Gloves Off

Things are heating up in the charter school bill race.

To bring you up-to-date, both the House and the Senate bills failed to make it out of committee.  The heads of those committees, Sharon Tomiko Santos and Rosemary McAuliffe, held them back.  (Tomiko Santos said on KUOW the House bill did not have the votes to make it out of committee.)  This, of course, did not sit well with its sponsors (and, of course, the Times, LEV, Stand, etc.)

Now, reportedly, what has happened is some back-door dealing over the various teacher assessment bills and the charter bills.  Publicola puts it all together in their report.  From the Tacoma News Tribune:

After a weekend of negotiations managed by Gov. Chris Gregoire, a deal has been reached on  competing education reform bills.

One sponsored by Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Bellevue) —and supported by education reformers in sync with the President Obama/Arne Duncan agenda (though not many local Democrats)—explicitly ties student performance to teacher evaluations; evaluations that would also play a direct role in salary and hiring and firing. The other, sponsored by Rep. Kristine Lytton (D-40, Anacortes)—and supported by the teachers union—would have allowed school districts to use student achievement as a metric in teacher evaluations, but not mandated it. Additionally, the Lytton bill would not have mandated that hiring and firing be based on the evaluations.

Publicola goes on:

Supporters of Sen. Tom’s approach for stricter and more specific evaluation standards—a coalition Republicans and moderate Democrats (and some progressives such as state Rep. Eric Pettigrew)—have used the budget as a bargaining chip, saying their education reform agenda was a “go home” issue (meaning they wouldn’t support the budget unless ed reform measures went through.)

Their other agenda item, charter schools, is reportedly not part of the deal. (bold mine)

Publicola is cautious in stating this is a fluid situation.

Part of this dealing was with Senator Ed Murray (who happens to be my senator).  He apparently thought that the ole' "scratch my back" idea was worth it for getting the budget he wanted in exchange for some sort of charter plan.  Again from Publicola:

However, with the League hyping him, Pettigrew is pushing forward with his bills. He told PubliCola last week, after his bill died in committee, that he was pushing for a “laboratory version” that would set up a limited charter test pilot exclusively in south Seattle. Pettigrew reportedly has gotten speaker of the house Rep. Frank Chopp (D-43, Wallingford) to consider the plan. That’s because the education reforms have become key to securing a budget deal.

In the senate, a powerful contingent of moderate Democrats have allied with Republicans who support the bills. Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Bellevue) and Republican Sen. Steve Litzow (R-41, Mercer Island) are sponsoring companions to Pettigrew’s bills, and have forced the Democratic leadership (including the governor, who’s sworn against charters) to hold lengthy negotiation sessions over the bills this weekend in exchange for supporting the budget.

In fact, liberal senate ways & means chair, Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill), is co-sponsoring the evaluation bill and resurrected both bills in his budget committee after the senate education committee chair Sen. Rosemary McAullife (D-1, Bothell) tabled them a week earlier.

A couple of things.  One, the lab idea?  Guess who had a bill setting up lab schools (for low-performing schools) paired with four-year public university?  Senator Marcie Maxwell.  But it died and I have to wonder where Rep. Pettigrew was if he thinks this is such a great idea.

Two, if some of the "road-kill" Dems want to hold up budget work, that's on them.  But I wouldn't be held hostage to them.

Three, Senator Ed Murray might want to reconsider helping them.  He needs all the support he can get for fighting off the now-filed challenge to the just-signed gay marriage bill.  I will absolutely vote against any ballot measure to undo that law.  But will I give my time and resources to that effort?  Not if Murray comes out helping charter school legislation.

Also, if he thinks that his friend, Senator Tom is going to stand with him through the hard times and support his re-election, he might want to rethink who his friends are.  It's not Tom's constituents in Bellevue and Medina.

The fight is on and yet all we can know is that ...the fight will continue.

If the charter bill gets passed, there will be a challenge on the ballot.

If the charter bill doesn't get passed, either a challenge on the ballot or bringing it up again next session.  (Although putting it on the ballot would go against Senator Tom's belief that "you don't gamble on education" issues by putting them on the ballot.  Oh, we only "gamble" on voting for President.  Senators.  You know, petty stuff like that.

It seems like the teacher assessments are more a priority for some legislators than charters this session.  My prediction is that the charter bill will not pass this session but will come back in some form or another somehow, someway.


Anonymous said…
"Three, Senator Ed Murray might want to reconsider helping them. He needs all the support he can get for fighting off the now-filed challenge to the just-signed gay marriage bill. I will absolutely vote against any ballot measure to undo that law. But will I give my time and resources to that effort? Not if Murray comes out helping charter school legislation."

Melissa -

That you would change your level of support for gay marriage (i.e. threatening not to give your time and resources to the effort) based on Murray supporting charters is BEYOND disappointing to me. Tying up my civil rights with your pet issue of being against charter schools is really sad if not downright mean-spirited.

- Gay and Neutral on Charters
mirmac1 said…
I am less inclined to lend my full support to fair-weather democrats as well. Of course I would strongly oppose an initiative on the gay marriage bill.

This no different than my feelings for Barack Obama. I will vote for him, of course, but won't be waving any campaign signs for the dude.
Sorry you feel that way but it's not a "pet" issue. Nor is gay marriage - that, too, is personal to me.

But you can support a cause by voting for its support but you can also register your unhappiness to legislators for the lack of support for causes that mean something to you.

I think it sad when a legislator has an important cause that you support and do what they ask and then they turn around and not only NOT support groups they get support from (for example, unions), they support people in opposition to those groups.

Again, if Murray wants to play political footsie with Senator Tom, that's his choice. It is also my choice where I put my money and time.
Anonymous said…
I am going to send the following link to Ed Murray regarding charters in Chicago.

These are supposed to be public schools but they are allowed to charge a fee to families for disciplinary infractions.
It is appalling.

Daily Kos also has a dairy on this today.

Anonymous said…
so let's pit the unemployed against welfare for the 1% - the 1% who wrecked the economy with their legalized gambling, NOT by bad investment in ... vacuum tubes production.

Ooops! wrong place and time! that was Washington D.C.! and that was Dec. 2010, NOT Feb. 2012!

BUT - it is still "Democrats"!!

So our 2 day a week Democratic Governor has accepted Microsoft's and Boeing's expertise on having a complacent and terrified labor and force - and Ms. 2 Day a Week Democrat has accepted THEIR lies that, due to the court cases and the inability to cut education any further, the teachers must "sacrifice".

Of course, those who had the most authority and the most rewards made sure they had NO accountability - so the budget disaster they created is now dumped on the working stiffs!

Unlike mirmac1, I'll be writing in phake names for really phake candidates, instead of checking off the boxes next to Democratic legislators who are cowards -

and who let Gay Marriage be pitted against teachers.

Josh Hayes said…
Don't be distracted by a Melissa's toss-off line. The inevitable anti-marriage-equality initiative will go down in flames regardless of whether Melissa supports it, but Senator Murray needs to be reminded he should dance with them what brung him, not them with the fattest wallets.

That's what's really disappointing about this whole thing: it's such a blatant reminder that money can make law, whether people want it or not. Corporate money wants access to public money, and mirabile dictu, dead legislation rises up. I shall refer to charter schools as "zombie schools" in the future.

And tying teachers' careers to "student progress", when measuring that progress is not precisely described, is ludicrous. We've all seen how the MAP results have been rejiggered - does that mean teachers have suddenly become less (or more!) effective, with the movement of MAP scores? Of course not. It's idiotic, and it's idiocy in our name. Tell them you'd prefer not to be an idiot.
Charlie Mas said…
Gloves off is right.

I have written to all of my state representatives - something I rarely bother to do - and encouraged them to fight charter schools.

I have written to Senator Murray and voiced my opposition to charter schools.

I have also written to Representative Pettigrew and advised him that I will be working hard to defeat him when his term of office is up.

Please, please contact your representatives. You have no idea how few messages it takes to influence these folks.

Mitt Romney made national news for winning the Maine GOP caucuses, but look at the numbers. Only about 5,500 people voted and Mr. Romney only got about 2,000 votes. Think about that. 2,000 people out of the entire state of Maine vote for Mr. Romney and it's a big win for him. And that's national politics. It takes many fewer people to move things in local politics.

The money is on the other side. We don't have that kind of money on our side. We need people. We need people to send an email or make a phone call. I know it seems futile; it isn't.
Anonymous said…
To: - Gay and Neutral on Charters

"Tying up my civil rights with your pet issue of being against charter schools is really sad if not downright mean-spirited."

The fact that you think the survival of public education is a "pet issue"-- and not a civil rights issue -- smacks of elitism and/or white privilege. (Yes, I'm assuming your race based on your ignorance of civil rights. How does it feel?) Your sexual orientation does not shield you from being part of the problem, whether motivated by political selfishness or bigotry. Your narrow perspective is sad and downright mean-spirited in my book.

--Equal Rights for ALL Children
Someone said…
Charlie's right - the more voices that chime in on this issue, the more panicked the Legislators get - I used to work in Olympia and have seen this first hand. Happy voters are a commodity they can't do without. Speak up and let them know you are unhappy with this legislation.
Don't forget to use the link on our homepage if you need help finding your reps or their contact info.
Anonymous said…
I think our Reps must do what they think to hang on to their jobs and to pass ed bills to show they are hard at work. Our legislators have given up on finding ways to fund Basic Ed. They think it's too hard to do. They can use the poor economy as the perfect excuse (and they want voters to forget even in our boom years, they couldn't do that either). So they are giving up. It's just too hard!

For Pettigrew, his whisperers probably has him convinced this is the best way to build personal political leverage while helping his constituents at home. Kill 2 birds with one stone. Does he know the teachers eval and charter bills will actually benefit other interests more than school kids in his district? Maybe, but not enough to stop.

There are also parents here who are salivating at the idea of charter schools as the bill will allow them to design their own schools on taxpayer dimes. If it means using the charter language to aim at struggling poor kids to make the sell, so be it. That's politics! The language in the charter bill has enough vagueness and loopholes that after its passage, you can have charter schools in Sandpoint or Issaquah highlands. Does it matter by splitting up "public schools", we will spend more on admin overhead and redistributing the insufficient moneypot that we have to benefit fewer students at the cost of most students? NO! As long as it appears we are moving forward. It's all about action. It doesn't matter if it's 1 step forward and 5 steps back.

As to teacher eval, the education testing companies have hit the jackpot. More money for testing to provide more data to mine with. Afterall, MAP can predict, provide, evaluate everything in numbers. Eventually, it will be these tests that will determine what our kids will learn and that is a good thing because now we can control what kids learn. Teachers will know exactly what to teach so more kids will pass the tests. Teachers will have hard core numbers to show they are good enough to keep around. The ones that can't, can move on. Easy peasy. No more nuances, no more excuses, just straight graphs going up and down like financial forecasts. What's more reliable than making decisions based on proven data? Bottom line to universal education is about creating an "educated" and malleable workforce, not necessarily about learning (that's reserved for the few).

Polticians can high five and move on to other things. Will it work? Doesn't it matter? They have addressed the education question. We who must exist in this public system will be divided, stuck in figuring out ways to game, gamble, outwit the SYSTEM. It will be a brutal, fear and axiety ridden, free market world to live, learn, and work in.

This was never about educating ALL our kids. It's about politics, power, and the appearance of caring to benefit the few. These folks want us to become jaded, fight with each other, and give up.

-frustrated, but not giving up
Sahila said…
In the wake of “National School Choice Week,” COPAA is pleased to release the brief Charter Schools and Students with Disabilities: Preliminary Analysis of the Legal Issues and Concerns written by the Center for Law and Education under contract with COPAA. The stated purpose of National School Choice Week is to “shine a spotlight on effective education options for every child.” Charter schools have long been touted as one of the most promising educational choice options, yet the research remains limited, inconsistent, and for the most part, inconclusive as to whether charter school students are actually more effectively learning and performing than students of similar backgrounds enrolled in traditional public schools. Disturbingly, data shows that students with disabilities (especially low incidence, more significant disabilities) are denied meaningful access to and a free appropriate public education within charter schools.

Anonymous said…
Is there a way to email every legislator at once? Or do you have to copy and paste and reformat the list found on the link on SSS front page?

StepJ said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mirmac1 said…
"Tom suggested a more effective way toward improving Washington's schools would be to rank every teacher in each school district according to their evaluation and then fire the bottom 1 percent each year."

What a _ool.
Catherine said…
I had an interesting conversation with a pro-charter candidate day before yesterday. He stated that he was for charters because he'd been unable to set up an alternative school in Issaquah. It was "too hard." This is from one of the people in Olympia pushing for this bill. I'm inclined to use that conversation in the letters to my legislators. His response when I asked about the Stanford study results were "Why does everyone refer to the Stanford study?!!!"

Need to make time to write the letter. sigh. Which job do I give up so that I have time?
Disgusted said…
"Tom suggested a more effective way toward improving Washington's schools would be to rank every teacher in each school district according to their evaluation and then fire the bottom 1 percent each year."

This guy has lost his mind.

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