Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Note to KUOW about the Charter Initiative

Just listened to Shannon Champion from Stand for Children talking about the charter school initiative on The Conversation.  A couple of things:

- go back and listen to the tape.  She didn't answer virtually any of the actual questions that Ross asked.  You might want to keep that in mind going forward on this issue.  You won't get a straight, precise answer to questions like his question "can anyone open a charter school?" and the answer is "yes, anyone who follows the application process and has the background to open one."  She dodged that one.

- I have gone thru the initiative (versus the charter bill legislation which is its template) - some interesting changes/additions/deletions but plenty for folks to have concerns with including the very controversial parent/teacher "trigger".

- There will be organized opposition to this measure should it qualify for the ballot and it will NOT just be the union (or union supporters).  There are enough of us - statewide - that have no association with the WEA and are going to fight this on the merits of what it means to parents, students, school districts and taxpayers. 

I note that Ross tried to get her to talk about costs and she dodged that question as well.  This initiative will open a new commission of 9 people (that will sit in the Governor's office and costs for them paid out of the Governor's budget- a nice surprise for Inslee or McKenna).  Then there are the costs for processing the applications (which can be sub-contracted out by the Commission - that was estimated with the charter school bill legislation at around $1M a year). 


Charlie Mas said...

The charters can be sponsored by either school districts or by the commission.

I don't see Seattle Public Schools ever sponsoring a charter, especially since they would then have to save funding with it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, I believe it's the Board who decides. That certainly could change Board elections, no?

Anonymous said...

Actually a careful reading of the initiative states that the authorizer, whether a Board of Directors in a school district, or the new Washington Charter School Commission, would be entitled to funding equal up to 4% of the charter's school's annual operating budget. This would be a separate pool, not able to be commingled with other funds, and to be used exclusively to held the authorizer administer and oversee the new public charter school. The applicant for a charter school may apply to either the Commission or the Board of Directors of a school district, but if it elects the Board of Directors of a school district, it must go to the Board that has jurisdiction over the school that is located within its boundaries. I do not see why a School Board election would necessarily hinge on this one issue since an operator is never bound to go ask for approval to the School Board due to the new Charter School Commission which is a more statewide entity. --Analytical One