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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tom Gets His Way; Charter Amendment Attached to Budget

Well, I did call it.  I knew Senator Tom wasn't the chicken crossing the road just to get to the other side.

From Publicola:

The big news: The budget takes back the $73 million in cuts to education that Republicans originally proposed and adds a charter schools amendment, authorizing 10 charters in chronically underperforming school districts.

And maybe this was the thought all along.  Give back money to education in return for charters.  Keep in mind, the charters WILL cost money both to districts and to the state so it's not like all the money gets put back.

It also repeals I-728 and I-732.  Wonder if LEV will say anything about that.

Update:What I found is this section of the budget:

$780,000 of the general fund--state appropriation for fiscal year 2013 is provided solely to implement Senate Bill No. 6202(establishing alternative forms of governance for certain public schools). The superintendent of public instruction will make funds available, via interagency agreement, to the office of the governor and the public employment relations commission as necessary to implement the bill. If the bill is not enacted by June 30, 2012, the amount provided in this subsection shall lapse. 

Fairly terse but it is the full bill.  I am curious about the last sentence because I have to wonder what could/would make this not happen by then.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can't say I'm surprised either at this underhanded development. I'm against charters, mainly due to the funds it will take away from the public schools, but I do have a question re: charters versus public schools.

It's been stated on this blog a few times that we don't need charters because we can do everything charters can within the public schools system. That may be technically true. However, it seems that many charters (including the Preuss school you wrote about earlier) have longer school days and a longer school year to try to improve student outcomes (not to mention smaller class sizes in some cases.) This seems like a no-brainer to me, but I don't see any way that this will ever happen in SPS given the budget and the teacher contract. We don't even want to make up missed snow days, much less extend the school year/day. Am I wrong here?

SPS Mom

Anonymous said...

ugh. well that's sorry. sneaking in charters. Does anyone know whether if it passes attached to the budget like this (v. as a standalone bill) - can it still be put to referendum, where WA residents can (hopefully) vote charters down AGAIN?

-madre

Anonymous said...

So Tom is now holding the state budget hostage. I'm not surprised. Munn was alluding to this in her FB post.

David said...

Not sure I understand, SPS Mom. Doing longer hours at a charter requires additional funds. Why couldn't an alternative school in SPS use a similar grant and do longer hours? Are there major grants that are only available to charter schools?

If it is true that Seattle cannot tap into large additional sources of funds without creating charters, then I think you make a good point, but is that actually the case?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, SPS Mom, it looks like under the Creative Approach MOU, it CAN be done.

It's all about negotiating it out with our labor partners. That takes work.

Any one - a charter or a district - can get grants. I don't know if there are grants to pay for extended day or year but again, it's all finessing what already exists.

Anonymous said...

SPS Mom,

The reason that some charter schools have longer days is that they receive outside funding. This funding can go away at a drop of a hat.

Unfortunately, around the country, because our public schools have not received adequate funding, school days have gotten shorter and school semesters have become shorter as well. The teacher's contract has nothing to do with how we have managed over the years to quietly adjust to deceased funding.

We don't need the next fad in ed reform, we need adequate funding of our schools.

Anonymous said...

And yes, there can be a referendum but let's hope that it doesn't come down to that.

What we need to do now is contact our legislators and let them know that holding our budget hostage like this is unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the creative MOU being sued for being illegal?

My guess is that there are more entities willing to give grants to charters than to a public school to help pay for longer hours/days/smaller class sizes. Is there any school run by SPS that has longer hours/days? Or do we not believe that to bring kids up to standard requires additional instructional time?

Plus, imagine the firestorm of protest if one non-option school within SPS actually had longer hours/days. Just look at the attitudes toward PTA funds.

I guess my point is that it seems much more likely that a parent community could get longer hours/days via a charter than working within the SPS system. I can see why there are people (not just ed reformers) who might think a charter school is worth a shot, particularly if there is a high percentage of kids below standard.

SPS Mom

Anonymous said...

Yeah, on the snow days. Funny how Enfield and admin are so quick to say, oh let's not make up snow days because the CBA has the next two make-up days at the end of the year. DeBelle harrumphs "well, then I want commitment from our labor partners for some real learning in June otherwise forget it".

What? Enfield couldn't call her BFFs at the SEA and do a quickie MOU "for the sake of the kids" and make up a snow day, like, TOMORROW?! They had since the second week in Jan. to think this one through! They sure whipped up that furlough one in a jif.

Mr Ed

Anonymous said...

Yeah, on the snow days. Funny how Enfield and admin are so quick to say, oh let's not make up snow days because the CBA has the next two make-up days at the end of the year. DeBelle harrumphs "well, then I want commitment from our labor partners for some real learning in June otherwise forget it".

What? Enfield couldn't call her BFFs at the SEA and do a quickie MOU "for the sake of the kids" and make up a snow day, like, TOMORROW?! They had since the second week in Jan. to think this one through! They sure whipped up that furlough one in a jif.

Mr Ed

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the double post.

Mr Ed

Melissa Westbrook said...

SPS Mom, I think West Seattle Elementary has a longer day (and two extra days in the year). Yes, it was done because it's a high-challenge school.

Worth a shot. Okay but it's a law, not a pilot program. Given what we know about charter school outcomes, you are likely to get the same outcomes or worse with a charter, all to try a longer day.

Charters come with no pledges. They don't have to have a longer day or a longer year. They don't have to serve high-need kids (read the bill - it's true). If the 10 spots aren't filled by charters that serve high-need kids, ANY charter must take their place.

When they start charters in Bellevue and Issaquah, I will have quite the laugh. I'm sure some of Senator Tom's constituents will do a spit-take and wonder why their districts will lose money to a charter.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Melissa. It looks like West Seattle Elementary's school day is 15 minutes longer than other elementary schools in SPS. I guess that's a start, but it's hardly the same as the hour or more promoted by many charters.

And, yes, I don't want the charter bill to pass and I understand all the things that are wrong with it. But I do see why many folks would be very happy to send their kids to a school with the rigor, expectations, and instructional time offered by Preuss.

SPS Mom

Maureen said...

I think all of the School Improvement Grant (SIG) Schools have longer days and years (I.e., Cleveland, Hawthorne and West Seattle Elementary). As I recall, Aki and Madrona do as well, but I don't know how they pay for it. But as SPS Mom points out they aren't significantly longer. One way that many schools effectively increase the length of the day, for some kids at least, is to offer after school tutoring/homework clubs and other academic extracurriculars (like Seattle U is providing at Bailey Gatzert and many schools provide through PTSA or Family and Educational Levy dollars.) So some of this is going on already with the cooperation of the SEA.

Anonymous said...

Fully fund Basic Ed first. Then we can start looking at longer days if it's appropriate for SOME kids. It's important not to stereotype kids' learning needs based on zip code alone. Better to have the adequate resources and smaller class size so that each child get quality instruction and quality instructional materials.

As for Sen. Tom's shenannigan, he probably has Goldman Sach 14 values as talking point and their short term, whatever it takes modus operandi to get his personal agenda fulfilled. We are mere taxpaying dopes. And he's Father knows best. He may feel righteous in thinking he is doing this for the poor kids, but he never did ask us if this is what we wanted or needed.

Yeah, Charlie what you saw in selecting for the Superintendent search committee is pretty much what goes on in this town. I'm not surprised it was such a sham. It was a masquerade to show they have diversity and minority stakeholders engagement. You can never quite get rid of the yucky feeling afterward. Your worth was your ethnicity and skin color, not what ideas you bring. For some, that might be ok because sometimes you do have to sit pretty and play a token role as a price to fulfill your personal ambitions.

-voter

Anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks charters will be more accountable to parents has not done their homework. They are far less accountable to parents, and will be defended to the end of the earth by the wealthy supporters and administrative cronies who brought them here and have professional interests in making them look as successful as possible.

Wake up folks. Parents have practically no say in charters at all. And what do you do when the principal says "no" to you? Can't complain to anyone else. No school board. No Superintendent. Nobody. Good luck.

Be careful what you wish for. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

And on another note: Why do you think TFA is only a 2 year program? Answer: Burnout. 90 hours + per week? Maybe when you're right out of college, for a year or two. Longer than that? Nope.

Unsustainable, constant churn and turn (so not to burn). Think about it.

WSDWG

dw said...

Yeah, looks like I called this one (speculation) last week as well:

What I mean is that I could envision a sneaky senator attempting to say: As part of changing our schools funding formula we'll increase funding if we allow charters.

$780k is not a large amount in this context. I'm not following the gory details on this, is this inextricably tied into the overall budget, or can they kill 6202 and just toss the $780k back into the general fund separately from the rest if this or a similar budget passes?