Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The View from a Legislator on the Charter Fight

Diane Ravitch has this from Rep. Mike Sells, 38th Legislative District.  It is all the things that some of us knew were going on (and probably going on.)  The last paragraph - on the House debate and all those amendments? Watching the action, you could tell that at least some of it was prearranged because that's how smug and dismissive some of the Republicans were.  (emphasis mine)

Just say no, Governor.

What is not mentioned here, is the proponents literally disappearing when it comes to full funding for the public schools. Despite their protestation during the regular session that they believed that the funding should take place, they are nowhere to be found or even commenting much on blogs other than bragging about their coup. The 22 highly paid lobbyists brought in cleared the halls the day after the vote and are nowhere to be seen on the funding of public schools issue.

The bragging by proponents of spending on two six figure ad buys has not translated over to helping the public schools. You know big money was being spent when Strategies 360 lobbyists were outside the door plunking for a vote along with the usual ‘astroturf’ groups.

A number of us raised amendments on the charter school bill that were turned down. Rep. Drew Hansen suggested temporary funding for the current 8 [charters] until we could figure out the funding issues. That was a no. 

I proposed that charter schools use the same Teacher/Principal Evaluation Programs that we passed in 2010 for the public schools, if we believed in the importance of teacher quality. (You can find roll calls on many of these amendments) That was a no. 

Suggestions to make the governance more transparent and open were also turned down, which I believe will only add to the unconstitutionality of the new bill.

Only those that had pre-acceptance by charter school proponents seemed to make it through out of the 27 amendments on the House floor. Even proposing that charter school board members file public disclosure forms like other appointed public officials do was at first opposed on the House floor, but actually made it through, when opponents realized that appointed Board members in this state do file them already in other areas. 

We are now in special session with the supplemental budget, and it has been complicated by the millions slated for charter schools. No more funding is pointed toward settling the court ordered funding for the public schools, and we are facing possible cuts due to a so-called levy cliff.

Rep. Mike Sells, 38th Legislative District


mirmac1 said...


No 1240 said...

"I proposed that charter schools use the same Teacher/Principal Evaluation Programs that we passed in 2010 for the public schools, if we believed in the importance of teacher quality. (You can find roll calls on many of these amendments) That was a no. "

Hypocricy. Charter schools are known for hiring Teach For America and these individuals have 5 weeks training. Put high need kids in with inexperienced teachers. How will teachers in charter schools be evaluated?

Anonymous said...

When it comes to John Kasich and public education.... he appears to be Scott Walker 2.1 --- Charter Schools and more.

So now the question is: what about Jay Inslee?

Is Jay leading or hiding in shadows?

McCleary & Charters what is up?

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked, shocked that Mike Sells --- labor union employee --- is opposed to charter schools. Who would have thought? I'm as equally shocked that union mouthpiece Diane Ravitch added him to her honor roll.

Here's a couple of inconvenient facts: (1) Charter school teachers will already have to be evaluated using TPEP because they have to meet the same certification rules that all other Washington teachers have to meet. His amendment was voted down because it was redundant.

(2) Mike Sells has offered ZERO legislation to fully fund basic education. Where is his revenue bill? He hasn't even offered a specific proposal. What are these highly paid lobbyist supposed to lobby for? Didn't the Governor's McCleary bill already pass the legislature and didn't he already sign it?

Citizen Kane

seattle citizen said...

CK, you write that charter teachers "will have to" be evaluated using TPEP. Have all the teachers in the "charter" schools that opened in the fall in WA all had their fall goal-setting meetings and their mid-year meetings under TPEP? Their documented observations? We can expect that come spring they will be rated under TPEP? The current "charter" teachers, I mean?

NO 1240 said...

Of course....first ALE/charter schools must get their monthly student reports in......;)

Anonymous said...

SC, technically, there are no charter schools in WA. I don't believe that teachers working under contract have to be evaluated using TPEP, but I could be wrong about that. If I'm not, teachers working under contract with Mary Walker School District --- as opposed to those who are employees of MWSD --- would be required to be evaluated under TPEP.

So, I don't expect that they will be rated this spring.

When Governor Inslee signs SB 6194, then a system will be in place to evaluate all teachers working in charter public schools using TPEP. That system isn't obviously in place at this time.

Citizen Kane

Anonymous said...

I meant, teachers working under contract...would NOT be required to be evaluated under TPEP.


seattle citizen said...

Why weren't they already being evaluated under TPEP this year? They started the year as certificated teachers working in classrooms...Thus, if they were not being evaluated under TPEP they were in violation of RCW.
Hadn't they planned to be under TPEP? Did they all decide of a sudden that since they were no longer "charter" schools they just wouldn't do TPEP this year....because they didn't have to?
Seems lame.
I doubt they were even thinking about TPEP in September, but that's just my opinion. They're CHARTERS - rules and regs don't apply to them, right?

Anonymous said...

I get it, SC. Your hatred and contempt for charter schools and the families and educators that choose them is palpable. There's no need to continue the onslaught of vitriol and unfounded accusations you regularly hurl at them. We get it. You hate charters and your own well-being is threatened by their existence.

And amid your own criticism of charter schools, I hope you turn keen observation toward the regular violations of rules and regs and civil rights protections as well as malfeasance of the Seattle Public Schools.

Citizen Kane

seattle citizen said...

Wow, CK, perfectly mouthed charter talking points and deflections! I was wondering if charters were, in fact, even attempting to hold themselves to rules and regs, and you take that and claim I hate and feel contempt for charter families and educators. Of course that's what you do: it's the preferred methodology of charter salespeople everywhere.
I don't hate families and educators. I DO criticize them for being unaccountable. And as you note, they have themselves, evidently, continued to be unaccountable by, evidently, not following TPEP this year. Maybe they didn't HAVE to, but they could have...
We regularly criticize public schools for malfeasance. Teachers are held accountable under TPEP. Your attack against me is a deflection and holds no water.

Anonymous said...

I won't respond to you again, SC. Life is too short to deal with your hatred and vitriol toward charter schools, their supporters and the families and educators that choose them. You didn't deny your hatred of charter schools above, so I'll take it as fact.

There's no convincing you of any value and benefit of charter schools for students, families, and our public education system. And I'm not interested in any more back and forth with you. You can address me directly in the future, but I won't respond.

"A man with conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point." --- Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger

Citizen Kane

seattle citizen said...

Yay, CK! You were able to TWICE repeat the falsehood that I hate charter families and their supporters! Perfect! Exactly pro forma.
I merely said that I doubted "charter" (or whatever they're called) educators were following TPEP.
I don't hate charters; I just find them un-necessary and a danger to the ideals of public education.

Jeez, CK, I'm glad you're not responding to my comments anymore - your responses are filled with false accusations and deflections. Stick with the arguments rather than creating straw men.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The Governor's McCleary bill? How's he in the legislature?

It's downright fascinating the number of things that the former charter schools are able to do right now with little real supervision over them. Trying to wrestle public disclosure documents is one of them. I'm having this issue with Green Dot right now because they want to mail me a large number of documents. Me? I'd like them electronically (especially since I'm sure the majority are e-mails) but they said they already printed them. So at more cost to them and against what I asked for, they still want to mail them.

And, all the charters that I made requests to have made me wait months and months for documents from schools that have only been open for several months.

Cheezman said...

I don't think Sell's criticism is fair. And I wish our public discourse could happen without loaded language that leaves no room open for intellectually honest debate ("literally disappear"(btw, if that statement is "literally" true, then Sells is "literally" hallucinating), "highly paid lobbyists," "bragging"; loaded and unhelpful language all).

Anyway, why I don't think what he says is fair is that a) it is (former)charter schools that are fighting for their (literal) existence, not public schools. So it's understandable they wouldn't be at all focused, this session, on McCleary. And, b) the legislature has made it crystal clear they will not deal with McCleary this year. Such a line of argument (or complaint) therefore is just plain weak.

I've had several discussions with other Charter parents about McCleary; many of us with kids in the traditional public schools and nearly all have said that they will be there for McCleary when that is finally addressed. Sorry Sells, you are wrong. Then, it will be the Republicans in our sights and won't that feel like things are back to normal!

John Zilavy

Oh my said...

"I don't think Sell's criticism is fair."

Pouring 22 lobbyists into Olympia is fair?

"Anyway, why I don't think what he says is fair is that a) it is (former)charter schools that are fighting for their (literal) existence, not public"

Superior court didn't find charter schools to be Common Schools and they opened anyway. The Supreme Court's finding should come as no surprise, but they opened anyway.

Our Supreme Court ruled and charter schools, with the support of Gates, decided to circumvent the constitution.

Tell me about "fair"...again.

Oh MY said...

"So it's understandable they wouldn't be at all focused, this session, on McCleary"

Ignoring the needs of 1M students is fair?

Anonymous said...

Oh my, you are correct that the Superior Court didn't find charter schools to be common schools. However, they found that and the ability of the legislature to fund the schools out of the General Fund to be severable. Meaning, even if they weren't common schools, the legislature still had the ability to fund the schools out of the General Fund as long as they didn't use the Common School Fund to do so.

It was the Supreme Court's bizarre logic that the legislature couldn't do this because Common School Funds and funds from the General Fund were co-mingled, thus not allowing the charter schools to be funded out of the General Fund. What lawyer could have predicted that the Supreme Court would create a precedent that the entire General Fund was unconstitutional (without really calling it unconstitutional)? If the Common School Funds were co-mingled with the General Fund, under the SC's logic, nothing but common schools could be funded out of the General Fund.

Using the SC's charter school ruling, health care, mental health, parks, etc. all unconstitutionally funded out of the General Fund. People should expect a lawsuit following this legislative session declaring the Supplemental Budget unconstitutional on the grounds that health care, mental health, etc. are funded out of the General Fund, co-mingled with the Common School Fund.

--- aka

seattle citizen said...

It's all the same pot of money, taxpayer money, no matter which piles are moved where. Paying for charters means paying for charters, no matter which fund it comes from.

Now they want to pay for charters out of the Opportunity money - money that SHOULD be going to scholarships, etc. So that pile of money will be spent on charters instead of those scholarships, meaning other money will have to be found to top off the Opportunity fund, money better spent on the 1.1 million students in public schools.

Charters want to play shell games. Hopefully, if Inslee signs the new law it will be brought before the court again, where it will lose because Justice isn't blind to shenanigans.

NO 1240 said...

The charter school and funding problem relates to the lack of local and elected oversight.

I've noted that OSPI apportionment to Summit Sierra was $11K per student. Other charter schools and school districts receive $6K per student. Arguments that charter schools receive less funding per pupil does not appear consistent.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Cheezman, if charters are public schools, they should have had the grace to publicly stand with other public school parents on McCleary. They just decided, from the start of the session, that they knew nothing would happen and so why make the effort? C'mon. And, of course, if they survive and the McCleary ruling is finally fulfilled, how nice for them that their schools will get more money when they put forth zero effort.

The time to be for McCleary was months ago. Or now. But they'll wait for the next session and THEN advocate? Hope they don't stand next to any real public school parents.

Anonymous said...

"But they'll wait for the next session and THEN advocate? Hope they don't stand next to any real public school parents."


Citizen Kane

NO 1240 said...

I never believed the privatizers wanted to fund education, this year. They were more concerned about saving their schools. I also believe that McLeary will be tied to charter schools.

One privatizer felt other educational reforms shouldn't be funded if charter schools weren't funded.

Cheezman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheezman said...

Melissa, Whether or not Charters should have also come out for a McCleary fix is a valid question to ask regarding strategy and I would be surprised if it were not discussed. Deciding not to include McCleary in a short session year, when legislatures were making it pretty clear that they were kicking the can to 2017, likewise seems like a reasonable decision under the circumstances.

Two other points, one speculative and one not: a) I can't imagine that if Charter people had pushed for a McCleary fix this year that it would have made any difference in the outcomes; and, b) I don't know of any overtures to Charters by Paramount Duty or any other group advocating this year for McCleary to join forces. (I expect you'd know better than me if that happened).

Finally, why do you make that last comment that you hope no charter school parents will stand next to "real" public school parents? If we get to that point, wouldn't you want all the help possible on McCleary? I'm a "real public school parent" AND a Charter parent and so are most of the other Charter parents I know. I understand your position. I just wish so many didn't see a need to make gratuitous divisive statements.

WPD said...

The WPD group wants funding. Other than that, they are unwilling to take a position- on anything.

Anonymous said...

Good for WPD. Seems like they want a large tent of people focused on fully funding schools, instead of taking toxic and divisive positions that alienate would-be allies.

Citizen Kane