Only One WA State Charter School Open More Than a Couple of Weeks

That would be First Place Scholars except that it may not even be open at this point.

From the Times' coverage of the striking down of the charter law by the Washington State Supreme Court:

In Seattle, Summit Sierra, a new college-prep high school, opened Aug. 17 in the Chinatown International District with its inaugural freshman class of 130.

School also started Aug. 17 at SOAR Academy and Summit: Olympus in Tacoma. Excel Public Charter School in Kent began Aug. 20, and Destiny Charter Middle School in Tacoma opened Aug. 24. Rainier Prep’s first day of class was Tuesday.“We will absolutely be here ready for kids on Tuesday,” said Executive Director Malia Burns.

PRIDE Prep and Spokane International Academy in the Spokane area opened last month.

You'll see two things in that reporting.  No mention of FPS.  I don't know why but I suspect that may be because they haven't opened their doors for this year or may not be at all.  But not mentioning them is odd given they were the first charter school opened in Washington State.

The rest of them just opened.  I understand the concern and sadness for students, parents and staffs at these schools but it is not like they are long-time schools closing.  They can continue on, just without state dollars.  

Here's what the hyperventilating folks at Stand for Children Washington had to say:
We are deeply disappointed by the Washington State Supreme Court ruling public charter schools unconstitutional in our state. Whether or not the Court's decision has legal merit, there is no doubt that the result is morally wrong. It is an affront to our most vulnerable students. 

Whether or not there is legal merit?  It's a Supreme Court decision, for crying out loud.  As the Court said, it had nothing to do with the merit of charter schools themselves but to the legal issues of funding them with Washington state tax dollars.

Nearly 1200 Washington families have made the careful choice to send their children to high-quality public charter schools in pursuit of a better education for their children. Nine of the ten charter schools in the state have already started class for this school year. This ruling makes the future of those students uncertain.  

Actually, their future is secure in the knowledge that, no matter what, they will always have a place at a regular public school.  

The privilege of choosing a quality school for your child is one commonly exercised by those with means. This voter-approved law was designed to give that choice to the many families in Washington without alternatives.  

Having choice for schooling also means following the law.

It is for this reason that in nearly every part of the state with dense populations of people of color and high poverty rates, voters heavily favored public charter schools at the ballot in 2012.  

Heavily favored?  An out and out lie, the measure barely passed and failed in Seattle, about 60-40%.

The Washington State Charter Law was designed to ensure the highest quality public charter schools open in our state and has been recognized by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools as one of the best in the country.  

Again, disingenuous as the issue is not about quality of charter schools.  And that "quality law?"  It's illegal under the state constitution.  As well the "National Alliance for Public Charter Schools" is a Gates-funded mouthpiece org.

The court’s decision must not prevent the 1200 students already enrolled in public charter schools from attending their chosen school. We call on the court to allow existing public charter schools to serve their children this year.  

Furthermore, we call on the Governor and the legislature to take whatever action is necessary to enable Washington children to have high-quality charter schools, give families options, and fulfill the will of the people.  

The Governor and the Legislature MUST support the state constitution and not heart-tugging.  And "whatever action is necessary?"  For charter schools?  Why not McCleary?  Why not I-1351 for class size?


Anonymous said…
I sell things. The rep from Summit who called me without my request was selling me. "your child asked us to talk to you" no she didn't. She wouldn't consider anything other than GHS, not even Lakeside.

$ kills education. Go privatizize churches instead and good luck. I say close them all and make sure the kids get placed in their neighboorhood school. Or have Gates put his money where it should be and test the value of these schools by funding them. If not get the heck out of primary/secondary education.

Anonymous said…
Just because your social class of Gate$ sycophants come up with a slicker than snot soundbite 'public charter schools' doesn't mean they're PUBLIC. Oh yeah, BTW - did ya happen to notice that the WA. State Supreme Court told you your schools aren't PUBLIC, hence no PUBLIC money.
What is so Orwellian about Stand On Children and the whining from that right wing WPC - they're hiding behind the kids who whose parents were lied to!! Remember when the bodies started coming home from Iraq, and the Bush Administration's response to Iraq War critics was to hide their lies behind the troops with 'honor the troops!' !
Face it - it is a powerful tactic. Now we have people twisting themselves into all kinds of knots to acknowledge the ...sacrifice ...of the Charter swindlers. The stuff is


Anonymous said…
Calling on the governor and legislature to address the funding issues for 9 private charter schools? For crying out loud, McCleary anyone? How about calling on the governor and legislature to address the lack of adequate funding for the 2300+ real public schools and the 1.04 million students (per OSPI)enrolled in real public schools. I do feel badly for the families who chose a charter for their children, but don't blame the court for its decision to uphold the state constitution. Your school knew the decision was pending and opened anyway.

Longtime lurker

Anonymous said…
The public campaign to "save charters" has begun. The state charter lobby just posted an editorial about woe is us on Huffington Post. If you care about this topic, leave a comment at the end. Many readers are already calling bull puckey.

Anonymous said…
So here is a statement of questionable accuracy:

"Nearly 1200 Washington families have made the careful choice to send their children to high-quality public charter schools in pursuit of a better education for their children."

Since none of these schools have been open for more than a year, how does one know this claim to high quality is a truthful claim. What does high quality mean?

Families may be making a careful choice but is that choice based on data or salesmanship?

Inquiring Mind
Anonymous said…
Back to the sales rep that called me... She never said charter. It was the "new public school" called summit. I am sure parents were eventually told it was a charter school but I had to ask the question when she called and then explained not saying that up front seemed way to sneaky to me.
Anonymous said…
oops that was Robert above
I think approved charter schools should have been directed by the Charter Commission that they HAD to tell parents - in writing - about this lawsuit and the possible outcomes. The charter operators knew this could happen as they were opening these schools. They knew the decision was coming.

And yet, no one felt obliged to make sure parents knew about this issue and therefore, they would weigh the options. Not the Charter Commission, not the WA State Charter Schools Association nor the charter operators.

Again, this was the gamble that they took. And, they lost. No whining then about children and where they will go to school.
Greenwoody said…
The Seattle Times article has some sob stories of parents worried that their kid won't get to have the glorious charter school experience.

How do they know it'll be glorious? Because some charter school salesman told them it would be awesome!

In reality, these schools aren't so great. Just listen to people with some actual experience there: or here:

These well-meaning parents are buying into hype. As other states have shown us, charter schools routinely disappoint. There's no need to rush to save these fraudulent schools. We're all better off if they go away.
Anonymous said…
Melissa, how can we now help SPS teachers so they get what they've been asking for? How can we ensure that where these "charter children"going is well-run, transparent, and not corrupt district? Especially those SPED children who will be added to an already bulging caseloads to sped, psychologist, etc.

Yes, charters are big news but the struggle of SPS' teachers are, if not a bigger, news. How are things going? For families, when will they know if they need to change their plans.


Anonymous said…
We all have our own individual thresholds, but speaking for myself, I don't allow any discussion to continue, in person or online, in which anyone uses the term "public charter schools." I'm always like "Stop right there. Charter schools are NOT public, and if you say they are, you're repeating a lie." If the response is "Says who?" I can now say, with unimpeachable authority: "The Washington State Constitution and the Supreme Court of Washington."

The next response is usually: "But what about other states?" Not my concern. I live here, not there. Next comes: "But what about the dissent?" I have had this discussion with a Republican legislator already. Even the dissent stipulated that 1240 had not met the "common schools" test, and therefore, even if the dissent had its own internal logic regarding the funding, the funding was moot because even the dissent stipulated that charter schools are not public.

Don't let them say charters are public. Stop them dead in their tracks. They're liars, and we are not obliged to enable their falsehoods. They are guaranteed to bring this up in the Legislature, and that is where this battle needs to be fought. Until our PUBLIC schools are fully funded, and even afterward, not a nickel for these corporate grifters or their lackeys.

-- Ivan Weiss
Anonymous said…
Also, the dissent is a dissent. It's really inaccurate for the Times to say that the court "disagreed." The court held, by a 6-3 majority, that the statute violates the state constitution. End of story. The superior court will now figure out the mechanics of implementing the ruling. But the supreme court's decision is short, clear, and easy to understand. I can't imagine any "quick fix" the legislature could come up with. The decision is now law, and it rejects the whole premise behind the funding of charter schools with public funds. And although I sympathize with the 1200 students, I sympathize more with the kids across the state who are marching off to high school classrooms of 30+ kids. It's laughable that the legislature would go into special session to deal with this, whole ignoring both the class size initiative and McCleary.

Lawyer Mom
Watching said…
I feel for the families of 1200 students that were admitted into charter schools. I"ve not seen any reason to believe that there was a mandate to inform parents of impending Supreme Court decision and the implications it would have on their children's lives. Shameful.

Some claimed and pushed charter school openings based on the premise that I 1240 would pass Constitutional muster. They gambled with student's lives and lost. Now, they attempt to shift blame to the Supreme Court.
Anonymous said…

Any such mandate should have, and could have, come from the Charter Commission, which, as Melissa has documented, exercised more oversight and due diligence than a lot of us expected it to.

But no. No warnings, no admonitions, no disclaimers were forthcoming from the Commission, except as an afterthought. Charter providers were allowed to make their sales pitches to unwary parents as if the Supreme Court, not to mention the state Constitution, didn't even exist.

And why would that be? Because the language in 1240 stipulated that to be selected for the Charter Commission in the first place, its members had to be advocates for the charter school model. Think about that one for a second. Advocates for the charter school model, rather than public officials with a fiduciary duty to safeguard the public purse -- meaning your tax dollars and mine.

The charter backers gambled and lost. I feel for those 1200 students and their parents, but the Commission is to blame, and I cut none of them even the slightest slack. They knew this might be coming.

-- Ivan Weiss
Anonymous said…
The fix seems obvious to me. Students are enrolled at these schools but the state cannot give the schools money because the schools are not supervised by an elected school board authorized by the state. So assign the schools to operate in the geographically appropriate school districts. Give the money to the districts. Let the elected school boards decide what to do with the money: keep the schools open, close them and assign the students to other schools in the district, whatever the elected school board decides is most in keeping with responsible supervision of public education within the district. Let the legislature spend its time dealing with McCleary etc. Let all of these elected people try to do their jobs, and come election time the voters can let them know what we think of the results.

Anonymous said…
Lawyer Mom,
I like the way you think. I am a Special Education Paraeducator in a SPS Developmental Preschool. The District proposal is to remove Para's from the classroom setting, put them into a "pool" and place them as deemed necessary. Hahah! Really?

We have 12 children with IEP's (individualized education plans) in each session (a.m. and p.m.). We have the option to also have 2 children, as peer models in each session as well. The District wants to remove the option of peers, add 2 more students with IEP's, and remove the Paras? Last year in one session alone, we had a child with a walker that needs assistance getting on and off the bus, help getting in and out of the walker, assistance in the bathroom, and needs to be guarded when playing on the floor, as other students aren't especially careful of this child who is 4, but crawling. We had a child in a wheelchair who was non ambulatory, had a feeding tube, and was in diapers. Someone needs to be close to this student at all times to watch for seizures, and to protect the feeding tube from other students who may pull it out. There were 2 students with major behavioral issues, who were aggressive, explosive and unpredictable. We had 2 non verbal students with Down's Syndrome, who often times became targets of the aggressive students. The good majority of the 12 students also have Autism. Many of our students were in our classroom for social, behavioral, speech or motor skills help. We had students who needed one on one supervision at all times, though the district would not provide additional help.
Place assistants in Preschool classrooms "as necessary"? How can ONE teacher take care (take care being the operative words;teaching should be the priority) of all of these students AND find a TEACHABLE MOMENT?! Not to mention, lesson planning, snack time, bathroom breaks and or diaper changes (who will then supervise the others?), potty training, recess, facilitate social interaction AND get some educational learning in there somewhere too, while putting out "fires" all over the classroom, making sure no child "escapes", chasing around 2 students in particular, who may, at any time, explode into a tyrant, possibly injuring another student (again!)? Oh, and then there is all the time teachers spend writing and implementing IEP's, and holding the meetings, on their own time, during lunch breaks or after school hours.

The District told us we were "Asking for a lot of money. We don't know where that is going to come from". Where is the 40 million the district was given for Special Education? Why does Administration get hefty raises, and make the decisions for the classrooms, when they have never even stepped foot in one? Teachers work hard, and care about their students. We cry every year, when one of our Preschoolers moves on to Kindergarten. We have many of these students for 3 years.

I just wish the public would see and realize, THEIR CHILDREN are under the supervision and in the care of their teachers, during the school year, for more hours a day than they spend at home, and that those teachers are shaping the children of the future. Teachers are there to teach.....not babysit. If you take the Paraeducators out of the Preschool classroom.....that is exactly what it will UNSAFE, non learning, daycare environment! Can the district say "lawsuit"? Because I can guarantee, there will be injuries. Not to mention the fact, even in a daycare, the ratio of children to adults is 6/1, and they want to add 2 more students to the Special Education, Developmental Preschool classroom, making it 14 with IEP's. Good thinking SPS. I used to say I was proud to work for you. I voted to strike. I can't afford to not work, but I will find a way to survive. Teachers deserve a raise. Six years without even a COLA? Students deserve recess. Testing needs to be less, and the results, need not to be the way to base a teachers evaluation! I could go on and on.
Irene, the law is such that districts have to want to be authorizers (and therefore overseers) - it cannot be forced on them.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
repost said…
reposting for anon who reads the blog but doesn't know the rules:

The vitriol on here is simply amazing. As an avowed Social Democrat, I can tell you that I've seen how Seattle Public Schools are run, from the inside. Seattle appears to have some of the least transparent, most crony-corrupt management. Reading this blog, all I can see is that SPS is not accountable to it's "customers" (students and their parents). Who they are accountable to is the bottom line, and making sure the "right" people get promoted, while the ones who are fighting for the kids are getting ousted, demoted, and demonized in the press.

Just to be clear, if the vote was 60%-40% in any election, that would be considered a landslide.

Sure, some of the Charter Schools are going to stink. Guess what - most of the public schools under SPS seem to stink.

Or have I been misreading your blog all this time?

Anonymous said…

Seems relatively civil anon.

-What vitriol
Anonymous, you'd have to define "Social Democrat" for me.

This blog has detailed - for years - the issues at JSCEE. In fact, JSCEE IS the problem for Seattle Schools. BUT, it doesn't have to be that way and I hope, with new Board directors, that will finally change.

You misread my thread - the charter initiative passed by only 2% statewide but was trounced in Seattle 60% against and 40% for.

You are absolutely wrong that most schools in the district stink - they do not. The hordes of parents packing them in is one real sign of that.

Again, the issue here today for us is NOT whether charter schools are effective or ineffective - it's whether they are constitutional in Washington State. They are not, according to the Washington State Supreme Court.

Next time, please give yourself a name.
cmj said…
Melissa wrote "You are absolutely wrong that most schools in the district stink - they do not. The hordes of parents packing them in is one real sign of that."

I have to disagree with that. Other than the local public schools, parents have only three options: homeschooling, private schools, or moving to a neighborhood/district with better schools. Those are only options if you can afford them -- and most parents in SPS can't afford them. (Private schools also have admissions requirements, not many spaces available, and don't usually serve special education students.)

There are plenty of parents in Seattle who love their child's school and wouldn't send them anywhere else. However, for many parents, the local public schools are the only option that they have.
Yes, there are not many options for those who cannot afford to homeschool/private school but you don't get that kind of growth if people are unhappy. Seattle is one of the few urban districts that is growing in this country.
Anonymous said…
Two items on Charters:

#1.. Bad Summer for Charters and Vouchers .. June - Colorado court stops voucher funding .

#2.. Facebook is moving toward developing tools for schools with a three year agreement with Summit schools.

Inside Facebook's plan to build a better school

Not long after, Sego was touring Summit Denali, a public charter school in Sunnyvale, California. With him was Priscilla Chan, wife of the Facebook founder and his partner in philanthropy. They had been drawn to Summit Public Schools because of their striking success in preparing students for college: 99 percent of its graduating students have been accepted into at least one four-year college. And 55 percent of graduates go on to complete college, compared to a national average of 28 percent. The results are particularly compelling given the diverse makeup of the student population: only 20 percent of students are white, 48 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch, and 13 percent are English language learners.

NY Times : Facebook Takes a Step Into Education Software

Inquiring Mind
Anonymous said…
Melissa wrote:

"Seattle is one of the few urban districts that is growing in this country."

The Puget Sound area is experiencing great economic growth and population growth as it is the nation's current jobs hotspot.

Inquiring Mind
IM, yes, I do want to write about that Facebook deal and blended learning.
Anonymous said…
More on School Vouchers in Colorado from EdWeek September 3:

Colorado District Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Weigh In on School Voucher Program

I would be OK with revising the WA Constitution or the Charter School legislation to allow certain forms of Charter Schools after the State fully funds regular public schools. So where is the emphasis on that full funding?

Really "Charter School Advocates" call for a special session of the legislature to enable the funding of charter schools... Huhh? ... When the State is not yet fully funding regular public schools.

What will Sundquist and Gates Foundation have to say "beyond we did not expect this".

Inquiring Mind
Anonymous said…
cmj, have you looked at the option schools in Seattle? There really is a lot of choice in the district at all grade levels. Parents have true public school choices if they choose to pursue them.

David said…
The option schools are great but are often maxed out with waiting lists and are difficult to access for many families now that they've done away with transportation unless you're already in their zones.
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Unknown said…
Charter schools are only deemed public by their funding, but private in their legislation. Instead of a frustration, this should be a relief to tax payers. Less money spent towards paperwork, and more towards individualized education. The state's decision to fund charter schools is an effort to bring relief to public schools and options for parents with children who fall through the cracks. And we disagree with this... Because we don't want students in overcrowded districts with overrun teachers to have options? Because funding is the only issue that public schools face? Throwing more money into a failing system will only make the ship sink faster. Charter schools are an effort to modify the system, which I think we can all agree is needed. Ideally all schools will have smaller class sizes and individualized education. In the mean time, charter schools have open enrollment that allow access to an effort at high quality education regardless of neighborhood, race, income, and opinion. Because let's be honest, streamlining such a vast subject such as education to be the same for all does little for anyone diverse. As education stands now, the better neighborhoods give a better education. I for one am excited that my son, who is a very high functioning autistic, will have the opportunity to attend a school where he won't be overwhelmed by the sheer number of children that go to school in our low income neighborhood. Is the charter system perfect? No. But it's a step in the right direction.

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