Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Charter Initiative; LEV, Why So Quiet?

If you were a prominent education advocacy group and you joined a coalition of groups for a major initiative to be put on the ballot in November, don't you think you might actually have some information on your website?  I mean given your address is the address of record and your chief of staff is the public info contact for the initiative. 

Not LEV.  Odd.

So the News Tribune has a good story with both press releases from the coalition group and the WEA.  I had to smile at Rep. Pettigrew's statement:

“This initiative will finally bring Washington into the 21st century in terms of educational opportunities for public school students,”

Charter schools are the most cutting edge thing you can do in education today?  If that's true, we're in real trouble.

What I didn't realize (and this is useful) is how tight the timing is to get the signatures (so that means spending a heck of a lot of money just to get on the ballot):

Supporters acknowledge they won’t be able to start gathering signatures for about a month, giving them just a couple weeks to canvass. That’s not much time, unless supporters are willing to spend money at Costco-like levels.

Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/politics/2012/05/22/charter-school-advocates-make-last-minute-attempt-to-reach-2012-ballot/#storylink=cpy

Fleshed out at the Secretary of State's office, it sounds like this:

It takes several weeks to process an initiative and for the Attorney General’s Office to prepare a ballot title. Challengers then would have one week to ask Thurston County Superior Court for changes in the ballot title.  After that, sponsors would be able to print petitions sheets and circulate them. 

So they probably won't be able to start the petition going until maybe, late June and the deadline is July 6th.  I can say with certainty that there will be that one week lost where a challenger will step up for changes in the ballot title.


Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/politics/2012/05/22/charter-school-advocates-make-last-minute-attempt-to-reach-2012-ballot/#storylink=cpy


Watching said...

The silence is disconcerting.

Think back to the legislative period. I'm suspect they have some type of a trick they will pull out of their sleeve.

Anonymous said...

Alright, let's get down to it and it ain't pretty. Take the entire paid staff of League of Education Voters and Stand for Children and the other charter one..Dems for Something...

The whole shebang is a bunch of white middleclass women with An Agenda for the Poor Black and Brown Kids. OK, there's apparently some Roundtable affirmative action person on LEV's staff but that's not exactly From Our Community.

In fact, The Community smacked League of Education Voters down last year for using Eric Pettigrew as a poster boy for "fixing" RBHS when The Community has done the heavy lifting for itself, thank you very much.

This Charter Initiative has racial implications that these so-called reformers have no credibility addressing. They talk at us not with us. We don't need em. Most of us don't want em.

We don't need our community divided further. We don't need our schools segregated more. That's what this push will do. Shame on them.


Anonymous said...

The story in the TNT was better than the Times for details. Thank you for posting.

Interesting use of language I just noticed. The Times charter article headline is "Advocacy groups file initiative to put charter schools on November ballot".

Ed Voter

This is entrenched Times/civic elite bias. The big $$ groups (and with apparently $5 mil to get names onto a ballot, these people qualify) get the kindly advocacy name while dissenters get the oh-so-horrifying-to-business activist title.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Anonymous - give yourself a name -

And Point #2: If the $5 million number is correct ($4 mil from Gates $1 mil from Nick Hanauer), how does this compare to the usual annual budget of League of Ed Voters, or WA Stand, or DFER.

I would like this blog, or the Times or TNT or whoever. Stranger? to supply a comparison. Because my gut says this funding is hugely out of line with their general operating funds. I tend to reject out of hand initiatives being pushed by a handful of special contributors. So, to me, if this is the case here, it is a reason to reject the initiative. If that's not the case, then I stand corrected.

I also tend to agree with Southie in that good intentions in one area can result in bad outcomes in other areas. I think charters would do more harm than good to Washington, in part because of how they seem to pit community members against each other in the major cities where they do exist.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I think my computer is having issues. I had 2 posts. The one Melissa posted and the one above it, which I signed, but somehow the signature is in the middle of the post.

Ed Voter

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Watching said...

I hear Mary Lou Dickerson will be working on the initiative process during her retirement. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if we can do anything about this one.

Noam said...

Years ago we had a city council person (Tom Weeks) who was quoted saying about labor: "promise them anything but after the election, forget them".

Unfortunately this is the way of the political world and we have a couple on the school board who exemplify the same credo.

Dickerso once billed herself as a "Labor" elected official but went south quickly. After voting for Zarelli/Hobbs public employee pension "gutting" this year, I would believe anything about her retirement activities right about now.

Did she ever have a moral compas?

Anonymous said...

Southie, I am a white middleclass woman in the north end. I can't claim to know where you're coming from, but I can say I agree with everything you say - especially charter schools equal racial segregation and I know of plenty of people in the northwest end of town who would love to join forces with you to fight this. How do we do this?

Tired of Having to Fight This Fight Again

Eric B said...

What surprises me about this initiative is how poorly organized LEV, SFC, and the rest are. They should have seen the handwriting on the wall during the legislative session and had an initiative ready to file the instant the special session closed with no charter legislation. That way, they would have had 4-6 weeks to gather signatures instead of 2. With the millions behind the initiative, there would have been no trouble doing that, and they could have focused on the election. Now, they're risking not being able to gather enough signatures in time.

Anonymous said...

The failure to gather signatures for the initiative will just allow the "alphabet soup league" to play victim to the "evil union thugs and their unwitting supporters" in order to have a "remember the Alamo" battle cry come next legislative session.

Succeed or not, it will align with progress for charter supporters.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Eric on that issue I suspect there was some in-fighting about whether to just try the Legislature again or go for broke on a vote.

I think they may have had a back-and-forth and made this decision late. They can't blame anyone but themselves for the short timeframe.

If they lose this on at the ballot box, I doubt they will try it in the Legislature again. One, because it will have the big red "L" of loser all over it (4 times!) and two, they know if they do pass it, it will only go to the (now-furious) voters again.

It's a bold gamble on their part, I can say that.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I just checked. DFER Washington has nothing and, in fact, the last time anything was posted was in April.

Stand has it on their blog but not their homepage.

It's funny because there is not one staff person's name on their website but I see one for this effort. Why do these groups never have any human beings attached to their web pages?

Someone said...

I had posted a link to the EdWeek blog re this quote from LEV's Korsmo on another thread - probably worth repeating here:

"But backers of the plan believe public sentiment has shifted to their side, said Chris Korsmo, the chief executive officer of the League of Education Voters. Supporters of the measure plan to enlist volunteer and paid signature-gatherers, and they expects other advocacy groups and education activits to lend their support in the weeks and months to come, she said.

"Once the voters have an opportunity to see what these schools can provide, they'll support it," Korsmo predicted."

Full story here: Charter backers chasing signatures in Washington State

Watching said...

"It takes several weeks to process an initiative and for the Attorney General’s Office to prepare a ballot title. Challengers then would have one week to ask Thurston County Superior Court for changes in the ballot title."

My attention keeps turning to this paragraph. Does anyone know about "ballot titles"?

Will there be attempts to pass this initiative using wording such as "Equitable Education". Must the word "charter" be used? What wording will be asked by those collecting signatures?

Eric B said...

I believe ballot titles are assigned at the AG's office, so there's certainly a friendly face there to make the ballot title as favorable as possible to the initiative. I would think (but not sure) that it would have to have charters in the title. IIRC, there was a little bit of trouble about the ballot title for the gay marriage referendum, where the assigned ballot title was skewed towards the anti-gay-marriage talking points (redefining marriage, etc.).

Melissa Westbrook said...

What you get to do is challenge the title after it is assigned by the AG. There is a week to challenge in the Thurston County court. I'd would assume that will happen.

Melissa Westbrook said...

So far in the (unscientific) Times poll, it's 183 (56.31%) to no versus 142 votes (43.69% for yes.

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking through the timing of this initiative. The end of May is such a late time to file, it must mean they were doing some heavy wrangling to get the money they need to buy the signatures (volunteers will get maybe 10%, no more). Which makes me think that the Gates Foundation perhaps was not instantly on board with the big money behind a controversial initiative.

The would definitely want to be on the 2012 ballot, rather than an off-year election, so if they don't go now, they have to wait til 2016.

Here is why I think 2012 is best for them:

Presidential elections have a higher turnout because of lots more young and uninformed voters. Those voters tend to be less skeptical and easily swayed by simple campaign messages. That is good for charter schools.

This election also will likely have gay marriage on the ballot. That will bring out more conservative voters, who tend to support charters.

They have to have a lot of money lined up. And clearly their polling tells them their chance is now. It will be interesting to see if they are right.

-North end mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good analysis, North End mom.

Their other option was to have an initiative to go to the legislature. That would have given them until November to get the signatures and take it ot the Legislature. But they chose voters.

Education is key to defeating this initiative. The other side can say "help poor kids have better schools" and that's pretty powerful. But there are things on the no charters side as well.

And, while there are more voters, it is a very crowded ballot AND they need to get the attention to even get it on the radar.