Sunday, May 27, 2012

Decline To Sign - New Facebook Group

Join my new Facebook group - Decline to Sign - Charter-Free Washington.  

It's pretty simple - when (if) this charter initiative gets out to petitions, just Decline to Sign.  Getting it on the ballot is NOT an invitation to discussion (despite what the Times' says/thinks).  If they want a discussion, the time is NOW, not after it's on the ballot. 

Tell your friends, neighbors, family members, co-workers and fellow PTA members, Decline to Sign.

The way the timeline works out, the coalition that is pushing this may have between 2 weeks to 10 days to get signatures.

I spoke with the Secretary of State's office to make sure I understood the timeline for the pro-charter folks to get this on the ballot.

1) Their initiative is now being reviewed by the Code Reviser's office.  That could be up to a week (although the person I spoke to said the language was already well-written).  May 21-May 25

2) Then it goes back to the pro-charter people for any revisions.  I'm sure they will turn it around quickly like in a day or so.  May 29-30th

3)Then it goes to the AG's office for a title.  That could take up to a week.  May 31, June 1, 4, 5, 6

4) Then it goes to the court in Thurston County and anyone can challenge the title.  I suggest multiple challenges.  The court only takes motions on Fridays.  June 7, 8, 11, 12, 13

5) The judge could take a week to decide, June 14, 15, 18, 29, 20

 Naturally, this is just my extrapolation of the timeline.   

It looks like the pro-charter side could have roughly two weeks to get the signatures and one of those days is the 4th of July (a holiday).  The deadline is July 6th.

Understand that there will be many, many paid signature gatherers who will likely say anything to get signatures (Costco paid big bonuses for signatures and I suspect the Gates Foundation will do the same.)  When the time comes, be prepared to hang out and listen and challenge what they say to members of the public.

I spoke with a reporter at the Washington Wire and he said this timeframe is about what Costco had and they got it done.  Enough money and you can get anything done.

But the shorter the timeframe, the harder it becomes.

Support Decline to Sign.


Sahila said...

why have you made it a closed group?

why make it hard for people like me to publicise it and for people to join?

Anonymous said...

No way, Charters would be great because that would put an end to the disgusting cronyism that exists in the Seattle Public Schools. Down with cronyism..up with kids.

Cronyism is an obstacle to freedom.

Capitol Hill Lover

Anonymous said...

Sahila said: why have you made it a closed group?

why make it hard for people like me to publicise it and for people to join?

On the other side of the coin, for many people, putting something on Facebook might as well be like putting it behind a brick wall. I'm sure as heck not creating an account or even clicking that link.

If you're going to put something up on that site you might as well make it open so it's easy for others to publicize, but if there's information that only sits behind that barrier, well, that's not a good idea.

- no facebook for me

Anonymous said...

A.) Hate facebook. People who are against charters and that type of control should really thing twice about what they are supporting with the ultra-corporate Big Bro facebook.
B.) Not convinced about charters. Lots of arguments against them but Bottom Line, The System Does Not Work for Kids, and takes too much time to change the unions. I'm in the middle on charters and I may sign or may not, but I sure won't use facebook.


FB is sucking our kids' neurons...

Melissa Westbrook said...

First group I ever made so yes, Sahila, believe the worst. I'm thinking I can correct it.

FB, sorry but for better or worse, it's a good (and prime) way to get the word out and have it spread. Of course, it's not the only way and we will all think of others but the time to get started is now - before they start the petitions.

No one has to use Facebook who doesn't want to.

As for your worries:

"The System Does Not Work for Kids"

At least, be fair. It does work and work well for many kids and parents. But yes, it absolutely needs help for others and no one is saying it doesn't.

The unions ARE changing or haven't you noticed? The SEA worked - with the district - on a new contract that many consider ground-breaking.

dw said...

Here's my thought on how to battle a well-funded petition-gathering campaign, let's see what you think.

It sounds like time will be very short for gathering signatures, therefore time is their enemy. How can we use that knowledge to our advantage? Make every signature take longer than necessary. Instead of just declining to sign, make a serious attempt to engage the signature gatherer in an information-gathering session. Be pensive, ask good questions, but make sure they believe you are going to sign. In a busy location, if you can string them along for 5 minutes, that could be as many as 20-25 people they don't have a chance to ask!

This is a difficult strategy to fight because it's very hard to tell the difference between a fence-sitter that needs to be engaged and a time waster. But it depends on LOTS of people doing it at various locations over the course of the campaign.

Signature gathering has been around for a long time, so I doubt this is a new strategy, but it's new to me (just thought of it after reading this post). I suspect there's information somewhere on whether this tactic can be effective.

Charlie Mas said...

Capitol Hill Lover wrote: "Charters would be great because that would put an end to the disgusting cronyism that exists in the Seattle Public Schools."

Really? Where in the charter legislation is there any reason to believe that the charters will have less cronyism than the public schools?

When I read the legislation I see greater opportunity for cronyism, not less. There will be greater freedom by principals to hire and fire whomever they like. What are you talking about, Capitol Hill Lover?

Charlie Mas said...

FB is sucking our kids' neurons... wrote: "The System Does Not Work for Kids, and takes too much time to change the unions."

Do you believe that "the unions" designed the system? Wasn't the system designed and isn't it maintained by the state- and district-level bureaucrats?

I think you have touched on the strongest argument in favor of charter schools - the system does not work for a lot of kids. But the unions have almost nothing to do with the design or maintenance of that system. The unions are made up of the workers, not the managers, not the executives. It is the managers and the executives who built the system, not the workers.

If you want this charter legislation to succeed, you're going to have to change the enemy from the unions to the bureaucrats.

Jet City mom said...


acmyscp said...

I agree that Decline to Sign is the right idea. The notion that putting an issue on the ballot encourages discussion is clearly ridiculous. I think we all know that elections are about power and money, not about exchanging ideas.

Sahila said...

I didnt think the worst Melissa... I wondered why you had chosen the closed group option...

Charlie Mas said...

Gee, an attorney general who is friendly to charter schools might take much less than week to write a title for it. That could give them some more time to gather signatures. I wouldn't be surprised if Rob McKenna turned this around really fast.

Then again, a friendly judge in Thurston County could either decide really quickly, or the judge could take a really long time to decide it. Again, I wouldn't be surprised to see this thing on the street as much as ten days earlier than this projection.

Melissa Westbrook said...

DW, that's exactly what I thought of. Think of the big events/places where signature gathers will fan out to maximize the numbers.

Charlie, I did kind of go into that with the Sec'y of State's office.

They said the language was well-written; that shortens the time.

They said when it goes back to the backers for any corrections, that would probably be a fast turnaround.

Yes, the AG's office will likely fast-track it.

But he said that the judge could have a lot on his/her plate and even given that time is of the essence, the judge is unlikely to move anything to get it done. (And whose fault is it this thing is late? Certainly not the judge's.)

And the week for name challenges is solid so I don't see that changing.

I asked - delicately - about any one powerful person asking for a "push" and he snorted and said they would not look kindly on any one trying to use that kind of power as leverage with their office.

I have to take him at his word.

So sure it could be 10 days to 3 weeks.

SeattleSped said...

Two thumbs up

Anonymous said...

A few suggestions for the FB page:

See if you can change it as Sahila suggests so we can "invite" friends to join. I have a number of friends in Seattle who I know do not read this blog. Right now, it does not even show up in my Timeline other than a new group, so my friends aren't seeing anything about it.

Also...post some links to this blog on the page so that when people who are unfamiliar "join" they can get the full story on Charters. I think I'll post a link on my web page for the "Decline to Sign" article...but being able to invite only the friends who live in WA state would have more clout.

And for all the FB haters out there...it is what you make of it. I have reconnected with many old friends scattered all over the country. For me, it's been a very positive experience.

Solvay Girl

Anonymous said...

I decline to sign up for Facebook.

-not feeding the monster

Sahila said...

Anne Martens, Communications Director for Stand For Children, has been busy pushing the initiative on FB this morning, on other peoples' walls.... she runs away when anyone challenges her on Stand or charter school history/effectiveness

mirmac1 said...

Hey, I'm not a big FBer (frankly, most of what's on there is my husband's and his HS partier clan (kind of embarrassing). Still, I'm sure some of them get approached by initiative-wielders and actually do vote so...

Sahila said...

It would pay you to watch what is going on around the country:

(and dont think it cant happen here - everyone here said "oh we wont get TFA")...

Manager proposes that entire school district become charterised

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, MI -- In a groundbreaking move, the emergency manager for Muskegon Heights Public Schools is proposing to turn the entire school system into a charter school.

Donald Weatherspoon said today he will submit a plan to state officials calling for the creation of a new K-12 charter system. The district's debt, estimated at $12.4 million, will remain with the current public school district, giving the charter operator a fresh start, he said.

"I have the utmost confidence it is the best alternative," Weatherspoon said today.

The charter school system is the backbone of an operating plan that Weatherspoon will submit to the state treasurer and superintendent of instruction for approval.

No other K-12 charter school system operates in the state. Weatherspoon said Muskegon Heights Public Schools under his direction would be the authorizer of the charter, rather than the current system involving colleges and universities, and that he would appoint the charter school board.

He said he and perhaps one other person would be the sole employees of Muskegon Heights Public Schools. Current staff can apply to work for the new charter system, he said.

Taxpayers in the Muskegon Heights school district would be responsible for paying back the debt, though Weatherspoon said taxes will not be increased. He said creditors will be paid back as soon as possible and is working with the state to secure a loan.

Homestead taxes, which would not be increased, also are being looked at as a source of revenue to pay off the debt, which will be extended over a long period of time, he said.

He said he wants to assure parents the school system that will open its doors in the fall will be high quality, saying that "two layers" of oversight -- himself and the charter board -- will keep an eye on both student performance and school performance.

A parent forum is planned for late Wednesday afternoon.

Sahila said...

Charter Schools & Wall Street Investment in School Reform

Anonymous said...

Did they note the background of this emergency manager? Curious to know where he/she comes from. And one of only two employees...how convenient.

Solvay Girl

Sahila said...

@ Solvay Girl....

here's a news piece about the guy:

Weatherspoon named efm for muskegon hts

Anonymous said...

Informal ST poll in Monday's edition (online at least) on charter schools, Y or N



Anonymous said...

Thanks, vcharters..just voted. Thank you for this info.

-TS, "Mean"

Anonymous said...

Why on earth do you think the public school system can be saved?? It is a bureaucratic mess and can't be fixed..so try something new. How many times did they try and fly an airplane before it was successful?? Exactly.

So, by not trying something new, nothing goes forward in a positive direction.

I love people who shoot down ideas that attempt to fix a broken system and have NOTHING better to offer. Easy to criticize with hypothetical problems..harder and less brave to actually solve problems.

-Philosopher Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Actually, it could be fixed but the people in a position to do something, aren't. So to say it can't is to let people, elected people, off the hook.

We are trying new things but the louder voices get heard.

We have a notice up for not one but TWO public meetings this week with education experts offering different and better solutions.

dw said...

Melissa, I think an earlier comment hit blogger's filter.

Dorothy Neville said...

Would charter operators be audited by the SAO like districts? All three audits (financial, Federal and accountability)? And would charters be required to adhere to open meetings act and public records act?