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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Charter Commission Picks Questioned

So not all the Charter Commission picks have been happily received and there have been some surprising things said about some of the newly minted members.

The two primary targets are Kevin Jacka and Steve Sundquist. 

Superintendent Jacka is from Springdale and leads the Mary Walker School District.  He is suspect because he signed a No on 1240 page (I can't discern if it was the No on 1240 campaign or the WEA campaign.)  Nonetheless, many superintendents, out of concern for their districts, did sign the petition.  (And indeed, even some of the districts recently signed up with a letter of intent to become authorizers are still expressing concern.) 

Steve Sundquist, well, we all know he ran in November 2011 as being against charters.  He filled out a King County Dems questionnaire and said he was against them (as well as vouchers).  But he lost and by January 2012 was at his Legislative district meeting touting them.  

Over at the Washington State Wire, they go over the issue in detail.

Turns out Lt. Governor Brad Owen's (who picked Jacka) had missed this detail.  But Jacka says he had a change of heart now.  "I think my position has probably evolved over time."  "I see charter schools as fitting a niche, almost like a marketing niche, and I just see some opportunities there."

Oh.

Oddly, WSW seems to take Sundquist's "evolution" more seriously than Jacka's (but I'm not sure why).  Sundquist's change of heart seems to have happened nearly overnight.   

"I've come a long way in my thinking" was what he told WSW.


Maybe a long way in his thinking but it happened over quite a short period of time.   (I'm not saying he couldn't have been pondering this question but he certainly didn't tell voters that when he was running.)

What is fascinating is that WSW asked the head of Stand for Children, Shannon Campion, about this issue and her answer is worth noting.

WSW quotes her as saying that "a public stand in favor of the initiative probably shouldn't be a litmus test." 

I'm off to the first meeting of the Charter Commission tomorrow.  This should be interesting. 

9 comments:

Watching said...

Thanks for going to Olympia.

Unknown said...

At the town hall school board candidates' debate back in 2011, I tried, but was unable to prevent my eyes from rolling when certain candidates, among them Steve Sundquist, went to the anti-charter side of the stage. My eyes seem to have a mind of their own that way.

As a matter of decorum, we must accept at face value what our public officials or candidates tell us until they give us public reasons to publicly challenge them. As a matter of practical wisdom, we are fools to accept at face value what they tell us when it is out of alignment with the thinking of their base support.

It's a rare politician that truly thinks independently--politics isn't a particularly good career choice for people who do. And so unless you know for sure you are dealing with such a rarity, your default should be to assume that the thinking of the people he hangs out with is the stronger indicator of his true thinking regardless what he says he thinks.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jack, I'm pretty sure Steve didn't make that Town Hall event BUT he did later say he would have walked to the No side of the stage.

Jan said...

The "support" test for charter commission members is an odd one. I think it entirely possible that someone could have been a no vote on 1240 and yet be an excellent commission member. All it means is that you were able to see the various negative effects that charters might have if introduced in Washington and, on the whole, would have preferred not to go there. Once there, I think that having some members with that perspective (how does a proposal advance public education in the state as a whole, how does it fit within the other public education options in a given community, etc.) are terrific questions, and ones we should WANT charter commissioners to address. I also think that once voters voted for this (no matter how great the disinformation, and how slim the margin), it is only appropriate to exclude from the Commission anyone whose dislike of charters is so implacable that they cannot reasonably be supposed to cooperate in good faith with the purposes of the Commission. This is the reason it is fine to have folks on a jury who are uneasy with the use (and scope) and application of the death penalty -- but NOT folks on the jury who indicate, up front, that nothing in the world could ever make them impose it. My biggest problem with Steve is that I don't think his stated position before was authentic (which makes me distrust him) AND I have not seen anything in his decision-making -- particularly with respect to West Seattle -- that gives me any reason to think that he will be good at reviewing charter school proposals with an eye towards the benefit or harm that they may do to a community. I thought some of his worst decisions (or non-decisions) involved the negative effects of school board decisions (school closings, school siting, etc.) on communities. It would be one thing if he had even been able to acknowledge and/or articulate the damage -- but then voted for it anyway for various other compelling reasons (cost, etc.). But he never even seemed to be able to see or acknowledge the effects his positions were having -- even when it was his very own district at stake.

RosieReader said...

I'm withJan. Why is appointing someone to this commission who didn't support charters a bad thing? I see it as the opposite. I assume they'd be more skeptical about pretty much everything, and more likely to insist on "belts and suspenders" compliance with rules and requirements.

In real life, haven't we all had circumstances where something we objected to came to pass anyway, and we worked within that new system as best we could? How is this any different?

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