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Monday, November 12, 2012

I-1240 Passes

According to the Associated Press. 

Apparently, charter supporters are hoping for some as early as next fall (and I wouldn't be surprised unless there are lawsuits which might give some charter operators pause). 

According to the Times:

Some charter-school groups have already expressed interest in coming here, and the superintendent of Spokane Public Schools is interested in having a charter in her district, according to The Spokesman-Review.

Interestingly, only one member of the Spokane School Board came out against I-1240 so maybe so.  Unfortunately, the Times leads readers to believe that only the Charter Commission will be okaying charters but if a school board gets vetted by the DOE, they, too, can approve charters.  

Randy Dorn, the elected head of the state's Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, believes that the state Constitution requires all public schools to be under his department's jurisdiction. Charter supporters say they're confident he is wrong, but Dorn has asked the state attorney general's office for advice on what his legal options might be.

Now that the vote (for the most part) is done, I'll have an interesting story to tell about the fight against it.  

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think our goal in Seattle should be to ensure any venture is adequately vetted and, most importantly, that no group of parents is smooth-talked by paid signature gatherers into going along with something that hasn't been fully disclosed to them, like has happened in California. If a group of parents in the South End, for example, really, really want a charter, and everything is transparent and fully-disclosed then let democracy rule. Except for that thorny part about what happens to the "minority" who don't want charters, who either have to suck it up or find a way to go elsewhere, because their common school just got wiped off the map by a charter chain. The legal battles surrounding that thorny issue will be interesting, for sure.

The bigger issue is how, so often what is par for the course for ed reformers is deliberate deception. Just listen in on one of A+ Washington's conference calls, for example, and listen to the BS and speculation that gets passed off as facts.

For these folks to sell themselves as Democrats, is a complete hypocritical joke as well, as all of their methods for creating the "illusion of consensus" are ripped right out of Right Wing playbooks.

WSDWG



Josh Hayes said...

I guess my question needs a lawyer to answer it: who has standing to even FILE lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of 1240? Could I, in theory, march down and file suit against it on constitutional grounds?

Unknown said...

Yes, it was a vote of the people so any taxpayer has standing (my non-legal read of it). Dorn wants to understand how this works with his constitutional duties (and that's a fair question) vis a vis what our state constitution says about "common schools".

Mike said...

"what our state constitution says about "common schools"."

Seeing that our State Supreme Court punted on the question of our government properly funding schools, I wouldn't hold our breath on something overturning 1240...

n... said...

The outcome couldn't have been tighter. You gave it a good try. If citizens throughout the state had been as informed as those of us in King County - thanks to you - it wouldn't have passed.

There's a little radio blog I read that says KPTK is flipping tomorrow. That would leave us without any liberal talk in Seattle. No Thom Hartmann? I can't imagine it. Yeah, I can listen online but who's got a computer connection available all the time. And I don't have all the i... stuff.

Not a lawyer said...

> The outcome couldn't have been tighter.

If both sides had had equal funding, it wouldn't have passed. The reality is that everyone just watched legislation being purchased. Even charter advocates should be disturbed at how this result was obtained.

@Josh Hayes: I believe you need to show that you are being harmed, and having your taxpayer dollars being misspent doesn't cut it according to wiki.

Anonymous said...

Well, the two NO votes from my house still haven't been counted as of 8 PM tonight...

SolvayGirl

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


It may be futile, and Monday morning quarterbacking, but will we get to see an accounting of how the No campaign spent the money it raised? Just generally, how as in what % went to signs, to any even limited advertising, reimbursement for out of pockets for volunteers such as mileage driven, etc? It was so close and one wonders what might have been if more funds had been raised, especially since it seems like too much was spent on Inslee and not enough here, by the major education groups.

- Curious reader

Anonymous said...

As I said in another thread, your ballot likely HAS been counted. "your ballot has been received and will be prepared for counting" (or whatever it says) is the last message one can see in the ballot tracker. there is no other step you can see. I don't think there is a message that says "your ballot has been counted." someone can chime in if i am wrong.
-- two question marks

mirmac1 said...

Washington does not require taxpayers to assert any special injury to obtain standing where they challenge that a governmental entity is acting contrary to law. Kightlinger v. Public Utility Dist. No. 1 of Clark County 119 WN.App. 501, 506, 81 P3d 876. Barnett v. Lincoln, 162 Wash. 613, 623, 299 P. 392. American Legion Post No. 32 v City of Walla Walla, 116 Wn2d 1, 7-8, 802 P.2d 784.

suep. said...

UPDATE: The "Yes" lead has shrunk to 50.8 according to today's Times, and there are still ballots that have not been counted.

So it is trending in the No direction.

The No side has not conceded.

So, technically, it's not over, despite what the Assoc. Press may say.



Unknown said...

Just to be clear, our No campaign is not going to concede. It's not an elective office where someone needs to get ready for office and no, the votes have not all been counted. There really is no need.

Curious Reader, I'm not sure if you are asking what each No campaign spent but yes, for the larger one, that's a very good question and one I can answer (to some degree).

Jamie said...

Just wanted to give a huge thank you to Melissa and others who worked on the No campaign. Your hard work is much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Heard on KUOW today that Kipp and other charter companies are reviewing the law and it's constitutionality and any likelihood of lawsuits, to determine if it's worth trying to come into WA state.

Solvay Girl

Anonymous said...

Does the charter initiative allow for online charter schools? Also, can students attend a charter school on a part-time basis, as they can do now with state schools?

wondering parent

Jan said...

Two question marks: What the tracker (at least the one I am looking at) says is:

"We have received your ballot, your signature has been verified, and you will be credited with participating in this election.

Your returned ballot packet will soon be opened and your ballot will be prepared for counting."

You are correct, I think, that that is the "last update" a voter can get. At this point, we are to understand that out vote is "in." Now that it has been separated from the envelope with our signature on it, there is no further way that they can tell us if and when it has actually been counted and added to the yes/no tallies.

Anonymous said...

Wondering parent -

WA already allows online schools, though they have to run through a local district. There were many issues around this back in 2002-2004, especially with the objection to having WA tax dollars go to out of state companies like k12.com. Eventually they allowed online schooling, but there are some tricks being played, like running the “school” through a district like Steilacoom. Used to be stuff in the Puget Sound Business Journal on this. WEA got involved because some of the online teachers had caseloads of 70+ kids that they were supposed to “interact” with. I suspect they’ll try again with charters so that they can do an end-run around WEA.
-CT

Eric B said...

An interesting item on constitutionality is that the WA Constitution reserves oversight and control of all schools to the Superintendent of Public Instruction. 1240 takes a substantial amount of control away from SPI and the State Board of Education and places it with the Charter Commission. SPI and SBOE are nominally in charge, but they have no real power other than approval of school district authorizers (not the statewide commission) and rubber-stamping what authorizers do.

Gone With The Wind said...

"I-1240 Passes" Deal with it

Melissa Westbrook said...

We're discussing outcomes here, Gone, and you are welcome to join or leave.

Josh Hayes said...

At the community meeting with Sharon Peaslee, some Pinehurst reps, and some Jane Adams reps, apparently there was some relevant discussion of the charter issue; here's what the meeting summary had to say about it:

"There was also discussion on the impact of the Charter Schools Initiative 1240 passing. The District does not believe it is constitutional and plans to file a lawsuit. Conversely, there was a concern expressed that the new Charter Schools Commission could file an injunction against the Seattle School Board so that schools that are candidates to convert to a charter school are not torn down. There was a brief discussion that Pinehurst K-8 could be seen as a candidate since it already has an alternative teaching model. Director Sharon Peaslee believed that the District would prevail and it did not seem concerned that Pinehurst would be unavailable to build a new school for Jane Addams K-8."

For my part, the interesting part here is that Director Peaslee indicated that the district is planning to file suit to block the law. I guess I would regard this as "scuttlebutt" until there's some confirmation, but it's interesting.

Josh Hayes said...

I should have added that this was Director Peaslee's regular meeting, I think, on November 12 at Lake City Library. There ya go.

Charlie Mas said...

So... now what?

First, there is sure to be some challenge to the constitutionality of the law. It can be challenged on a number of fronts. Given the Washington State Supreme Court, I don't expect any of the challenges to prevail. It has more to do with the Court than the merit of the arguments.

At the same time we will see the formation of the Charter School Commission and the rest of the infrastructure required by this new law including charter school applications, an application review process, and a timeline for the entire process. That should be interesting because I'm really curious about who will be appointed.

You know, if they wanted, the new governor, Mr. Chopp, or Mr. Murray could appoint charter school opponents to the commission. They could appoint Mel Westbrook, Dora Taylor, and Olga Addae. I'm not sure who could challenge their choices or how they could do so. Who would have standing? Who would hear the challenge? There's no process for it set into the initiative. It would amuse the hell out of me if one of them did it. How does someone prove that they support charter schools?

By the Spring there will be some charter school applications. I don't know if there will be many conversion charter applications. Both will present additional constitutional challenges.

Here in Seattle I would look for charter schools seeking to use the Columbia and Van Asselt buildings.

The schools will want to get the buildings rent free. They will expect it. They shouldn't. The law does not require it; it only allows it. I don't really see the District agreeing to that.

Same for free rent on conversion charters. The state has no right to contribute the free use of the district's property. It would be like some guy moving into you garage and living there rent-free because I said that he could. The state doesn't own the property, doesn't control the property and doesn't have the right to assign use of it or set rents for it.

Then we will see how many folks choose to enroll their children in these schools. I think it's going to be like Krispy Kreme. When the first one opened in Issaquah they were lined up for weeks. When the second one opened in SoDo they were lined up for days. When the third one opened in Bitter Lake they were lined up for hours. I don't think the enthusiastic demand for charter schools will extend much beyond a couple. I'm not sure there will be eight applications in the first year.

I don't think we have to worry very much about closely monitoring these schools. They will be very closely monitored by the media. It will be a real circus.

Within a few years the whole thing will calm down. Maybe sometime around the fourth year a chain like RocketShip will show up and try to create three to five schools at once. Other than that, though, I think this story will fade and soon people won't think any more of charters than they think of private or alternative schools.

The only question that remains is how long until there's an effort to lift the 40 school cap.

Anonymous said...

Pinehurst could file to become a conversion charter to protect an unusual learning environment... and prevent the closure of their program. They've mentioned that they're an award-winning program; it seems like given the unique nature of their programming and the fact it's won awards would make them a viable conversion candidate.

Also: money on that South Shore K-8 already has the outline of their application to become a conversion charter. LEV and the New School Foundation merged - it would be like their own little lab school.

-place your bets

Melissa Westbrook said...

South Shore maybe because of the LEV muscle behind it. Pinehurst? Maybe but you have to think about who is approving these and what they want the first charters to be.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the judiciary the only entity w legal standing to file an injunction? (per josh's report on pinehurst meeting). I believe that someone said it t the meeting, I just question if the appointed charter commission has any standing to file an injunction re building preservation..

I believe the schools w CAS applications are good candidates for charter conversion. Like queen Anne elementary for ex. That CAS reads like a charter application already.

Still No 1240

Anonymous said...

The Charter School Push back A Day Late and $20 Million Short



To a large degree, the Education Advocate/Parent community in Seattle doesn't support charter schools. Early this summer, Initiative 1240 garnered enough support to be put on the November 2012 ballot.

We heard it brewing. We knew it was coming. With the mega-funding from Gates Foundation, Wal -Mart (the Walton foundation), and the Fishers, it was no problem for the pro-Charter crowd to hire an army of signature gatherers to collect signatures and "inform" the public on the merits of charter schools, putting the initiative on the ballot in record time,

Yet, after the signatures were gathered, a curious thing happened.

Nothing.

Yes, lots of complaining, some grumblings and criticisms from the blogosphere, but NO ORGANIZED PUSH BACK. With no one at the helm of the organized anti-charter school contingency, the Pro-Charter school forces gained a lot of credibility.

It also didn't hurt their cause that Seattle School District No. 1 had been making deleterious decisions which harmed families, such as school closures and neighborhood schools -the New Student Assignment plan, These derisive decisions were practically free advertising for I-1240.

$20 million is a lot to stare down. But no organized push back is worse.

How could this be?

If any of you think that the anti-charter movement is to be won on principal, then you are wrong. In politics, the cause doesn't let the opposition redefine them for eight months without a push back.

So what happened to the push back?

A well organized, well funded initiative cannot be defeated without, at the minimum, some organization and yes, some funds. So, to the anti-charter contingency, this is a call to arms.Yours is a useless position of you don't back up the "NO on I-1240."

Find those really disgruntled, downtrodden, picked on, lied-to parents and explain to them why this initiative will make things worse for them, not better in Seattle, and not everyone can afford to jump ship to private schools.. Parents are desperate. Let them know that, though education funds are spread thin, it will be even thinner.

Home made yard signs.... stop fellow shoppers at the supermarket with kids. Ask them what they think about fewer funds for public schools.

You will b surprised at the support in your own back yard.

Let us know what you think.

Email us at NICKESPARZA@seattleschooldistrictexposed.com

Anonymous said...

No, any citizen can challenge the legality of a ballot initiative and seek an injunction to try to prevent its application. (Recall all of the successful injunctions on past Tim Eyman initiatives).

-IMHO

Anonymous said...

Nick: We did the best we could. You try pushing back against 11 million with 300k and see if you can muster 49.2%, against any initiative. Resources matter in a market-driven, zero-rebuttal news environment. And the number of people who vote on legislation without ever reading it is shameful and grossly negligent. Little by little our democracy is sold to the highest bidder.

Frankly, for a bunch of bloggers with other jobs, families to raise, etc., I think we all did a hell of a job against a large, well-organized propaganda machine.

But I agree with you that the fight is far from over, and in fact, is just beginning. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

And lets not forget the lies that have been told to the public over the past several years, MGJ and Mayor McGinn perpetrated an outright lie that only 17% of SPS students graduated college ready. Then it was corrected to 49%, then later to 62%. Only a swing of 45%. But by then, we couldn't un-ring the bell.

When McGinn runs again, I'd like to see if he'll apologize for declaring that our schools were "in crisis" based on the false 17% figure. I won't hold my breath.

If Emmett Watson were still around, he'd call them out as the shameless, opportunistic, self-aggrandizing, lying bastards they all are.

Anonymous said...

Look Up! 'Tis me.

WSDWG

suep. said...

Regarding which schools would be likely to be granted charter status, the text of I-1240 stresses that the authorizers (ie. the commission) will give preference to charter school applications designed to enroll underprivileged kids. In fact, it practically requires this (which also sounds potentially unconstitutional).

From Sec. 214 (2) (bold mine): "Authorizers shall give preferences to applications to charter schools that are designed to enroll and serve at-risk student populations(...)"

(There is a proviso that follows this sentence, but it is unconvincing and contradictory.)

And from Sec 213, (5): "In the case of an application from an applicant that operates one or more schools in any state or nation, the applicant must provide evidence of past performance, including evidence of the applicant's success in serving at-risk students, and capacity for growth."

Do the demographics of schools like Pinehurst or QAE meet this criteria?

(And what "growth" is it referring to at the end? Seems to imply that of the 'business'/charter franchise itself. --More important to the corporate charter pushers than student growth, no doubt.)

As for QAE, they already have a logo/mascot that resembles the Rocketship Education Inc. charter logo, they originally had a tech focus, and one of their teachers belongs to the Astroturf "Teacher's United," endorsed the I-1240 (when most teachers in this town dare not voice their political views publicly) and is married to an ed reform LEV-ite, so who knows.

http://www.rsed.org/
http://www.queenanneelementary.com/

Nick E. -- so what precisely did you do to fend off the $11 million charter push? And how do you know that the rest of us weren't pushing back? Some of us have been writing and speaking out about the ills of ed reform, locally and nationally, for a number of years. If any of us were paid generous salaries like S. Morris or C. Korsmo to push our viewpoints full time and to a fawning press (a la the Seattle-McKenna Times), I'm sure we would have had better results.

But none of us are guns for hire. We're parents, teachers and volunteers, with no laundered Gates money paying for our opinions.

I'm sure you know that, and I share your frustration overall.

Now, if you're talking about the weak resistance from the WEA, that's another story.

suep. said...

(Hey WSDWG, we overlap again!)

Unknown said...

Sue, that "preference" is a vapor. There is no weighting, directive on HOW that is to happen. That the Charter Commission will make different considerations than school board makes it all crazy.

I don't blame any community for wanting a change that they don't see coming fast enough.

However, in any conversion charter, the question has to be asked - who does any school belong to? The parents, the teachers, the district, taxpayers?

In the case of a middle or high school, the parents are there 3-4 years? If 51% want the change but not the other 49%, is their voice enough to change a school forever?

The districts and the union have themselves to blame. They have gotten to a place of change but a day late and a dollar short. So you have to wonder what we will end up with and what kind of "public" education we will have?

And this is one of the faults of the ed reformers - they care a lot of a small number of schools and students without considering the consequence to the ENTIRE system and the majority of the students. Maybe that isn't the charter school system's problem but you would think that DFER and LEV might have some concern (but apparently not).

Anonymous said...

true IMHO,
"any citizen can challenge the legality of a ballot initiative and seek an injunction to try to prevent its application."

I was talking about the actual order of injunction that is enforceable by law, and I think injunctions are issued by the judiciary. Not the charter commission.

I'd be very interested in hearing who will challenge in court (SPS, Dorn etc)- they need to file for an injunction that stays any further progress on rolling out the charter commission/authorizers/schools pending the outcome of the litigation (if Dorn and/or SPS actually sue of course)

-still No1240

Anonymous said...

Well it seems pretty clear that I-1240 violates the State Constitution.

See this article from The Sun Break which talks about Mr. Dorn as well as the constitution.

-- Dan Dempsey

Eric B said...

Another interesting thing in I-1240 is that I don't think it has a severability clause. Most laws that are constitutionally questionable have a clause that says something like "If one part of this is struck down, the rest stands." Highly complex legislation (like health care reform) typically doesn't, since there are a lot of moving parts that all have to fit together to make it work. However, without a severability clause in I-1240, a judge striking down any part would be pressured to strike down the whole thing. It would be kind of amusing if the whole house of cards collapsed because conversion charters get schools at no fee.

I hope the charter commission would be sadly disappointed if they go to a judge asking to intervene in internal capacity management decisions of the school district because a school might try to convert to a charter. That would be a heck of an overreach, and would place the district on the public opinion high ground, especially if the Pinehurst community wasn't making any serious noises about converting.

Anonymous said...

50.79% Yes
49.21% No

It is steadily losing ground. What happens if it ties?

HP

Someone said...

@HP - I wondered that too - there's still about 170,00 votes to be counted so I suppose that's possible in theory - I did find out there is provision for automatic recounts on Statewide Measures but it's pretty narrow:

RCW 29A.64.090

When the official canvass of returns of any election reveals that the difference in the number of votes cast for the approval of a statewide measure and the number of votes cast for the rejection of such measure is less than two thousand votes and also less than one-half of one percent of the total number of votes cast on such measure, the secretary of state shall direct that a recount of all votes cast on such measure be made on such measure, in the manner provided by *RCW

Anonymous said...

I put this on other thread too, but this article gives a great overview of the constitutional issues as well.

http://www.nwprogressive.org/weblog/2012/11/randy-dorn-says-i-1240-is-unconstitutional-he-may-go-to-court-to-overturn-the-initiative.html

(still no on 1240)

Charlie Mas said...

Eric B, The initiative does have a severability clause. Section 402 reads:
"If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected."

I was mistaken when I wrote that the new governor, Mr. Chopp, and Mr. Murray will be the ones to appoint the members of the charter school commission. The appointments will be made by Mr. Inslee, Mr. Chopp, and Brad Owen, the lieutenant governor. The lieutenant governor is the President of the State Senate. Mr. Murray will be the President Pro Tempore of the State Senate. The initiative gives the power to the President of the State Senate, not the President Pro Tempore.

kgroth said...

@Josh Hayes - I created the original blog post on Director Sharon Peaslee's community meeting and I edited it today after I realized that I misunderstood an acronym she said. Sharon said that SPI plans to file a lawsuit and that's for the whole state, I don't believe she said that the Seattle School District is suing.

See the revised version below and in the following link:

http://pinehurstk8seattle.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/regarding-jane-addams-moving-to-pinehurst/

"There was also discussion on the impact of the Charter Schools Initiative 1240 passing. The Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) does not believe it is constitutional and plans to file a lawsuit. Conversely, there was a concern expressed that the new Charter Schools Commission could file an injunction against the Seattle School Board so that schools that are candidates to convert to a charter school are not torn down. There was a brief discussion that Pinehurst K-8 could be seen as a candidate since it already has an alternative teaching model. Director Sharon Peaslee believed that the SPI would prevail and the District does not seem concerned that Pinehurst would be unavailable to build a new school for Jane Addams K-8."

Pinehurst has a community meeting tonight and we'll discuss all possible options to preserve our alternative program and community. Since some families expressed interest in Charter schools (I don't know if there is 51% interest) I expect that will be discussed as well.

kgroth said...

Is there a way to edit my post on this blog? I sent the community meeting recap to Director Sharon Peaslee and she said all was accurate except the following sentence. She cannot comment on it since she's not a lawyer. I removed it from the Pinehurst blog.

Please remove:

"Director Sharon Peaslee believed that the SPI would prevail and the District does not seem concerned that Pinehurst would be unavailable to build a new school for Jane Addams K-8."

Unknown said...

K groth, where did you initially post this - which thread?

Jan said...

You can't get an injunction unless you can show a high likelihood of "irreparable harm." I don't believe that anyone acting under the new charter law could establish that.

But frankly, I hope they try. I think it would be FABULOUS if the "first shot across the bow" by the charter folks is a naked attempt to grab capital assets of a school district, against the wishes of its school board and to the clear detriment of "other" public school kids.

I think it would create an opportunity (that might not otherwise exist) to file two initiatives for NEXT fall -- one to repeal the entire charter bill, and one to strip it of the ability to "squat" on school district property when the District has other plans for the use of that property.

Believe me, NOTHING (other than the defeat of the BEX levy next spring, now that no one can know how much of that money will go to any of the projects that the District has planned -- and as for the portion that is siphoned off to charters, no one knows how much will go, what it will be used for, or even the entities that will be spending it. I had to laugh at the ST's self-congratulatory editorial last week, crowing about how willing taxpayers are to vote for taxes (the fingerprint ID system and the seawall) as long as they know exactly what they are getting for their money, and how it will be spent. I am looking forward to their explanation as to why anyone should now vote for a BEX levy.

Jan said...

Sorry -- that last sentence should have said:

Believe me, NOTHING (other than the defeat of the BEX levy next spring, now that no one can know how much of that money will go to any of the projects that the District has planned -- and as for the portion that is siphoned off to charters, no one knows how much will go, what it will be used for, or even the entities that will be spending it) will wake taxpayers up faster to the power that they have given away to Big Ed. . . . .

Unknown said...

I think Dorn could prove "irreparable harm" to his office. But yes, Jan is right on most points.

Jan said...

Melissa -- I thought someone was suggesting that a charter group seeking to take over Pinehurst would attempt to get an injunction preventing the District from tearing down the building and rebuilding it for a different "program." My point was that I didn't think a charter group (particularly early in the process) could establish irreparable harm. I wasn't trying to opine on whether Dorn could. It is an interesting question, though, to consider the harm on the other side. Because the entity that would really suffer the harm would be the District, not Dorn.