Randy Dorn Comes Out Against Charter Legislation

From OSPI, Randy Dorn on Education Reform:

January 2012 - State Superintendent Randy Dorn is pleased that education reform will be front and center during the 2012 legislative session. Dorn believes – and hopes legislators agree – that discussions around education reform must be mindful of the Supreme Court’s January 6 ruling on McCleary v. State, which held that the state isn’t providing adequate funding for basic education.
Here are Dorn’s positions on the major reform issues:
  1. Improve/remove.
    Teachers who are not successful ought to be given every opportunity to improve. If they cannot improve, superintendents need the flexibility to remove those teachers without employing current expensive and unwieldy legal procedures. The Superintendent’s request legislation would change a teacher’s tenured status to “provisional” (instead of “continuing”) if that teacher gets two consecutive “unsatisfactory” ratings.
  2. Charter schools.
    Charter school legislation has been voted down three times by Washington voters, in 1996, 2000 and 2004. While much can be accomplished through charter schools, public alternative schools and other school district-managed schools also can foster innovation. Washington has many very innovative schools in our state. We need to encourage more innovation in our public schools, but any move to create charter schools should go to a vote of the people.
  3. University laboratory schools.
    Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed that six university-led “laboratory schools” be created. The universities would partner with the state’s lowest performing five percent of schools, measured in terms of student achievement. Together, the universities and schools would implement innovative practices to help the schools improve. The idea of university-led schools is worthwhile, but the program should be managed by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  4. Governance.
    Improving the transition between high school and college is a worthwhile goal. The Washington Constitution, though, is very clear about K-12 public education. Article III, Section 22, states that the State Superintendent “shall have supervision over all matters pertaining to public schools, and shall perform such specific duties as may be prescribed by law.” Any laws passed that create new education agencies or structures must keep that in mind.
  5. Health care.
    A recent report by the Health Care Authority looked into whether consolidating health insurance plans for public school employees might save the state money in the long run. At this time, there are about 200 plans available for the state’s 200,000 workers. Now is the time to support reform to make the K-12 health care system more efficient and uniform.
  6. Teacher/Principal evaluations.
    The new evaluation system for teachers and principals will transform the way those educators are evaluated, which in turn will have a profound effect on how students are taught. The work is crucial to the future of education in Washington. The program must be fully funded, and we should support any ideas to strengthen it. The Superintendent supports a more efficient system to evaluate and, if necessary, remove low-performing teachers.
  7. Reduction in force, assignment and due process.
    Proposals to alter how teachers are laid off due to reductions in force, or how they are assigned to specific buildings, must consider the reality of collective bargaining and existing contracts.


Anonymous said…
I don't want to underestimate the lobbying effort in Olympia for charters and I certainly don't want to make a prediction, but I will say that it would be extraordinary if a bill that was sponsored by significantly more Republicans than Democrats passed both chambers of a Democratically controlled legislature and then was signed into law by a Democratic governor.

Here are the bills and sponsors:

HB 2428 is sponsored by 9 Republicans (Anderson, Dahlquist, Harris, Hinkle, Walsh, Zeiger, Haler, Wilcox, and Fagan) and 6 Democrats (Pettigrew, Finn, Eddy, Springer, Seaquist, and Hargrove).

SB 6202 is sponsored by 9 Republicans (Litzow, Baumgartner, Fain, Ericksen, Hill, Becker, Delvin, King, and Hewitt) and 5 Democrats (Tom, Kastama, Shin, Hobbs, and Hatfield).

Of course, different charter bills with different sponsors could soon be submitted. If this session is like last session, we can expect chaos from an unfocused legislature.

Anonymous said…
Thank the Ed Reform groups, specifically Stand for Children and League of Education Voters, & Democrats for Education Reform for insisting on pushing these bills when they knew that severe funding issues needed to be the top priority of legislature, and that the long-awaited gay marriage measure had queued itself up long ago as the paramount social issue to be tackled this session.

These groups tactics leave something big to be desired. I agree with other critics that LEV has tarnished its reputation for pushing this. (From the way they operate in other states, I expected as much from Stand and DFER.)

The 37th Democrats, home of Pettigrew, aren't happy.

Sahila said…
Charter schools better than public schools??? Jury's still out, say researchers: WE STILL DONT KNOW MUCH ABOUT CHARTER SCHOOLS
I think PTSA's image is tarnished. When parents realize that they are pushing this WITHOUT consultation OR education, they are not going to be happy.

Whether you like charters or not, nobody likes to be co-opted.
Disgusted said…
"Thank the Ed Reform groups, specifically Stand for Children and League of Education Voters, & Democrats for Education Reform for insisting on pushing these bills when they knew that severe funding issues needed to be the top priority of legislature"

Throw WSPTSA into that batch.
anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said…
What I truly hope comes of the charter movement in WA state is that the charter bills don't pass, but districts across the state get a wake up call that families want more school choice, more option schools, and more alternative schools. I truly believe that option and alternative schools can fulfill the same needs that charters would but only if they are afforded the autonomy and support that they need to flourish.

SPS has not had a good track record of supporting our Alt schools in recent years. We closed Summit, threatened to close AS1 (3X), moved NOVA, threatened to move Center, severely reduced the draw for TOPS and Salmon Bay and ORCA, and have practically made Thornton Creek a neighborhood school. At the same time we have taken away much of their autonomy, and standardized them to a point where they are almost indistinguishable from traditional schools.

If we are going to stave off charters then we need to support the alt/option schools that we have, and start to cultivate and grow more alt/option schools. And we need to give those schools the autonomy that they need, and not strangle them with standardization and district mandated materials (NSF kits, Writers Workshop, EDM, etc).

If we can do that we have a fighting chance of staving off charters. If we cant or don't then we can welcome in charters. And I will be the first to jump on the charter bandwagon, because I do believe families need and deserve options.

Wonder what the new super and board will offer up in this area???

Disgusted said…
I find it interesting when ed. reformers support alternative forms of education such as charter schools. Aren't these the same people that support standardization, top heavy administration etc?
dan dempsey said…
The Charter Bill looks a lot like an RttT compliance action to try to finally win some fed money. ... It has zero merit.

SB 6202 - DIGEST
Authorizes new school models with alternative forms of school governance that focus on improving academic achievement for educationally disadvantaged students. Authorizes charter schools.
Establishes the Washington charter school commission as an independent state agency whose mission is to authorize high quality charter schools throughout the state, particularly schools designed to expand opportunities for educationally disadvantaged students.

But in the full Bill one find this:

(2) The legislature further finds that although there are multiple initiatives broadly intended to improve student achievement, including a small number of initiatives to address the educational opportunity gap for disadvantaged students generally, some schools continue to struggle in the current system. They are often hindered by outdated laws, rules, and practices and need much greater flexibility to innovate and quickly improve results for low-income students, students of color, English language learners, and others who are currently educationally disadvantaged. Incremental change has not been a successful strategy to turn around performance in every school, and a more dramatic transformation of school governance, staffing, leadership, and management is necessary.

(3) Therefore, the legislature intends to authorize new school models with alternative forms of school governance that focus on improving academic achievement for educationally disadvantaged students and have increased autonomy, flexibility, and oversight.
Establishes the transformation zone district as a statewide school district within the state.

This is an incredibly flawed analysis of the problem (which has to do with instruction of students) and Charters as a solution is completely without merit.

Most of the highly successful charters do at least one of the following....
(1) teach a selected set of the general student population
(2) have a summer session that is required for low achieving students
(3) have a longer school day
(4) Use instructional materials and practices that have been proven to work.
(5) Spend more $$$$ than the regular schools.
(6) Serve a smaller percentage of Special Education students than regular schools.

The bill's rationale is illogical ... like most of the direction coming from RttT.
Anonymous said…
DWE says:

"HB 2428 is sponsored by 9 Republicans (Anderson, Dahlquist, Harris, Hinkle, Walsh, Zeiger, Haler, Wilcox, and Fagan) and 6 Democrats (Pettigrew, Finn, Eddy, Springer, Seaquist, and Hargrove)."
Make that 10 Republicans and 5 Democrats. Rep. Mark Hargrove (R-47) is a very conservative Republican. You might have confused him with Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-24), who is a very conservative Democrat.
-- Ivan Weiss
Anonymous said…
"The 37th Democrats, home of Pettigrew, aren't happy."

There is talk that he will have a challenger. Of course, Pettigrew will be able to raise lots of money from Stand and the wealthy political elites who pour money into the campaigns of ed reform candidates.

"I think PTSA's image is tarnished." Is it the PTSA or the Washington PTSA? As I recall, according to the recent stakeholder survey, the approval rating for PTSAs was 60%, though, of course, the approval rating for teachers was over 20 points higher.

I am hoping that the Washington PTSA is capable of responding to member feedback. And I hope they get a lot of feedback.

I am interested in the legal challenges that a charter law might present in Washington State. Does anyone think that Section 2 of Article IX presents a problem for a charter law:

"The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools. The public school system shall include common schools, and such high schools, normal schools, and technical schools as may hereafter be established. But the entire revenue derived from the common school fund and the state tax for common schools shall be exclusively applied to the support of the common schools."

L.K. Beale, in a 1997 Washington Law Review Association Article, concluded that the "concept of 'independent' charter schools is inconsistent with the comprehensive constitutional plan."

Charlie Mas said…
Disgusted raised an intriguing contradiction, that Education Reform appears to support alternative forms of education, such as charter schools, and is all for innovation and experimentation, while, at the same time, appearing to support standardization and top heavy administration.

That's because Education Reform is not aligned along that axis. They aren't paying attention to whether something is standardized or not. That's not important to them. It's like a whole shelf of books about baseball with all different color covers.

Education Reform is aligned along a different idea: it's all about the money.

When it comes to public schools, the movement is all about reduced cost. Reducing the cost of public education will keep taxes down and allow the Education Reformers to keep more of their personal wealth. Since the greatest expense of education is teacher salaries, they are focused on way to bust the union, hire temporary teachers, and use technology to "leverage" the teachers' work. Every other industry has been able to increase productivity - except teaching, which remains a human endeavor based on a relationship between the individual student and a professional, creative, improvisational teacher. There's just no way to increase productivity there other than to increase class size, use a cheaper worker, or break the human relationship.

There's also a revenue side to Education Reform. Here they represent the interests of private businesses that want to sell things like assessments, technology, materials, even school management.

View it through a cash flow lens and everything the Education Reform movement does will make sense. All of the contradictions will be resolved.

They support standardization because it allows efficiency which reduces costs. All of the innovation that they support either reduces costs (Teach for America) or directs the funds into private hands (education technology companies). There is no contradiction.

There is one more cash flow to watch: the Harlem Children's Zone. This effort, which is the holy grail of Education Reform, appears to defy the "follow the money" formula because it is RIDICULOUSLY expensive. The same is true, to a lesser extent, for KIPP and Green Dot and other frequently cited models that cost more than public schools.

First, let's remember that this high visibility effort is not being repeated. It is the exception, not the rule. It is the one exceptional case that was created - like the poor kid who went to Harvard - to create the illusion that it is possible and was possible for you, but you just didn't try hard enough. KIPP and Green Dot aren't being copied so much as they are being expanded. I don't see anyone saying "Let's use KIPP-style practices at our public school to improve outcomes for our students."

Second, let's remember that all of the money donated to HCZ is tax deductible and actually goes on the corporate ledger as building "good will". Same for donations to KIPP or Washington STEM, the Alliance, or whatever.

Third, it provides an experimental space for the for-profit technology, materials, and management. This is a sound investment if it provides the data to support the sale of the stuff to public schools.

Follow the money - that's the consistent theme in Education Reform.
Ed said…
#5 is a whitewash "project" which is well known to have "ginned" up numbers (the company used lost at least one top actuary when he objected to false numbers to support pre-ordained conclusions).

The health care straw man is simply teacher bashing along with Stand and LEV.

I believe the whole thing is a costly boondagle that Senators Hobb's and Keiser are using to pretend reform while represnting the whole teacher bashing crowd.

Since when did public service become an avenue to avenge imagined slights against others?
dan dempsey said…
DWE --
uniform system of public schools. .... The Courts would likely use an extremely broad interpretation of uniform.

Yup they have windows a roof and a furnace ... so they are uniform.
The (uniform) state salary schedule came in around 1980 and was phased in over a few years. Leading to uniform salaries. Then when that did not work for high cost of living areas ... next came TRI money to supplement the State Salary schedule.

In the Los Angeles area the test scores for Green Dot are not so hot.
Actually someone sent me the law that DWE refers to; I think he/she may be right. I'll post it in its entirety and you can read it. Might be worth a court challenge.

As for Senator Tom's belief that voters shouldn't be deciding education issues, well, he might want to remember he was elected. I think voters get to decide a lot of issues including education. After all if they want our tax dollars, I think we get voice.

There's always an initiative.
Paul said…
One of the folks on the Sunday talk shows just said that voters really don't like it when elites play with numbers and facts to foist BS on the public.

I for one would like to see the letter Ed mentioned. Can someone post it please?
Noam said…
Is it a letter Ed, or some other kind of document?

We are interested as well.
Anonymous said…
WPTA redux:

Some of us would like to see more "T" in the PTSAs. I think it would be healthy to see more collaboration between parents and teachers in that organization. But I wonder how that will happen when the WPTA continues to aggressively pursue ed reform measures that are troubling to a large number of teachers.

I'm all for community-oriented public schools. I don't see how alienating large numbers of teachers leads to promoting community-oriented schools. It makes me wonder whether that isn't the point of the WPTA's reformist agenda, which, by the way, isn't limited to charter schools.

SPSLeaks said…

You wish is my command!

Noam said…
Holy cow SPSLeaks!

Dorn must know about that. Oh yeah, he's running and needs a "program" to promote. AND the Times. Where they been?

If the phony numbers get found out, its water under the bridge.
dan dempsey said…
So Mr. Dorn is against charters.... I wonder where he stands on cranking up the SBE Math Advisory panel that was canceled due to lack of funds?

Given that Greta B... failed to tell the Board that "Discovering" was found to be Mathematically unsound by the SBE .. just before the 4-3 approval vote and that she is still OSPI math program manager .... not likely he wants to see the SBE math panel back in action.... Those "Discovering Algebra" results were an EoC disaster. Who takes responsibility and accountability for that? Apparently no one.

Here is something to consider:

1. What is it we want our students to learn?
2. How will we know if our students are learning?
3. How will we respond, as a school, district, or state, when the students do not learn?
{{ Interventions?? Summer programs??? }}

Are Charters or SB 5914 seen as relevant to #3?

What I've seen is not look to OSPI or the legislature for guidance that leads to solutions on #3 or even reasonable responses.

Toppenish HS was the first high school in the state to rocket up to Level 5 due to AYP failures. OSPI interventions at that point lowered math scores on the grade 10 Math WASL even further.

This month it is expected that the progress reports on the first year of the schools who received funding for being "persistently under-achieving" will be coming from OSPI.

These funding winners put forth fairly uniform goals for growth over three years.... those goals were even more ambitious than MGJ's strategic plan goals that the SPS got no where near attaining on a five year plan.

Here is OSPI's statement on School funding, which is on the mark.

Here comes STEM funding from OSPI.

I congratulate all the lighthouse schools,” said Randy Dorn, state superintendent. “Each of them is taking a leadership role in STEM education and will serve as great models for the rest of the state.

STEM Lighthouse schools originated in 2010 with the Legislature’s passage of House Bill 2621.The bill directs the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to designate as many as three middle and three high schools each year as lighthouse schools. The schools “serve as resources and examples of how to combine the following best practices:

Small, highly personalized learning communities;

An interdisciplinary curriculum with a strong focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), delivered through a project-based instructional approach; and

Active partnerships with businesses and the local community to connect learning beyond the classroom.

continued ....
dan dempsey said…
continued from above ....

Mr. Dorn wrote this ... which I guess refers to SB 5914:
Teacher/Principal evaluations.
The new evaluation system for teachers and principals will transform the way those educators are evaluated, which in turn will have a profound effect on how students are taught. The work is crucial to the future of education in Washington. The program must be fully funded, and we should support any ideas to strengthen it. The Superintendent supports a more efficient system to evaluate and, if necessary, remove low-performing teachers.

So 3% of Teachers were found to be Unsatisfactory in the Chicago study using the Danielson method... and what exactly is the SB 5914 plan? How is this expected to increase student achievement in a State that finds education so important that Quality Counts ranked WA #42 out of 51 in Education funding?

WOW!! Mr. Dorn has better tea leaves than I do, if he believes that SB 5914 is a bill worth passing.

Read the fine print ... and forget pursuing an education teaching career in WA state.
Coe Girl said…
On the health care issue, it says a lot about our sick political culture that Dorn and others in Olympia use a phony report like the one they speak of, as a "reform".

Looks to me like the same old thing.

They should be ashamed.
Anonymous said…
Nice job laying it out, Charlie. Following the money provides 99% of the answers, and 100% of the rationale.

To all who consider charters as a possibility, or necessary log-jam breaker for your particular school or batch of needs, I caution you to pay attention to WHO is pushing this legislation and why.

I'm not anti-charter. I'm anti exploitation, anti-liar, anti-union-buster, anti-profit-making on others misery and at others expense.

With the Charter movement, the question is not wither charters, but who operates them and how. If it's any out-of-state operator like KIPP or GreenDot, treat them as the Barbarians at the Gate that they are.

Read up on how GreenDot manipulated parents in California to sign a "parent trigger" petition, without disclosing that the petition they were signing was to close their local school and turn it into a charter. The signature gatherers didn't disclose that fact to the parents who thought they were signing a typical, rather innocuous petition to gather support to improve their school. When the signers learned the truth, they tried to revoke their signatures, but the "parent trigger" fans conveniently leave out that part of the story whenever they mention the "parent trigger."

So beware the "parent trigger" talk as well. It's a wolf in sheep's clothing.

As Charlie revealed above, following the money connects all the dots. Hopefully fury and outrage will follow as we realize how dirty and shameless these Ed Reformers are as they plunder the public trough to enrich their "non-profits" and college buddies along the way, while constantly proclaiming they "represent students" as they line their "non-profit" pockets with dollars embezzled from our classrooms. WSDWG
Steeeeveeee said…
The idea of creating laboratory schools under the patronage of universities sounds very interesting and cool. It would be interesting to see how large companies help small ones, for example. Interestingly, it was called a laboratory. In fact, it really will be research and experiment. The main thing is that everything is accurate and does not make it worse. Although I have experience with the word laboratory positive due discountedlabs

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