Monday, July 15, 2013

Washington State Agencies Ask for Feedback on Charter School Regulations

Both the Board of Education and the Charter Commission are soliciting feedback for draft rules for charter schools. From the BOE:

At its July 10-11 meeting, the State Board of Education approved for public hearing draft rules pertaining to annual reports by charter school authorizers under RCW 28A.710.100(4) - proposed WAC 180-19-210.

We are seeking public comment on these draft rules. We encourage you to review the proposed rules and provide feedback by contacting us atsbe@k12.wa.us.

Your input will be valuable to the board as they consider these rules for adoption. The Board intends to hold a public hearing on the proposed rules at its September meeting in Yakima, Washington. Formal notification of the date, time and location of the public hearing will follow through the process prescribed in RCW 34.05.

Here's what I suggested to the BOE (in brief):

- list ALL employees - consultants and regular personnel - who give input to decisionmakers in authorizing districts on charter school decisions.

- that the annual report from each authorizer also delineate the number of "new" charter schools and conversion charter schools. The BOE is charged with deciding if the law is working and knowing those numbers seems to be a data point they would want to have.

- that the annual report has every charter delineate the numbers/types of Special Ed students, ELL students, highly capable students and homeless students. Again, these are important data points in assessing the charter law.

The Charter Commission will be having a public hearing in our region on Tuesday, July 30th from 10:15 am to 11:15 am at Tacoma Public Schools, Central Adm Building, 601 South 8th Street, to hear input on its proposed rules.  (Note: this is part of their regularly scheduled meeting on that day.  The meeting runs from 10 am to 5 pm.)

Written comments can also be submitted to RaShelle Davis by mail or email before Monday August 19, 2013 to the following addresses:
PO Box 43113, Olympia, WA 98504 or rashelle.davis@gov.wa.gov

Proposed rules from the Charter Commission.  This is a full 30 pages and does address some concerns about the law but there are still others.

What is in the notice of intent? I thought the Commission wanted charter applicants to state if they are a new or conversion charter.

Application submission - does not include conversion charters, why not?

Public forum - does include an opportunity for the public to ask questions?

Part II, Criteria used for application evaluation - 2J
The law does not state that a conversion takeover has to be an "underperforming school." A charter applicant can file to take over any existing school, failing or not, so perhaps the question should also include asking, "why are you considering taking over this school community?"

3F - It should be made clearer when and how each conversion charter notifies the school district but also, that notification is made to the school community. Just telling the district does not mean that information will be shared with the school community who deserves to know this is a possibility.

Glad to see background checks for members of the governing board members (this was NOT in 1240)

To note, there are only two places where parents are mentioned. It would seem important for any charter plan to include how parents will be served at the school - grade notification, parent organization, etc.


Charlie Mas said...

I would like to see the application include something about what new thing the charter is offering the community and evidence that there is demand for that new thing.

The rationale for charters is innovation and choice, but a charter school that operates just like a traditional public school isn't really delivering any innovation or choice, so what's the point of it?

Melissa Westbrook said...

The rules don't say anything about some offering being "new" but the applicants do have to show that the community is interested. How that is, I don't know.

venue in los angeles said...
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Anonymous said...

Looking at issues that other states have with their charter schools: I think a high level of detail on student attrition should be required. Maybe a direct statement about the reason for departure from the student/parent should be included for EACH departing student. I'm thinking about places like KIPP, where students aren't kicked out, they're just encouraged to leave.

And maybe something about charters not sending kids away the day AFTER the monthly student count?


Charlie Mas said...

In her ghastly guest column in the Seattle Times Liv Finne wrote that choice was the whole point of the charter school initiative. So they need to prove that they are offering a choice, right?