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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Support for NO on 1240 Rising

Stats from the latest KCTS-9 Washington Poll (via The Stranger Slog):


Initiative 1240 – Charter Schools
Yes 47.5%
No 39.2%
Undecided 13.3%

That is a slight drop for Yes, a slight rise for No and a LOT of undecideds (which is pretty much what I see out there on the campaign trail).  There's a lot of pondering to be done between now and Election Day but I think Elway polling may be right - initiative support tends to drop as you get closer to it.

Other initiatives:

Referendum 74 – Marriage Equality
Yes 56.3%
No 35.6%
Undecided 6.1%

Initiative 502 – Legalizing and Regulating Marijuana
Yes 50.9%
No 40.8%
Undecided 8.3%

Initiative 1185 – 2/3 Majority to Raise Taxes
Yes 53.6%
No 31.2%
Undecided 15.2%

60 comments:

mirmac1 said...

That idiotic I-1185 should require a 2/3 majority to pass!

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why folks like SFC's Campion aren't willing to allow innovative schools, creative schools, alts, etc. a couple of years before pushing charters. We just got new legislation from Olympia last year and the year before, with huge changes to teacher certification and standardized testing. Shouldn't we give those things a year or two before we thrust more and more radical changes on an already overburdened, underfunded system. This is not good policy, or good science. One would think the reformers were smart enough to figure that out. But nooooooooo! WSDWG

mirmac1 said...

WSDWG, But there's not money to be made in that!

Anonymous said...

You can open a charter today with your own money. They want the publics $$$$$$. Losses will be the taxpayers.

http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/02/usa-education-investment-idINL2E8J15FR20120802

Public School Parent

Anonymous said...

What about BEX? I'm really curious about where that stands. I want to vote yes, but am so frustrated with this district and this board that I'm considering voting against it. I've never voted against money for schools, though, and feel conflicted. Where do others stand on this?

-undecided

Anonymous said...

Here is the link to the actual story on the latest Kng 5 poll. It reports that all 4 initiatives are actually ahead, including I-1240. It would appear to be inconsistent with The Stranger Slog.

From the story:

"The other two ballot measures -- one legalizing up to 40 charter schools in the state and the other restating voters' support for a required two-thirds majority vote in the legislature on raising taxes -- both lead comfortably with 54 percent support, the poll found.

Just 39 percent of voters said they oppose the charter school initiative (I-1240), with 17 percent undecided. And only 22 percent opposed the tax measure (I-1185), with 23 percent undecided. "

If I-1240 is to be defeated, there must be a massive break of the 17% undecideds in its favor. That could happen of course.

- Always Fact Check The Stranger

Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot to post the link:

http://www.king5.com/news/up-front/polls/KING-5-poll-Initiatives-still-ahead-AG-race-now-a-toss-up-174837961.html

- Always Fact Check The Stranger

Anonymous said...

I fully expect 1240 to pass. They have millions of dollars to spend on advertising starting now. The opposition has gum wrappers and spit.

I don't want it to pass, mind you. I truly hate the thought that a few millionaires will buy themselves some bad educational policy affecting the full state. Did anyone hear the KUOW piece on the 1240 contributors? Someone should link to it from this blog, perhaps.

"active voter"

Melissa Westbrook said...

It was not The Stranger's poll - I said that. It was KCTS.

And what about the math in the quotes you stated?

54% for, 39% against and how do you get 17% undecided?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

People like 1240 and will vote for it. Just think if you are part of a strong, sizable group advocating for your kids' need and have been watching your program/school thrown in disarray year after year, wouldn't you see 1240 with all the glaring loopholes an opportunity waiting to be exploited. There's a lot of anger and frustration out there. People may not say it publicly because it's not kosher to promote self interest before the greater good, but they'll vote that self interest in the privacy of their own homes.

scared because that's what I'm hearing

seattle citizen said...

Anonymous 5:14, who will be deleted because admins ask that you either choose a user name or just sign it with some sort of name, wrote:

"We can always take it to court on constitutionality grounds should it pass."

Yes we can, indeed. Randy Dorn, WA state supt, was on KUOW today and said it's unconstitutional - WA delegates ALL public schools to be under the superintendent, and 1240 puts charters under the governor. No can do, sugarboo.

Maureen said...

really, sugarboo?! :-)

KING 5 does say 17% undecided, but from context I think it must be a typo? (Should be 7%)

Maureen said...

The age breakdown on the KCTS poll is interesting. Looks like lots of young adults are still undecided:

Age: 18-29
Yes: 51.9%
No: 25.5%
Undecided: 22.6%

Time to talk to our young friends/neighbors/coworkers and make sure our older kids are Facebooking and Tumbling and whatever else those crazy kids do.

Unknown said...

Oh yes, there will be LOTS of court cases. Conversion charters, selling public property for less than its worth, violating the one-topic rule for initiatives, common schools - there is rather a lot to argue about.

The initiative is full of vagueness, all of which can be worked out...in court.

It's the kind of thing that drives away the "high-performing" charters that just don't have the time to worry about if they will get shut down by a court case.

The people who wrote I-1240 should have thought of writing a more air-tight piece of legislation.

Jan said...

Melissa -- the people who wrote I-1240 could NOT have written a more air-tight piece of legislation, because the underlying raison d'etre for the bill is the transfer of public funds and assets to private control -- under the "guise" of providing public education choice. It's like trying to fit Cinderella's glass slipper on her ugly stepsister's foot. It just won't go.

It IS possible, theoretically, for a civic-minded group of people to sit down with the state constitution, the charter laws (and results) in other states, and the best interests of kids, families, and taxpayers in mind -- (I didn't add teachers separately, because in my view, you cannot serve the best interests of kids, families, and taxpayers without taking reasonable care of teachers as well) and craft some kind of bill (maybe along the creative/innovation schools concepts) and come up with something that:
a) is still really "public" (and not a private school funded with public money -- which is no more "public" than a private physician's office funded with medicare, medicaid, and public employees insurance money;
b) creates significant autonomy with respect to a whole host of issues (testing, pedagogy, days in class, definitions of credit hours, hiring, etc.)
c) gives some power back to Districts to manage a whole host of things -- how they want to allocate capital dollars in levies, how to deal with schools that fail to retain kids (due to expulsion policies, etc.)or fail to accomodate SPED kids (meaning -- you not only have to accept them; you also have to educate them), etc., how to close them if needed.

There would NOT be a "state charter commission" -- siphoning off dollars and essentially shifting education from being a locally controlled matter to being a state enterprise, so there would not be those dollar losses. Probably the process would be more like the MOU process that we already have (and that the District already has proven it can handle).

Such a bill clearly would not allow a conversion charter to take a "secret" parent or teacher vote, and then essentially just "squat" in a publicly owned school, regardless of how many kids they choose to serve and the effects of converting a neighborhood assignment school into a "lottery choice" school -- because no one (except the folks that wrote THIS bill) could have been so stupid and blind as to propose that.

And of course, it would not "allocate" to privately run schools some "pro rata" share of capital levy dollars (without regard to any reasoned allocation of scarce assets to maintain schools) -- because, really? Would Starbucks ever decide to just "allocate" their capital dollars pro rata to all of their existing stores, without taking into account which ones are brand new (i.e. -- they got all the dollars LAST round), which ones should close (bad locations) or whether totally NEW stores need to be built? Is that how any owner of multiple buildings deploys funds for capital construction and repair? Of course not. It boggles my mind that this legislation purports to be written by right-wing, business types -- because NO business does this. It is beyond absurd.

Anonymous said...


As an attorney with 15+ years of experience and a parent of a child in SPS, I am very interested in watching what unfolds. I think it is very likely (sorry Ms. Westbrook) I-240 will not only pass, but also will be found to be constitutional. Our state Supreme Court, if a case wends its way that far, wil be reluctant to find our charter law unconstitutional knowing that 41 states have such laws on their books. There is nothing so unique in our state Constitution to suspect a different result here. Furthermore, assuming the initiative passes, there will be a huge deterrent in the bar among those most competent to advocate for this case, knowing that there is potentially unlimited funds on the other side. It is sad, but true: the cost of litigation does matter. Perhaps out of state attorneys will be attracted to the cause; but then it only weakens the case that I-240 is being "bought" with out of state of money if out of state help is needed to fight it. No, the most likely thing to happen is the initiative passes, the Charter Commission gets rolling, and some schools and groups quickly raise their hands to line up. Given that there are wait lists for popular charter schools in other states, it is possible the same thing will happen here. Or not. We have the disastrous results like in places like Arizona. But I suspect not. Washington will probably fall out on the "better" side of charters, over time. Those 1st 40 schools are going to become interesting to watch, and it will also be interesting to see the quality of teachers that apply and get hired.

- A Realistic Attorney

Unknown said...

Our state Supreme Court, if a case wends its way that far, wil be reluctant to find our charter law unconstitutional knowing that 41 states have such laws on their books.

You're a lawyer and you think because there is a law in 41 other states, it surely must be valid in ours? I almost don't know what to say to that.

Don't take my word for it. I would advise you to read Professor Spitzer's analysis of why there are not one but two constitutional issues with 1240 (and he's a lawyer).

And that's a lovely thought - Bill Gates has deep pockets and so no lawyer in the state will dare take this on?

Realistic, I'm not buying what you are selling.

Decided said...

Undecided says "I've never voted against money for schools"

There has been serious problems with this District for the past decade, and yet you voted yes on the previous levies. YOU MUST RENT.

suep. said...

Some info on the wealthy few who are bankrolling I-1240:

THE CHARTER-PUSHERS: WHO IS BANKROLLING THE $8 MILLION EFFORT (and counting) TO BRING CHARTERS TO WASHINGTON STATE?

And here's the recent KUOW report on this:

10 Donors Funded 91 Percent Of Charter Schools Campaign

mirmac1 said...

"Of all of the money raised for the charter school initiative, just one-half of 1 percent came from donations of less than $10,000." KUOW

Wow, that's puts the definition of the 1% on its head!

Anonymous said...

Arch Stanton: We need a simple graphic with the "10 Donors Funded 91 Percent of Charter Schools Campaign" Vote NO on I-1240

If there were a poster I could download it would be on my car within the hour. As it is, I may make my own!

A Year and a half to go.

Anonymous said...



"Realistic, I'm not buying what you are selling."

It would appear this forum has been selling this argument for several months. There are even posts in this thread that appear to assume the same idea: the sheer amount of financial resources that have brought us to this point. It is a vain hope to believe that those resources, which seem to matter so greatly in getting the initiative on the ballot, suddenly fizzle out if the initiative passes. To the contrary Ms. Westbrook, the likely consequence if the initiative passes is that those resources will be emboldened and matter even more. Having come so far, and with a democratic majority on its side now, those resources will likely do whatever they need to lock down their victory. Please do not misquote or mispresent me. I did not say *no* lawyer would them on, and I did not say *surely* this initiative would be 100% constitutional. I used qualifying language, which is what attorneys do, and the words matter, as the Supreme Court if they hear a case will parse them carefully. Professor Spitzer is a great legal mind and deserves our respect. I am a graduate of the law school so I know his reputation well. I very much look forward to reading his analysis and seeing what his advocacy might be. Please post a link if you can. Professor Spitzer may well be successful in finding chinks in the legal armor to the initiative that result in parts of it being stripped away. But a complete vindication, ie. a finding it is wholly unconstitutional and that the status quo prevails, is a remote likelihood. The fact is, charter laws are legal in 41 states. Washington is not so qualitatively different from the rest of the country in terms of our state Constitution that somehow we operate under a different legal or social compact. The real test will be whether a temporary injunction can be established to enjoin the Charter Commission, or whether it is able to get rolling fairly soon. Whatever resources Professor Spitzer an muster, I assure you there are equally strong legal minds the other side can muster, and perhaps even more. And as you have rightly said, with infinitely deeper legal pockets. This is why I said there would be a deterring effect to take on the initiative. I hope I am wrong. But hopes and reality are a gulf that is not always bridged.

- A Realistic Attorney

suep. said...
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suep. said...
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suep. said...
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suep. said...

I will say this about the bottomless pockets on the pro-charter side -- if it were an even playing field, the No side would win quite easily.

The true facts and data about charter school performance and repercussions are not compelling, and in some cases, are downright disturbing.

If the NO side had $9 million to educate Washington State voters on these facts, I believe the polls and votes would clearly come out against I-1240.

After 20 years to perfect their model, less than 20 percent of charter schools outperform existing, genuinely public, schools. Those are not good odds.

Also, I-1240 itself, as written, is very flawed.

And the "Yes" folks aren't that good at debating their position. Campion (of the national political lobbying enterprise Stand for Children, Inc.) keeps repeating the same tired talking points over and over and evading pointed questions.

(Even Robin Lake at the pro-charter, Gates-funded CRPE at UW has said she would not send her child with special needs to a KIPP, Inc. school.)

Maybe if you have a ton of money to buy ads and plaster neighborhoods with signs, you don't need to be able to debate well. (Maybe.)

If I-1240 passes, it will be a black mark on our state for it will be a demonstration of an elite and politically motivated few buying policy to force their pet agenda by hook or by crook. It will be further damning evidence of the corruption of the initiative process; the Eymanization of Washington State politics.

But no amount of money can buy genuine grassroots support, and I-1240 does not have that.

So we'll see what happens.



Anonymous said...

Realistic -
First, a caveat - I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV.

You said - "The fact is, charter laws are legal in 41 states." Have any of these other states' laws been challenged? I truly do not know the history. I suppose something may be presumed to be legal, but unless there is a challenge, a test of the legality does it not remain a bit up in the air?

More generally I must say that if it weren't so pathetic I would be amused by the "41 other states do it! 41 other states do it!" theme. Right up there with "but all my friends are going!", and "everybody else wears it!" That's the best the pro side can do, and it may just work. A pox on their house.

Oompah

Anonymous said...

Realistic Attorney: You're arguing populism, or realpolitik, not precedent. Our state constitution is very unique, particularly with regards to initiatives and referenda. Eyman found that out the hard way, several times. WSDWG

Unknown said...

Oompah, here's the facts. NO state, in my research, has ever voted, by the people, on the creation of charter schools except Washington State. We are unique in that way.

Have other states' charter laws been challenged? Yes, and funny you should ask because the numbers are growing. I'll have to write a thread on that one.

That a UW professor of constitutional law thinks there are two constitutional issues with 1240 should give anyone pause.

If my school got taken over because 10 teachers signed a petition, yes, I might fight it.

Anonymous said...

You're exactly right, Oompah. The "everybody else is doing it" - go-along-to-get-along mentality is what gives us Lance Armstrong and Alex Rodriguez. It also got us into an Iraq war and broke our treasury.

Methinks a court might sympathize with "enough-is-enough" sentiments these days and make an effort to curb the purchsasing of power and influence via initiatives and elections. Someone should be able to figure out that aristrocracies and plutocracies are regressive recipes doomed to fail, as they always have. One can hope. WSDWG

mirmac1 said...

Moses Lake School Board opposed to charter schools initiative - Columbia Herald

mirmac1 said...

Columbia Herald article

Anonymous said...


"More generally I must say that if it weren't so pathetic I would be amused by the "41 other states do it! 41 other states do it!" theme. Right up there with "but all my friends are going!", and "everybody else wears it!" That's the best the pro side can do, and it may just work. A pox on their house."

Yes Oompah, it is a weak argument in many ways. What is popular is not always what is just. And yet, the argument has been persuasive for over a generation. Minnesota started the charter movement in 1991. Vast majorities of the voting public since then have elected state officials that have written laws to enact charter schools, with a great deal of variation across the states. Maine is the latest state to adopt a charter law. Washington state is the largest state by population that has *not* approved some version of charters. The courts have weighed in for over a generation, with judges from across the ideological divide, and these laws are not being overturned. Our current President appears to support charter schools, and former President Clinton has also gone on record in support of them. The majority of the students in New Orleans are now in charter schools (the only city in the U.S. where this is true.) The main reason former President Clinton supports them is that he believes they strike a workable political compromise to avoiding more radical education approaches such as vouchers. When will the status quo forces understand that real politik is how to play this game, not purity at the pulpit with those already on one side?

Since Minnesota began this movement, the data shows there are now two over 2 million students in the U.S. enrolled in charter schools. Over 40% are believed to be free / reduced lunch eligible and over 50% are believed to be students of color. There is a wait list, in aggregate, in the six figures for the schools. We can criticize the motivations all we want, but the feet are moving. Why? There are many possible explanations, and the McCleary case in Washington is yet another example. Because the public schools are not properly funded. It is not fair, but it is life. Parents realize their kids get only so many chances so they do what they think is best for their kids, and it hard to fault them for impatience because their kids do not have the time to wait for perfect funding models, if they ever come. Parents know that a charter school can be a deal with the devil but also that they cannot be charged a tuition to attend. It's about money on this level. Always money. And where is the collective will for money from our own state? The voters of this state will not even approve an income tax on ourselves - to be paid by only high income earners - to help possibly fund public schools better. The voters of this state also refused to pay a small state sales tax on candy and gum. Without money, what should a parent do - be pure and possibly deny his child the potential out there, or be realistic and give him or her the best shot he thinks he can get now, today, during this limited window of time he is a school age student?

If public schools are under assault from charter schools, and if kids are in aggregate not advantaged from charter schools as the 2010 Credo study found, then public schools should be fighting to get those kids back. One last thing: this is not just a state or federal issue. Look beyond our borders and note other countries that have experimented with charter schools. Those include Canada, England, Wales, New Zealand, and Chile. Charter schools seem to be a hybrid model that will not go away.


I apologize for the long response, but there is a need for nuance to this discussion, not preaching. And for the record, I haven't decided yet how to vote on I-1240. I've never been so torn on a state ballot measure.

- Realistic Attorney

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ah but the countries with the highest student scores - Finland, China and South Korea? No charter schools.

Anonymous said...

Initiantive 1240 - It's Not What it Seems! Jan is right - the Initiative accurately reflects the intent of the authors, and that is to transfer public resources to private interests while claiming to "offer choice".

Look at Prop 32 in California for what we'll get next!

Strangle the union voice. Magnify the voice of the exceedingly wealthy. Channel public resources to private pockets.

We're seeing the future and it ain't pretty. It ain't pretty at all.

-Or maybe I'm just paranoid

Anonymous said...



"Ah but the countries with the highest student scores - Finland, China and South Korea? No charter schools."

South Korea also has one of the highest teen suicide rates in the world. Some attribute this to its uber-competitive school system. Boys are also given cultural advantages over girls in educational opportunities, and as the parent of a teenage girl, I would never want a South Korea style system here. There is much more to examine in the quality of school model than just its test scores.

Ms. Westbrook, you are very smart. I admire your guts. I suspect we agree on 95% of most issues. But the times have changed. Why is that the money raised to fight charters is over $1 million *less* than it was the last time voters turned down charters in 2004? Is it because we have a bad economy? Has the level of support for charter increased over the last 8 years? What is the reason the fundraising has been so poor?

You know the data. Charter schools as a percentage of all the 90,000+ public schools in the country represent a tiny tiny percentage of the total. The range by states is between 1% of the eligible students to a *high* of 24%. For being so destructive of public schools, charters seem to be disastrously ineffective by that measure. In the world of charters, it is not test scores that are paramount, because so few close and parents will defend even underperforming ones. It is not unions that matter; teachers that work at charter schools report levels of job satisfaction that are higher than those in public schools. It is not even money that matters, though that matters much more than the first two when it comes to parents. What matters most, first and foremost, and has always, is parents wanting to feel as if they have meaningful choices. They are voting with their feet that the status quo does not offer them that, in dozens of urban areas across the country, and even in suburban and rural areas to boot. Charters may be a mirage, but they are the mirage we all want to believe in, in an imperfect world. We in Washington will advance the conversation better by realizing that the time has come, they are coming. What can we do to make sure they avoid the abuses of other states, and work as effectively as possible here?

- Realistic Attorney

Anonymous said...

Realistic Attorney,

Well for one if you want to avoid the abuses in other states, don't pass 1240 with all the loopholes. It's an awful bill. IF you really believe charter can provide the answer then write a smarter bill with tighter rules about accountability, and make sure by having charter we will not create a system that will harm and hamstring traditonal public schools and the children in them. IF sponsors of 1240 are truly serious about education, they would spend their millions lobbying to fully fund education in this state as the Supreme Court has ruled.

Otherwise, it's more politics:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2012/10/19/playing-hardball-over-a-tennessee-charter-school/

voter

mirmac1 said...

Diane Ravitch addressed the Chicago City Club on Monday. She pointed out that NOLA charters rank at the bottom of Louisianna's schools, and that over 70% gets D'S and F's on the state report card. That's the NOLA miracle?!

mirmac1 said...

"Why is that the money raised to fight charters is over $1 million *less* than it was the last time voters turned down charters in 2004?"

That's an irrelevant measure. I'd say the biggest reason for fewer donors is just ^&$%#@ fatigue and burn out. Teachers are tired of being called union thugs and whiners, if they come out in force against charters. The teachers union is blindingly ineffectual. The 99% cannot buy unlimited TV ads and enjoy free Times op-eds and ads. Yada, yada.

Lots of red herrings. "All my friends are doing it!"

Anonymous said...

"What matters most, first and foremost, and has always, is parents wanting to feel as if they have meaningful choices."

Yes, in marketing the illusion of choice with respect to product differentiation is what counts. Sadly, it's not breakfast cereal or deoderant that is under consideration here.

"What can we do to make sure they avoid the abuses of other states, and work as effectively as possible here? "

Unfortunately, should I1240 be approved, you will not have the opportunity to address this question. The Initiative is what it is. Too late.

Are the proponents really interested in choice and quality and all those potentially laudable ideals? Don't think so, but they're sure marketing 1240 that way.

"We in Washington will advance the conversation better by realizing that the time has come, they are coming." Advance the conversation? Uh, we're looking at the implementation of new law here, not a chat over a beer.

Oompah

Anonymous said...




Lots of red herrings. "All my friends are doing it!"


No, they are not Mirmac. Charters are a very tiny minority in ever jurisdiction in which they are legal, except New Orleans (thanks for posting the update on Diane Ravitch's speech about the NOLA case).

If the argument is that charters destroy public schools, then they are moving at a glacial pace. Perhaps the measure is better expressed not in numbers, but in morale: do they permanently degrade the morale of the public schools that are not charter?

Oompah - I agree with you that marketing seems to be winning out right now. After that is done, i.e. on November 7 and the election results are finalized, the issue will shift from marketing to tactics / strategy. Melissa pointed out the Professor Spitzer has expressed constitutional doubts on the measure. I look forward to seeing that analysis. If I had to make an early assessment, I would surmise it will focus on procedural issues, not substance. In the law, a distinction is often drawn between substance and procedure. The more fruitful ground is likely to be attacking procedural shortcomings to the initiative, such as the accountability of the Charter Commission, the opaqueness of the parent / teacher trigger provisions, etc. The Courts may indeed find those need to go, or be re-written. In some ways, attacking procedure can be just as effective as attacking substance, and that may be the best tack to take here.

- Realistic Attorney

Melissa Westbrook said...

"A mirage we all want to believe" - that's how we vote for better education? That's how we use scarce education dollars? A hope and crossing our fingers?

And you may be right. And districts may have driven parents to this point and the districts and unions have to answer for that.

But I say to you that if anyone wants to lay the ills of public education ALL at the feet of teachers and administrators, then you are being unfair.

It is funding, it is a 23% poverty rate for children, it is a crappy economy - if education was easy, wouldn't Bill Gates - the sage of all things - have figured it out? Where are his education successes (I'll wait for those answers while you go try to find them)?

Education is HARD. It is a hard slog.

What's funny is the Yes side talks about this Frontline show about a high school for at-risk teens. I almost think it works against charters because the bottom line is that education is hard, intimate work and it will not always succeed DESPITE the best efforts of dedicated people.

You see this in the Frontline show and it brings tears to your eyes.

So sure, vote in 1240 but understand, you have NO sure thing, no mandates and all those ramifications.

Anonymous said...

@R.Atty: I think you miss Mirmac's point: All my friends = 41 other states. Monkey-see, monkey-do. See? Poor reason to do anything. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

-Realistic Attorney,

Let's be clear - what mirmac1 refers to is the marketing ploy of the I-1240 proponents. You know, that we in Washington are an Education Reform backwater (as if that's a bad thing) because we haven't yet opened our arms to charters. We're not cool because we don't dress like those other cool 41 states. We're being told this by the equivalent of the middle school mean girls (regardless of their gender). They have a belief in their authority and rightness - in this case because of the massive money behind the scheme.

Charters on their own do not destroy public schools. They are just another "tool in the toolbox" to divert the public commonwealth to private control and benefit. A public resource to be exploited.

Shift to tactics and strategy following the election? What a waste of resources that could otherwise be focused on actual specific improvements to the current context.

Oompah

Charlie Mas said...

There are some pretty questionable elements in the charter initiative around the authority of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the constitutional requirement for schools to be uniform.

There are additional questions around the conversion charter rules and the below market rent stuff.

In a conversion charter, the initiative says that the free rent from the District is part of the payment to the charter from the state. Except that the school buildings don't belong to the State so the State doesn't have the right to give away their use.

I think there are additional constitutional concerns around the initiative's granting of local levy funds to charter schools. Again, that money doesn't belong to the state so the state doesn't get to decide how it is allocated.

Anonymous said...

Exactly Oompah! Wouldn't it be nice to devote more time to my kids and their schoolmates, instead of having to keep a constant watch on what corrosive efforts the Ed Reform Cartel is up to now?

Hey Reformers, I've got an idea: Open your own damn school and let whomever wants your recipes attend for free! Obviously you can afford it! WSDWG

Anonymous said...

So basically the quality of thought that went into the writing of this initiative sucks.

Oompah

Anonymous said...

Today the Seattle Times has published their second guest editorial AGAINST Referendum 74 (which ST has come out in favor of). Where is the "equal time" for guest editorials AGAINST I-1240? Melissa, I'm curious if you've approached them about a guest editorial.

Oompah

Shannon said...

I am hearing a lot of support for the charter schools initiative from people who are not "reform" educationalists, just parents in the community. They say they want to vote for it because:

1) Public schools are awful now so why not try something else.

2) Maybe we could get more alternative schools going or more innovative programs.

3) Charters free us from the district bureaucracy.

I don't agree but I am not spending my time working on arguments. Its just that I don't see the counter arguments in the press, TV etc so these hopeful optimists are not getting the information to see why not to vote for it.

Even my dear husband said he thought he would vote for the initiative.....

Can someone point me to some simple talking points that are not full of education rhetoric?

Shannon

Dorothy Neville said...

Read I -729 and Ref55. A lot of the language of 1240 is directly from them. Interesting is what's changed. Ref 55 had a mechanism for ensuring preference went to charters to help at -risk kids. That mechanism (other types could not apply until after due date for such charters) was eliminated in 1240.

Also, the levy funding is broader. Previously, charters authorised by other than school district did Not get levy dollars. Plus, levy equalization was not mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Shannon --

I've been pointing my friends with similar views to the Stranger link Melissa posted on the site. I think the Stranger did a great job summing up the issue and making some powerful points that have resonated with my friends who are trying to figure this issue out.

Fey

Maureen said...

Here's a link and the text from the The Stranger's Endorsements.

Initiative Measure 1240

Vote No


If there were a single credible, independent, peer-reviewed study to suggest that charter schools do a better job of educating children than traditional public schools, we might drop our opposition to this measure. But there isn't. A widely cited Stanford University study finds that 17 percent of charters do substantially better, while 37 percent do substantially worse. Maybe it's our public-school education, but we don't like those odds.

I-1240 would draw scarce funding from existing public schools, while handing control over these dollars from elected school boards to private boards. A petition signed in secret by a majority of a school's parents could initiate the conversion of your neighborhood school to a charter school, but there's no like provision to convert a charter school back to a public school. Charters are nominally nonprofit, but there's nothing to stop them from contracting operations to for-profit companies. There's a lot of money to be made off of I-1240, hence the $8.3 million backing it got from the likes of Alice Walton, the Bezos family, Paul Allen, and Bill Gates. (The idea that Bill Gates, who never set foot in a public school as either a student or a parent, should tell us how to run them is doubly insulting.)

Proponents argue this is only a test run, allowing just 40 charters statewide over the next five years. But we know a foot in the door when we see one. Once voters approve even this limited measure, lawmakers will lose their aversion toward expanding its scope. But mostly, we object to the timing. In the wake of the state supreme court's landmark McCleary v. State decision requiring billions more for basic education, charter school advocates have squandered the opportunity to actually fund our public schools, pushing a divisive, ineffective, free market "reform" instead.

Vote no.


Note, Bill Gates did go to public school until 5th or 6th grade. Here's a link to the Stanford "CREDO" Report.

Anonymous said...

I think Melissa's arguments on 1240 are really persuasive, and I liked what the stranger had to say about it. I worry that there is not enough understanding out there about what will happen if 1240 passes, and I wish the NO group had more funding. I have talked to two public school parents who thought that Washington ALREADY had public charter schools -- I wonder how many voters also think charter schools are nationwide. Resistance may be low because charter schools feel inevitable, although of course they aren't.

Also, I get what "scared because that's what I'm hearing" is saying, but I think there are also people planning to vote NO who aren't saying so publically, because it has become somewhat politically unpopular to oppose this bill (perhaps due to the "civil rights issue of our time" language used by charter school proponents).

--parent voting no on 1240

Anonymous said...

From the research that I've done on the subject of Charter Schools. I have found them to be nothing more than a new way to bring back the days of Segregation. Wake County, NC is an excellent example of how it is being done. First the entire School Board was replaced with PRO Charter School Members. Second, the children were systematically separated. Minority students were taken out of schools and away from friendships (some that began in kindergarten) and were bussed to schools in areas where they had no friends and knew nothing about. They were bussed to areas that were more "Minority Populated". Third, the parents of these children were given little to no warning that this change was going to take place. These parents and children were not going to allow this to happen. They realized what was happening and did something about it. They made a stand and made their collective voices heard. They went to the Charter Board and let them know they were not returning to the days of Jim Crow and they were not going to be Segregated.

Futhermore, the true backers of Charter Schools in Wa I believe have no children here. The true backers of Charter Schools is the Koch's and a bunch of other Billionaires with the ability to buy whatever they will. You can Google Wake County, NC and Charter Schools while your at it do the same for Washington State Charter Schools and the Koch brothers, and you will find quite a bit about them on YouTube. I guarantee you will be surprised at what you find. These are the reasons I will be voting NO ON 1240

Standing up for ALL CHILDREN and a TOMORROW THAT IS GREATER THAN TODAY

Unknown said...

Okay, let's go.

First of all, Washington STate is NO backwater:
- 9th year, highest SAT scores in the country
- not one, but TWO Innovation Schools' laws in the last two years
- STEM law as well

C'mon, it's all nonsense to say we are some kind of laggards.

Consider this:

- Washington State has said NO to charters three times. We are the ONLY state in the union to do this.

- 44 states have income tax. We don't.

- 42 states have some sort of legislative statement against gay marriage. Washington State's legislature? They passed gay marriage.

Whether you agree with any of those actions, it points to ONE thing.

Washington State voters are INDEPENDENT thinkers. We do NOT follow the crowd, never have and never will.

I am glad to live in a state like that.

We have two places at the No On 1240 website (www.no1240.org) that can help. One is place is our FAQs - nearly 25 of them ALL with citations to the initiative. You won't find that at the Yes site.

Also, we have a document on our home page - Things Voters Need to Consider with issues about charters, I-1240 AND good things already happening in Washington State.

By the way, everyone should get over that "let's try" or "experiment" with charters. It's a law, not a pilot program and once that barn door is open, the horses are out.

Anonymous said...



"Washington State voters are INDEPENDENT thinkers. We do NOT follow the crowd, never have and never will.

I am glad to live in a state like that."


- Yes, amen to our independence, Ms. Westbrook. It is one of the things that makes us such a progressive state. And yet, our lack of a state income tax. We don't like to talk about that much, When we try to do something about it, we stick our heads in the sand. We refuse to tax ourselves in a progressive way, and as long as that is the case, we will never fully fund our public schools in a progressive way. That is why some are considering holding their nose and supporting I-1240, warts and all. I remain undecided. However, there is no dispute that our current system is not adequately serving large populations of students, and parents are desperate to try anything new, even if it's against their own long term interests or that of the system as a whole. Even the Credo Study - which is the only national empirical study we have on charters - found that at least two sub groups of students are better served in the schools that were included in their study. Yes, the study was only 16 states, and it left out 25 states from the study. But for those 16 states, the authors concluded that students in poverty and ELL students were better served than in traditional settings. There is no guarantee that would be the case here, if the initiative passes, but there is no guarantee things will be better for those groups either if the initiative goes down to defeat. If one is realistic, or call it even pessimistic, about our states's ability to fund programs in a equitable way, then it is not a huge leap for one to conclude that a vote for 1240 is the least bad option in our highly imperfect system. Again - stil undecided, but ever and always a

- Realistic Attorney

Jan said...

Realistic Attorney -- if there was anything in 1240 that increased funding, I would be able to follow your argument much better. But there is not. In fact, the costs of implementation (to say nothing for the potential for financial and resource havoc if charters are conversion charters) would argue that things will be worse, not better. I fully concur that voting against it -- and then doing NOTHING -- gets one nowhere. But just last session, the legislature voted for creative approach schools -- we haven't even had a chance to implement them to see if they move the needle. The teacher assessment provisions are also new and have not had any time to take effect.

So, I cannot see it. Why this (bad) bill? And why now? From an educational policy point of view, the timing alone (much less the content) would seem to make no sense. Of course, if the real goal is to divert public dollars to private corporations -- now would be exactly the right time, as none of the initiatives passed last session were designed to accomplish that goal.

Jan said...

One more thought for Realistic Attorney -- on the legal points.

First, I have never researched the "common schools" issues that derive from our state constitution. But I do know a little about "gifts" of public assets -- and think that this law (which is significantly greedier than any of the laws that legislatures have actually passed in other states -- but what do you expect when you let the greedy recipients write their own wish list/legislation) has a number of flaws, relating to use of public assets by private entities for free or at less than market value.

If you just took THOSE bad provisions out -- so that charter schools here, like charters in other places, had to find and fund their own spaces, rather than squat for free in District buildings, it would be a start towards better legislation. Then -- if you added back a preference for using this tool to address economically/educationally disadvantaged kids (specifically prohibited by this bill), it might help (that's a little lukewarm -- but I have this sense of "educational experiments on poor minority kids that dislikes singling them out here). Finally, if you added governance/management provisions that ensured robust school control by communities (either the geographic community, or the school community, or something), provisions mandating the shut-down of schools performing so horrifically that citizens ought to be protected from having to prop them up with tax dollars, and basic oversight provisions to prevent most fiscal and management abuses, you would be miles further down the road than this bill goes. Could that be drafted for consideration by the legislature? Yes. Would it be a better bill than this travesty of one? Yes.

But again -- I contend that for its true purpose, this bill is not flawed at all. In fact, it is a perfect "gem." It elegantly manages to create a vehicle to transfer public assets to private corporations, while leaving behind virtually all ability by state or local government or citizens (including parents) to maintain control over the use or abuse of their tax dollars and the capital assets that charters will grab. It is a charter management organization's dream!

Anonymous said...

I should have returned sooner. I'm sorry, as 1240 is fait accompli.

FIRST: Realistic Attorney writes beautifully. I wonder if he (she?) is a product of the U.S. public education system, prior to college etc. If so, he would be a perfect poster child for public education advocacy.

He was not being antagonistic. He was on your side! He didn't like the idea of Prop. 1240, but was conjecturing as to why it might pass, and if it passed, why it would be upheld. "So what? Why does his opinion matter more than mine?" It isn't that his opinion is more worthy or important. He IS an attorney, conjecturing about legal matters. I'm jealous. I've never had an attorney take time to discuss anything with me, on my blogs or elsewhere. They are paid highly for their time. I'm happy that Realistic Attorney is not venal, thinks of his children's best interests first, and realizes the importance of a fiscally sound and inclusive public education system.

He mentioned Arizona. I live in Arizona. Charter schools have not been a success here. My mother and my two aunts were junior high school teachers for decades. The best schools in the area where I live are public schools in mostly Mormon areas. I am not a Mormon. These are suburban areas, with suburban population densities, not the recidivist hinterlands. There is never a problem with funding public schools, for K-12 as well as community colleges. Would they like to include Bible study? Maybe. But they don't. My mother tried teaching at a charter school. Despite the seemingly higher pay (fewer benefits though), less supervision from principal, school district rules etc., she was unhappy and dissatisfied. She returned to the public school system, and taught conversational Spanish to 7 and 8th grader's, and bilingual social studies classes, until she retired at 67 years of age.

Second A prior comment included this:
"First of all, Washington STate is NO backwater... C'mon, it's all nonsense to say we are some kind of laggards. 44 states have income tax. We don't. Washington State voters are INDEPENDENT thinkers. We do NOT follow the crowd..."

If I didn't know better, I'd think I'd landed in the heart of Libertarian Land. How do you pay for your schools? Taxes are socially useful, a public good. Unless grossly misappropriated, they serve to redistribute resources in a systematic way, from the wealthy (and the non-wealthy who don't have children) to the school system and support of related services that benefit children. It is nice to receive Federal government funding. But it usually works better, is easier to administer, when schools are funded with taxes and contributions from local people, for the children of the local community. It also protects you from situations like Prop. 1240.

Please forgive me if my tone is brusque. I don't understand what is going on. Why does Alice Walton et. al. want to divert (usurp?) public school funding with initiatives such as 1240? There are many people in Seattle who can serve as school administrators and teachers, especially with better pay. They know what is best for educating students. Bill Gates knows Microsoft, Waltons know Walmart, hedge funders know hedge funding. None know how to run a junior high school. Waltons, Gates and the (very few) others ALREADY have so much money! They and their children live gilded lives. Michael Wolf and our PhD friends considered me to be the capitalist, traditional (and somewhat distasteful, too materialist) because I left school, worked for IBM and liked classical music (after studying flute for 8 years in PUBLIC SCHOOL orchestra and band), while they wore tie-dyed shirts, went to Grateful Dead concerts and donated their tax refunds to the World Wildlife Foundation. Michael and I both attended public schools prior to Stanford. I am fairly certain that Anne Dinning and Jeff Bezos (and Jeff's wife) did too.