Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Seattle Ed News Roundup

Well, look what happens when you step away for a couple of days - apparently a lot.

First up, the Muni League released its ratings of School Board candidates.  Only Suzanne Dale Estey (in Michael DeBell's district) got "outstanding."  In the same race the two candidates, Sue Peters and Dean McCoglan, received a "very good" which is the next level below "outstanding."  

In Kay Smith-Blum race, Stefan Blanford received "very good", LaCrese Green received "not qualified" and Ulu Thomas was not interviewed.

I was unable to access the Muni League's second page of ratings to check Director Betty Patu's rating.

Charlie and I just about finished our interviews and will write up a thread before you receive your primary ballots.  The early assessment is that (clearly) Patu will retain her seat, Blanford will face off against Green but is really the only candidate in that race.  So the real race is in DeBell's district and which two candidates will clear the primary to go on to the general.

Second, after all the shoutin' is done, there's just one district in the entire state who is going to apply to be a charter school authorizer.  And that is Spokane which has said early and often how much they want to see charters.

So this means for any other area of the state, including Seattle, any non-profit that wants to try to open a charter will have to go thru the Charter Commission.  What a tsunami of applications they are likely to see (or, will they - if only Spokane stepped up, maybe charter operators may see that as a tentative interest on charters or complete lack of interest).

I had mentioned previously that 12 districts had filed letters of interest and three had dropped out (curiously, not the Times, nor the Washington Policy Center nor LEV acknowledged that had happened).  They just kept beating the drum of how great it was that so many had filed the letter.

It looks like those districts, big and small, stepped back and saw the heavy lift.  And even with the promise of help from the new Washington charter group (and no doubt, the Gates Foundation), these districts said no thanks to all the work to become an authorizer and all the work to be an authorizer.

And last, but certainly not least, the long-awaiting filing of the lawsuit against 1240 by the League of Women Voters, El Centro de la Raza, Washington State School Administrators, the WEA, UW professor Wayne Au and several others.  Their seven-point reasoning against the law (from the WEA website):

It violates the state’s constitutional “paramount duty” to provide for the education of children within its borders. In its 2012 McCleary decision, the Washington Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to fully fund basic educational programs by 2018. The Charter School Act interferes with the state’s progress toward compliance by diverting already insufficient resources away from public school districts.   
  • It unconstitutionally diverts funding that is restricted to use for public common schools to private charter schools that are not subject to local voter control.
  • It violates the “general and uniform” requirement in the constitution because charter schools are not subject to most of the laws and regulations applicable to public school districts, including many of the common school provisions defining the elements of a basic education. 
  • It amends existing state law in a manner not permitted by the constitution.
  • It violates the constitutional requirement that the superintendent of public instruction “have supervision over all matters pertaining to public schools.”
  • Its language relating to the conversion of a public school into a charter school is unconstitutionally vague.
  • It violates the constitution because it mandates the use of local voter-approved levy funds for a purpose other than the purpose for which the voters approved the levies. 
I believe that these are solid grounds that could either limit the charter law or throw it out.  I am willing to lend my aid to this effort and will let the group know this.  I suspect that this case will be tried in the court of public opinion as well as the legal system.  I can already see the pushback from charter supporters so this should be interesting. 


Po3 said...

I like both "very good" candidates for DeBells seat. Esty is a policy wonk who would be better suited for a city council job. McColgan has a lot of volunteer experience, and I am not sure how that translates to school board. Peters is ready to take on math and I like that a lot, especially the middle school curriculum!

Looking forward to reading their interviews.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Po3, are you talking about education work? Because McColgan has been in policy work via his time as an elected city council person and as mayor of Federal Way.