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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

First Washington State Charter Applicant

And it's a bit confusing.

The Enumclaw Patch is reporting that the Cedar River Academy, currently a private school, is applying to become a charter school.  It's confusing because, under the law, a private school cannot become a charter school. 

Reading on I see that CRA is a non-profit corporation and, I assume, is going to spin-off a charter. (I am trying to reach them to confirm this.)  Their current school is about 160 students, pre-K to 12.

CRA is conducting a "survey of Washington State families to learn of the level of community support for the creation of public schools that provide active learning, project-based and constructivist education."  They are trying to get this backing as a level of support from the community for their application so they invite you to read about them and then take their "survey."

I hadn't thought of exactly how charters would be showing this support but I guess a one-sided survey might do it.  Because, if you take the survey, you are endorsing their application. 



21 comments:

seattle citizen said...

So a private school cannot become a charter, but a private can "spin off" a charter under the same name?
What's the diff? The school would then just shift its students into the new charter, and viola, instant $6000 per student from the state for the private, uh, charter school.
If, in fact, a private CAN'T become a charter but CAN engage in such tomfoolery, the law is even worse than we thought.

Eric B said...

If the plan is to close the private school and re-open as a charter, I don't see how it's prevented by the law. The private school is already a non-profit, so there's nothing to prevent the school organization from opening a charter. I'm surprised that they're not just saying that they have 160 students in their school, so that proves community desire for their curriculum/focus/whatever.

They might have to pull some fancy footwork to get all of their current students enrolled in the charter, though. Theoretically, the school should be open to everyone, with a lottery if there are more applicants than slots. That's a minor hurdle, and can be defeated easily without proper oversight. The simplest way is to have a deadline for application for the school and advertise it poorly.

Charlie Mas said...

A church cannot open a charter, but a church can form an independent (cough, cough) non-profit which can open the school.

Melissa Westbrook said...

SC, I don't quite get it, either. It sounds like they will use the same name and same learning environment. I'll try to find out.

Erick, I'm pretty sure that 1240 has a clause about a private not being able to reopen as a charter (non-profit or not). I think they would have to close the private one.

mirmac1 said...

OMG! The flood gates are opening! Stand back for the masses yearning to get charter-schooled.

seattle citizen said...

@Charlie - The "Church" of Scientology wanted to open schools, so they spun off a separate entity: Applied Scholastics.

They leased space and opened a branch in the John Marshall building a couple of years back (imagine they are gone, now, due to remodel).

SPS evidently didn't know Applied Scholastics was Scientology (and even if they did, since it was a separate entity, if they said, "no lease!" would be they be sued or some such thing?

Imagine Scientology charter schools, what fun!

Melissa Westbrook said...

SC, I knew about that school in John Marshall as well. Naturally that "S" word was never used but you could see it in their website and print materials.

Just wait for Gulen, the largest charter operator in the country to come in. Google them and get worried. Texas is trying very hard to kick them out of the state.

Unknown said...

Applied Scholastic Academy is now Laurel Academy. They have a new building on 127th and 35th. Still Scientology-based, though.

Maureen said...

So was the "first come first served" aspect of WA charters ever clarified? If CRA meets the basic requirements of a charter do they have to be approved because they are first? (Sorry if I missed any clarification!)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Maureen, if a charter is approved (and that is up to the authorizer and each authorizer may interpret the law's requirements differently), then whoever is approved and gets their approved application to the BOE, you're in.

The Charter Commission does not seem happy with this but what they really don't like is the idea that there could be 25+ approved applications and, because the AG has said that all approved ones turned in "on-time" to the BOE are in, then any that don't make the first 8 spots will then roll over to the next year(s).

Even Dave Quall, a huge charter supporter, does not seem to think that a good idea.

I agree.

(And,since there are only going to be two authorizers - even Spokane gets approved - then those two have their work cut out for them. There could be a small number of applications or a huge number. Because of the lawsuit, it's a hard call to make as to which it will be.)

Charlie Mas said...

The law is so badly written that it would be easy to thwart it.

The WEA could sponsor 40 charters, all with essentially the same application, get them all approved and lock every other charter provider out of the state for five years. It wouldn't be hard.

They don't even have to actually open the schools.

Anonymous said...

In Oregon, and other states, the advent of charter schools has reduced private school attendance. So, charter schools draw primarily from private schools. It is hard to see how that could be a win for "privates" though. Most private schools need way more than the modest 6K or less that charters would provide. Read about it here.

Parents I know in Oregon and elsewhere LOVE access to charter schools, and have their kids in them. They are very satisfied. So, it isn't some sort of nimbyism.

The charter school bashing that occurs on this blog is an anathema to most people who support charters. It did win popular support didn't it? One the one hand, you have people complaining that it is experimenting on poor kids - yet charters elsewhere attract many non-poor families who are satisfied. You also have people who scream up and down against constant testing, yet they use "test scores" to happily bash charters. Which is it? Are test scores the be-all, or not? And if not, you can't use that to bash charters. We also see constant negative press against private school attendance, despite the fact that private school families remove the costs of educating their kids from the statewide system. Educating the fifteen thousand kids in Seattle's private schools in public schools would cost around 75 million the state doesn't magically have. But, if you want them back, charters would be an avenue for it.


parent

Anonymous said...

I've yet to see anyone bashing private schools on this blog, parent. Making a couple of comments about a secretive school run by a pseudo-religion is not bashing.

Charters are another story - and they create their own issues. They want public money, but don't want to be held accountable for that money. They claim they are better than public schools, but then we find they are cherry picking students. They claim 100% graduation rates, but then we find out the original cohort of 60 dropped down to 23 and that they refused to accept new students beyond 2nd grade. They profit off our tax dollars at the expense of kids.
Look at the fraudulent activities by the Imagine Charter chain:
http://mothercrusader.blogspot.com/2013/07/another-christie-crony-gets-charter-and.html
Read about how Eva Moskowitz runs public schools out of their own buildings in NYC.
http://dianeravitch.net/2013/07/11/eva-moskowitz-charter-pushes-out-harlem-special-ed-school/
Google and read about how the Great Hearts charters in AZ are making sure all their buddies get contracts to supply books, curriculum, etc.
Google and read about the Gulen charters and how they hire only Turkish employees and send our tax dollars to the Gulen sect.
Oh - and life is not so rosy down in those Oregon charter schools either.
https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/01/07-4
http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2013/01/oregon_charter_school_founders.html
You don't think that closing schools mid-year is an issue for kids and teachers?

CT

Melissa Westbrook said...

"It did win popular support didn't it?"

Parent, it did. But you need to balance that statement out.

Did it win in Seattle? No.
Did it win by a big margin? No, just 42K votes.
Had there been previous ballots? Yes, three and all went against it.

I find it interesting that NOW that it won, it's over. Well supporters didn't say that over 13+ years, so I'm not sure why opponents should fold and walk away.

"You also have people who scream up and down against constant testing, yet they use "test scores" to happily bash charters."

Most of us don't like this massive testing for ALL kids. But just as it is used as a measure in traditional public schools, it should be for charters. As well, they would be allowed to NOT use their test scores to measure their teachers.

seattle citizen said...

parent writes:
"...charter schools draw primarily from private schools. It is hard to see how that could be a win for "privates" though. Most private schools need way more than the modest 6K or less that charters would provide."
What?! Many private schools are available for 10k. 6k is 60 percent of the cost..."Non-profit" school, private or charter, doesn't care if it gets its money from the state of from parents. In fact, it would grow the business to get 6k from state for each student. Ka-ching!
parent writes:
"The charter school bashing that occurs on this blog is an anathema to most people who support charters."
Well, yeah! They're supporters and don't want their bubble burst.
parent writes:
"It did win popular support didn't it?"
So what? Doesn't make it right, fair, or even legal. 50.7% of the state's voters were somehow convinced that charters are a good idea makes the idea of charters unquestionable?
parent writes:
"One the one hand, you have people complaining that it is experimenting on poor kids - yet charters elsewhere attract many non-poor families who are satisfied."
These two statements relate how...? They could be experimenting yet people like them...Sooo....They're still experimenting, right? As to people liking them, see my comment about the majority vote.
parent writes:
"You also have people who scream up and down against constant testing, yet they use "test scores" to happily bash charters. Which is it?"
Over-reliance on mere test scores to determine all sorts of things, and are used, exclusively, to justify transformation into charters. The arguments for charters are made exclusively based on test scores. "Tests show THOSE schools are bad, so you need charters. We will use test scores to be accountable, and only test scores, to show you in the media that we are better." There is NO nuance.
So those against charters are left, in the popular understanding, with only test scores to fight with: "Charters say they're better based on test scores; those test scores do not show they are better."
parent writes:
"We also see constant negative press against private school attendance..."
Really? Where? Anyone who doesn't realize we live in a capitalistic society, and those with means will spend more money on their kids, is a fool. Of course it would be great if ALL kids went to publics - they would have that diverse experience. But (particularly in a wealthy town such as Seattle) many will opt out. I don't see a lot of people arguing against privates.
parent writes:
"...private school families remove the costs of educating their kids from the statewide system."
PART of the money: Levey money we all pay, kids or no kids, so I guess a parent of a private kid is helping with their taxes that way. But state funding is dependent on student counts: Fewer students equals less money, so the private kid isn't allowing the school or district to spend an extra 6k; tha t money simply isn't spent on education.
parent writes:
"Educating the fifteen thousand kids in Seattle's private schools in public schools would cost around 75 million the state doesn't magically have. But, if you want them back, charters would be an avenue for it."
This I just don't get: So if ALL private kids went to publics the state would have to spend more to educate them...which we are too broke to do? Then maybe ALL students should go to privates....?
But a charterized private school, in effect bringing back a private student into the public funding (but not to the benefit of the other, real, public schools, would save the state this 75 million?
If the state now has to pay that 6k to the private student in a charter, won't the state be out 75 million?
I'm not following your argument there at all.

Unknown said...

On the subject of churches, charters, and private schools.

St. Therese School in Seattle is one of two grantees of the "Seton Education Partners," which is of course, funded by the BMGF. It's mission is "to revive and expand opportunities for Catholic Education for disadvantaged children in America." Well that's fine.

It has two programs and two schools it is working on. The first is the "Phaedrus Initiative," which is to "provide educational technology to financially distressed schools to substantially reduce operating costs and increase the academic performance of its students. The program will increase class sizes while keeping the number of teachers consistent, thereby increasing the student to teacher ratio in a cost effective manner." This is the blended learning model. I have not heard of any success from this local venture at St. Therese except Lynne Varner's editorial about how it was so wonderful and extolling the virtues of its principal, who of course has now left.

Then we get to the natural endpoint of the this which is "The New School Initiative," which is to launch charter schools in former Catholic School buildings to offer academically strong, character-building educational options for the poor.

Scott Hamilton, co-founder of KIPP, is drawing a $225,000 salary to direct Seton Education Partners.

I see this organization as a Catholic alternative to what privatization has done to public schools in others states by systematically weakening failing schools and then turning them into charters.

Anonymous said...

Gee SC. You are thick.

So if ALL private kids went to publics the state would have to spend more to educate them...which we are too broke to do? Then maybe ALL students should go to privates....?

The state is absolutely too broke to educate the kids we already have in public schools. Do you read the news? Do you actually teach anything? And, the state would be even more broke if it had to addtionally educate students who are currently funding themselves.

You clearly don't understand levy funding. Yes we all pay it. But, we don't all benefit. Duh. If you're in privates... you pay the levees, and sales tax, and property tax... all to fund schools through a variety of funnels, but you don't benefit. That's not news. Maybe you're wondering what part of the levy money will go to charters. That hasn't been settled has it?

Yes. Lamenting private school is an often written about refrain on the blog. Oh poor SPS. If only we could re-attract private school students. Reality. If ALL the private school students "come back" to publics, YES indeed it will cost the state AT LEAST an extra $75 mil. And NO the state doesn't have that money. Yes it is broke. It is broke without that extra burden. When bigger bills hit the state's education fan, it simply reduces the PER STUDENT funding. There is NO tooth fairy. It can't print millions of dollars. (It might seem that removing money from another pot - like medicaid - would be free money. Guess what? That's not free either.

Right. The MORE students who stay private, or choose private, the better for everyone. They save us all money. There is no FREE money to educate students who are currently paying their own way. I suggest you say "Thank You" to your private schooled neighbors.

Private schools can NOT operate on $6K per year. The fact that maybe somewhere there's a private that charges $10K makes that point. They won't be getting that from the charter commission. No way, no day. And, they won't be allowed to simply charge tuition to make up the difference if they're a charter. I challenge you to find a private school with a $10K tuition. Even the Catholics are over $15K at the secondary level. There might be a couple elementaries with cheap tuitions - but not many. Go ahead. Look for them.

Either you believe in test scores or you don't. In your case, you seem not to. You don't want to be accountable for them. And you don't believe in them. An understandable position. But then, that shouldn't be the measure for determining the "quality" of charters either. You can't really hold both positions. Melissa seems to. She says it's a measure of all schools. If so, we absolutely should have teacher accountability for it. If it's a measure of quality, then teachers need to be 100% accountable for the scores of their students. BUT, if you don't believe in all that, then you also shouldn't hold test score measures for or against charter schools either. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

-parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

"But, we don't all benefit."

Well, only if you don't believe in the long-term benefits of public education and creating educated citizens.

No money? We'd have more and steady funding if our state had an income tax. You can't print money but yes, you can tax.

Parent, please tell me, show where I have EVER said "testing is the measure of all schools." Because that is completely foreign to me. And holding teachers 100% accountable for test scores? I KNOW I never said such a thing.

You are not reading what I wrote - all schools that are publicly funded should be treated the same. Charters do NOT have to use test scores to grade their teachers.

Also, Parent, again, no name calling. Watch yourself, please.

seattle citizen said...

So, parent ("thick" here) help me out: If the state is too broke to educate the students already in publics, maybe we should encourage more parent/guardians to choose private? Nice...
And where did I write that I don't understand levies? Didn't I write, "we all pay for levies...a parent of a private kid is helping with their taxes [levy assessments]"?
You're right about how a charterized private probably can't charge tuition to make up the difference, tho'...maybe...but my point was that it's bringing a kid back into the public sphere, where the state will have to spend that 6k...so in your view, wouldn't we want to keep those students out, not draw in more students with charters, because we're too broke?
Help me out. I'm thick. Not like you, who obviously understand everything (must be nice!)

Anonymous said...

Ok Melissa.

You wrote:
Most of us don't like this massive testing for ALL kids. But just as it is used as a measure in traditional public schools, it should be for charters.

Should testing be used or not? Seems like you're saying... "Yep, OK, measure away. I don't love it, but I don't mind so much. And also, Yep, it's a fine way to measure things, so let's measure these charter things too."

Then, repeatedly, you've written, "Boo hooo! Charters mostly have the same test scores as regulars, so they're FAILURES. (even though we hate calling regular public schools failures) We can't have charters, when they're the same FAILURES we've got already."

???

Well. Which is it? Are public schools failures due to test scores or not? Should we test ALL students or not? If tests matter, then OF COURSE, we need to hold the teachers responsible. If we do measure charters by test scores, then why not measure teachers too. If the measure is good, it's good.

Personally, I don't agree with the testing machine. I don't agree with it as measures for individuals or schools or teachers. As such, I don't measure charter success or viability by test scores. I measure it by whether families are satisfied. However. If we're going to hold students accountable, we MUST hold teachers accountable too.

SC, I simply note, from the data, private school participation declines when charter schools are available. Read the article. Some would like private school students "back", others not so much. The refrain used to be "we need them back". If that's the song, a way to do it is charters.


-parent

Anonymous said...

Parent - all she's saying is that charter schools need to be held to the same measure as public schools. If the quality of public schools is being measured by standardized testing, then charter schools should also have to submit to the same measure. She is not advocating for testing, nor trying to have it both ways - which I think you know but are being deliberately "thick".
I'd love to see the peer-reviewed research that shows students leave private schools for charters. Got a link?

Just think, soon WA State can have as much fun as Ohio...
http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2013/07/white_hat_managements_ohio_cha.html

CT