well, the court will have continued issues regarding the funding mechanism and charter schools remain under the governance of an appointed board and local and elected oversight is to be questioned.

NO 1240 said...

"To the extent that they are public schools, the SPI would have supervision over their standards, assessments, teacher certification, etc. as I read the various court rulings on the matter; thus, the SPI's supervision authority is not undermined by charter schools since they required to teach the state content standards, administer the state assessments and be held accountable to the results, etc."

SPI's authority extends beyond standards, assessments etc.

Teacher Greg said...

What a waste of time and money that could have gone to solving actual problems and funding actual schools instead of faux educators, consultants and their PR machine.

Gerry Pollet said...

Text of the proposed substitute bill for House floor consideration is here:
http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2015-16/Pdf/Amendments/House/6194-S2.E%20AMH%20SPRI%20H4714.2.pdf

This is called a "striking amendment" which has been added to floor calendar for tomorrow. There may be an amendment to restore language for the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the (unelected) chair of the State Board of Education to be on the Commission. Otherwise the Commission remains a group of cheerleaders for charters, who are barred from being skeptics in order to be eligible to be appointed. Putting the cheerleaders in charge of the oversight and authorization led to incredibly lax authorization and failure to even ensure that parents knew from the charter school operators that the schools might be held unconstitutional.

The amendment proposes to add what is called an emergency clause to prevent a referendum from being held on the bill. So much for the chant of respect the will of the voters. The initiative barely passed in a low turnout year. In a presidential election year, it would likely fail.

Patrick said...

Welcome to the sausage factory.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you, Gerry. I've just gone thru comparing the initiative to this bill. There are good and bad things. As well, you are right; there should be language in there about any authorizer protecting prospective families from issues like lawsuits. Charters should have to disclose all these issues to families.

Still two main issues;
- funding charter schools before McCleary fulfillment
- that this bill is NOT the "will of the people" because it is significantly different from what was voted on.

Just say no.

Anonymous said...

Just a question for Gerry Pollet - wasn't 2012 a presidential election year?
- Facts matter

NO 1240 said...

SB 6194 will not pass constitutional muster. As well, as charter schools proliferate, there will be insufficient funds in OPA to cover existing expenses and increased numbers of charter schools.

Charter bills should NOT be brought to the floor based on the funding of charter schools- alone.

"The legislation, Senate Bill 6194, attempts to get around the issue by funding the schools, not through the state's taxpayer-supported general fund, but through the Opportunity Pathways Account, which is fed by revenue from state lottery sales. During the last fiscal year, the account provided more than $348 million in scholarships and student loan repayment assistance. The bill would divert $18 million from the account to support the charter schools program but would then replenish the lost scholarship money with $18 million from the general fund.
The bill's supporters must be counting on the Supreme Court to look the other way as taxpayer money goes in one door and out the other."

Anonymous said...

So is Inslee going to veto whatever passes? I have been unimpressed with his lack of leadership in most areas of our state's issues. Especially with schools. He has punted on most everything. I hate to think it but I have: McKenna might have done a better job. Couldn't do worse than Inslee on education. This previously dedicated D will be watching what Inslee does if the bill goes in front of him.

SavvyVoter

Charlie Mas said...

@aka, each year the Board has to submit a plan for each school to the OSPI. While I'm not sure if it has ever failed to happen, the OSPI has to approve the plan for every school.

In Seattle, the school CSIPs are the plans. They are certified by the Board each year around November. It's a motion on the Board Agenda.

Teacher Greg said...

McKenna would want to do to Washington what that Koch brothers abomination Walker did to Wisconsin.... So I think it could have been much worse....

Anonymous said...

Charlie, those plans are submitted to the State Board for approval. Districts use the OSPI electronic system to submit them, but they're "approved" by the SBE.

If that's your basis of your argument, it would seem to undermine your SPI supervision authority argument.

--- aka

Charlie Mas said...

aka, I believe you are correct and I was mistaken.

Hina Khan said...

The last change is one that is also good to see because it was just shady and immoral all around.

5th class result 2016