Charter Petitions May Start Appearing Near You

The judge in Superior Court heard the challenge to Initiative 1240 yesterday and rejected most of WEA's reasoning (with a few tweaks).   

Stand for Children issued a statement saying all the changes from the WEA had been rejected but apparently they don't bother to keep up with what actually happens in court.  They say they will use a combination of volunteer and paid signature gatherers (but there is no legal way to find out how many of each but I suspect an ARMY of paid).  They need about 250,000 signatures to be on the ballot but it would be good to get at least 300,000 for safety's sake.

The title now says "Initiative Measure No. 1240 concerns creation of a public charter school system."

I totally agree with this as voters need to know this is a system and not just a few schools.

The concise description is still over by 3 words but the WEA missed that.

Bill Gates has given $200k to the cause and Nick Hanauer has kicked in money as well. 

It is likely you will see these petitions at your local farmers markets or in the ferry lines or big public events.  Please, whether you like charters or not, Decline to Sign.  Here are my top ten reasons:
One - Conversion Charters.  This is the use of the so-called "trigger" that would allow a charter with an approved proposal to solicit signatures from either parents OR teachers at ANY school.  If they receive a majority of signatures from either group, they take over the school, including the building.  The district retains ownership of the building and major maintenance responsibilities but has no other control.

Keep in mind - the trigger was for parents to allow takeover by a charter for a FAILING school.  As written, a charter could take over ANY school - TOPS, Roosevelt, Eckstein, Denny, Laurelhurst, etc.  It is a dangerous, dangerous clause.   There is NO other trigger law, in place or proposed, that allows takeover of ANY school. 

Two -Levy dollars.  Any education levy elections after a charter is created would have to give a share of those dollars to charters (for either operations or capital levies).  Districts do not normally divvy levy dollars equally among schools but that’s what they would have to do with charters.

And, if a charter is in a private building, capital levy dollars would go to that building.  Taxpayers would be paying to maintain private facilities. 

Three  - Parent involvement.   Sign a petition to takeover an existing school?  That’s the end of your say as a parent.  The word “parent” is mentioned 16 times in this initiative and only one time is it about involvement.   A charter must only state in its application “opportunities and expectations” for parents.

Four –“Better” schools for high-need students.  The wording in the initiative says “authorizers shall give preference” to charter proposals for schools for high-needs students but don’t say how.  It then goes on to say that nothing prevents any other kind of school to be created. 

Five – Authorizers.  There would be two kinds of authorizers - a new state charter commission and existing school boards.  That Commission is not bound by the same procedures as school boards and the initiative does not state what procedures they should use to authorize charter schools.

Six – Accountability.  If anything goes wrong at a charter, no elected official or government employee can be held responsible.

Seven– Religion.  There is a section of the initiative that bans any sectarian issues in a charter.  However, that section leaves open the possibility –as has happened in other states – of ethnically-themed charters that include “learning” about religion.  Indeed, the largest charter group in the country is themed around the country of Turkey.

Eight – Profit.  A charter must be started by a non-profit but they can then outsource management and nearly everything else to a for-profit entity.  A charter board only has to retain its “oversight authority.”

Nine– Commission members.  There are no mechanisms for oversight of Commission members and no way to remove them.

Ten – Rent/Sale of Buildings.  Charters have the right of first refusal, at or below market value, for any school building up for sale or lease.  They also can seek room at libraries, community service organizations, colleges/universities or any public or private entity at or below market value.


Anonymous said…
This is a GREAT list of anti-charter bill reasons!

I'd be happy to put this into a PDF format (2-up or 4-up) that people could carry around with them to hand out to people who are being approached by signature gatherers. Just say the word and I'll get one to you to post. People could print out, cut a few out and carry them with them.

Solvay Girl
There has been a flyer created but having multiple ones is not a bad idea. I'm coordinating with a couple of people and we'll be putting up ways to help in your neighborhood.

Eric B said…
Two comments:

In item one, I think it's worse than what you state. Not only do the school districts continue to be responsible for major maintenance and capital projects, the conversion charter school gets all revenue associated with its students (state, federal, and levy). One or two conversions could break a small district's finances.

I disagree with your item (8). Section 203(1)(c), last sentence says "Contracts for management operation of the charter school may only be with nonprofit organizations." Other operations functions may be contracted with a for-profit company, but school districts do that as well (First Student for transportation, etc.)

Signature gatherers were out at Fremont Fair today. I resisted the urge to sign as Mr. Hooper to fill up space or to make off with the entire stack of signature pages.
Anonymous said…
Ran into some signature gatherers along 45th in Wallingford. All young African American males in their Yes on 1240 T-shirts. I politely refused the first one who asked, but when the second one asked, I had an audience outside Molly Moon's, so I loudly said that the state couldn't pay for the schools it had, why would I want something that would siphon even more money off the public school system? I noted that no one else in that vicinity signed either - at least not while I was there.

Josh Hayes said…
Yeah, there were FIVE signature gatherers stationed outside the upper and lower doorways to the Target near Northgate - one asked me if I was a voter, and I said yes, and he asked if I'd like to sign a charter school initiative, and I said, "Not if you paid me! By the way, what are they paying YOU to gather signatures?"

He was flustered and said, "None of your damn business!" I don't think it impressed the shoppers, but I did notice later that they were doing a pretty brisk business signing people up, dammit. Those flyers about why we SHOULDN'T sign would have been useful there, especially if they boil down to three or so bullet points.
Just saying said…
I don't think there are any laws that would prevent citizens from standing next signature collectors with a "Decline to Sign" poster.
Anonymous said…
interesting anecdotes - I'm certain that the gate$ crew could get plenty of signatures around the malls out in the burbs where the 'moderates' and the 'conservatives' cluster - the people who always fall the eyeman-esque lies and vote against their own self interest.

I was going to make a snotty comment about the political incompetence of the education powers located here in Seattle - shouldn't any group of signature gathers in Seattle be swarmed with people disseminating the truth against these KIPP bandits?

but, from looking at my first set of comments, I realized that so many of these mistaken 'moderates' and 'conservatives' exist BECAUSE the smug elitist establishment Democrats of nicer 'hoods Seattle are only good at keeping their jobs, the dupe$ and the lackey$ of gate$ might as well

Kathy said…
Clearly, the initiative will provide levy funds for charter schools. The unanswered question much?
Anonymous said…
Signature gatherer,7pm Sunday in front of Ross Store on Aurora Ave. I said absolutely not and his statement was that alot of teachers were for them. He seemed conflicted as we talked alittle. I'm not sure anyone is seeing a bigger picture. I think we should give the flexibility to the system of public schools that we have. We have some great schools that are being regulated to death. Offer extra help to students in need and cut back on the excessive testing and data collection $$$$.

Public School Parent
PSP, yes, you're right. This isn't the way that will happen.

As for levy money, well, it depends on the number of charters that come in but you can bet the overwhelming majority will be in the Puget Sound region.

Think that capital levies are hard for regions outside of Seattle to pass? Tell people their tax money will go to maintain private buildings.
Anonymous said…
The collectors outside Target today were raggedy types. Looked like working for sub-minimum wage. Vaguely threatening. Not paid to talk, either. Didn't know a thing except 'sign on the line.'

Nice people the charter kids are hiring!

No On Charters

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