Yes, Next Legislative Session is about McCleary (and apparently, about charter schools)


I queried OSPI about what might happen.  Here's what the immediate issues are:

The ruling from the Court removes footnote 10 on page 11, the footnote that caused the “glitch” issue; namely, that funding for other categorical programs (Running Start, the Schools for the Blind/Deaf) might be in danger. Other than that, the Court simply said it was rejecting the motion for reconsideration of its original opinion, meaning that charter schools – at least in their current incarnation – will no longer be able to operate in Washington state. So yes, they will be gone.

The issue we’re trying to determine is when. We’re not sure if this order is effective today or not. The Court has a meeting on the books for December 14, possibly about the mandate. The Attorney General’s Office and OSPI are trying to find out from the Court if that means that money for November can be paid to the schools or not. We should have clarification on that by next week.

Regarding Spokane, the Court struck down the entire initiative – that includes authorizing agents, even if such an agent is controlled by an elected board. My understanding is that Spokane is working to bring the schools into the district. 

First, it is fascinating that no one seems to know what the Court decision truly means in terms of logistics.

Second, I believe the law is dead until the Legislature acts.  That means no funding for these schools until it does act.  So I believe that no matter when the spigot gets cut off (end of next week or December 14th), that private funders are going to have to step in to save these schools until the Legislature does something.

Now naturally the Legislature could call a Special Session just for the charter school issue but really, how would that look?  Can't get McCleary done for the 1M+ students in real public schools but they can call a Special Session for 1200 students in charter schools that have mostly been open half a year?

This is a tough time of year for big decisions, given that we all know that the holidays tend to make everything work-related slow down.

Stay tuned.

end of update

Great op-ed by Senator Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island in the Seattle Times talking about our broken state education system.

At first, I was worried.  I thought it would be another editorial about lazy, overpaid teachers and the need for "innovation" all while our schools aren't even funded with the basics to function properly.
 Basics like:
- substitutes
- buildings
- salaries that will attract and keep teachers
- Special education services

And a school administrator from Selkirk spoke about the dire teacher shortage in rural areas, saying he’s seen a deer, an elk and a bear on the campus this year, but not a fourth-grade teacher.

Common to every community, from Seattle to Selah, is frustration and anger from parents and taxpayers who feel like the state isn’t taking its paramount duty seriously, and that their children miss out as a result. As a legislator and parent of two children attending public school, I share that frustration. 

From every corner of our state, we heard from people who expect us to listen and to work as one united team, irrespective of our political parties, to fund our schools.

I’m listening and ready to act. I know many of my colleagues are too.

But hey, it's all good according to ed reformer, Rep. Chad Magendanz.  From the House Republican legislative page:

I've been privileged to attend some of the seven statewide listening tours on education funding, held in September and October by the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee.  

(I'll note that he was chatting it up with another legislator so loudly during my testimony that I had to stop and ask if I was interrupting.  Very poor form.  And, no apology.)

He has this great, long timetable that he seems to think is just fine and dandy.
  • 2016 session: Commit to a timeline of fully funding education. Fund and Timelineimplement an interim research and data collection project to get a better idea of our spending commitment.
  • 2016 interim:  Research the scope of statewide spending commitments; determine from an independent consultant the amount of additional pay in each of the 295 school districts that can be correctly identified as basic education supplementation (including supplemental contracts permitted under current and past bargaining agreements) and recommend adjustments for local labor markets.
  • 2017 session: Pass enacting legislation for state and local levy reforms; introduce new salary allocation model for educational staff.
  • Jan. 1, 2018: Transition to the new salary allocation model.
Let's remember the state Supreme Court set 2018 as the deadline to have our work on McCleary completed, and with this proposed timeline, we are on target to meet that date. The reason the court imposed sanctions is because the Legislature failed to provide a plan acceptable to the court that shows how it completes the McCleary requirements. The 2016 session will give us the opportunity to better determine the scope of our spending commitments and provide a workable plan that clearly shows to the court the timeline of how we will carry it out. Once an acceptable plan is in place, the court would likely lift the sanctions.

But Representative, shouldn't the work have been done so that the Court didn't have apply sanctions?  And, excuse me, but you and the other legislators, who work dutifully, session after session, don't know" the scope of our spending commitments?"  I rarely do this but I'll call bullshit on that one.

He wrote this the day before the Court made its ruling on the reconsideration and brought charters schools into this discussion.  Clearly, charters will be part of this upcoming session. 

I attended the 43rd Dems meeting last week where all the legislators from the 43rd were in attendance - Speaker Frank Chopp, Senator Jamie Pedersen and Rep. Brady Walkinshaw.

Senator Pedersen could not have been more frustrated and disappointed in how the progress is going to fulfill McCleary.  And, he thinks this session will be more of the same.

I asked them about charter schools and the possibilities like perhaps tying funding for McCleary to voting for money for charter schools.  Clearly, anything is possible.  Pedersen said he would probably vote for a charter fix if it were attached to getting money for McCleary.

I also spoke with Rep Chris Reykdal (who is running for state superintendent) who is also worried but trying to take a calm, pragmatic view of what may coming.

So here's what could come:
-Somehow - "fix" the current law.  But how? The funding for the Charter Commission to oversee the seven schools they approved and for Spokane able to oversee their two schools will probably end in early December. (I hear Spokane wants to try to absorb their charters into their school district.)

I asked OSPI a couple of questions and it's clear that they aren't even sure what will happen immediately.  Will these charters get funded to the end of November?  Will the Legislature call a special session to fund them?  And where would that money come from?

But how would it look to rush to a Special Session over charter school funding for 1200 students but there seems to be little urgency to fund McCleary for 1M students?

- Amendment to constitution - no one I've talked to thinks that will happen (but I'm hearing a drumbeat for it; I cannot believe voters would truly do this.)

- Making the charters something else like "schools of innovation" and funding them out of the General Fund.  Okay, what department/program will lose their dollars to charters?  Then, who oversees them? OSPI? SBOE?  (The latter won't comment on a hypothetical situation.)

- Create a new charter school bill.  They could and probably could pass it.  But that would mean that they either throw out the existing charter schools OR write the bill so that it would align with how those charters came into being.  I think that a big lift.  

State Superintendent Dorn put out a statement on the Court's ruling

Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn Friday expressed strong support for a motion filed by the plaintiffs in the McCleary v. Washington case Wednesday, and said his office expects to file papers with the Supreme Court in support of the motion.

“The plaintiffs are right,” said Dorn. “The sanctions the Court imposed in August did not get the State’s attention. It is time to force the Governor and Legislature to act.”

“The constitution is clear, and the Court has been clear,” said Dorn. “What is also clear is the fact that Governor Inslee and the legislature are not taking their constitutional obligations seriously. It’s time to compel action.”

Lastly, there are also - of course - some politics in play here.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued a fairly terse statement after the final ruling and indicated that he had gotten his point across with the removal of the footnote and that it was now up to the Legislature.  There are indications that Ferguson wants to make a run for Governor in four years so he may thinking very carefully about his thoughts on charter schools.

Likewise, Rep Reuven Carlyle would like to be appointed to Jeanne Kohl-Welles senate position.  (She won a seat on the King County council.)  Carlyle cares a lot (and knows a great deal about) public education. He has kids in Seattle Schools. He knows Seattle voted against charters schools.  That leaves him in a hard place.
“Regardless of one’s opinion about charter schools, the original opinion endangered important programs such as Running Start, tribal compact schools, and vocational education.
“Therefore, I asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision, and today the court agreed with me on a crucial point.
“The court acknowledged that its opinion was broader than necessary.  Specifically, by removing footnote 10, the court eliminated a significant threat to programs like Running Start, tribal compact schools, and vocational education.
“While the court declined to revisit its holding regarding charter school funding, it is now up to the Legislature to decide whether to adopt a different mechanism to fund charter schools.”
- See more at:
“Regardless of one’s opinion about charter schools, the original opinion endangered important programs such as Running Start, tribal compact schools, and vocational education.
“Therefore, I asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision, and today the court agreed with me on a crucial point.
“The court acknowledged that its opinion was broader than necessary.  Specifically, by removing footnote 10, the court eliminated a significant threat to programs like Running Start, tribal compact schools, and vocational education.
“While the court declined to revisit its holding regarding charter school funding, it is now up to the Legislature to decide whether to adopt a different mechanism to fund charter schools.”
- See more at:


Anonymous said…
Carlyle is not fond of Seattle Public Schools and was very quiet on the topic of charters and privatization at the last meeting I attended (in contrast to Tarleton, who was very much opposed). He has been supportive of charters in the past, and I do not trust him one bit. He is an ed reformer, supported McGuire in the most recent election and other DFER types in previous ones. Most of the legislators I have talked to are unaware of the rampant fraud going on in places like Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Arizona, and Utah. They have very little understanding about how charters slowly bleed districts of funding, about how segregated charters are, or how charters spend taxpayer money (highly paid admins, advertising, free gifts, exorbitant rental deals or property purchases) and focus mainly on "choice"' without the recognition that the school is really the one doing the choosing. They have no idea what to do when a charter closes - where do the kids go? Who takes control of the property and other items purchased with public funds? Some WA legislators arrogantly think that WA's charter legislation is so good it will cover all that. It doesn't. Too much gray, too many areas where a crafty charter management company could easily get away with fraud and face no legal action. WA could end up losing a ton of money to charter fraud, and districts will be the ones to pay, not the legislators. I would also venture to guess that some WA legislators are hoping for this so they can get a piece of the pie. There are enough Utah and AZ legislators (and those from many other states as well) profiting from charter schools - I'm sure some of the WA ones are looking forward to that.

Anonymous said…
Ohio, Florida, and Utah have many charter schools run by for-profit companies which seems a bad idea. But CT says "There are enough Utah and AZ legislators (and those from many other states as well) profiting from charter schools".

Could you name some names please?

Anonymous said…
I would also doubt that Carlyle is a fan. I believe he has a child at Queen Anne Elementary, which just canned its popular principal. SPS really blows it when it comes to staff changes. In this case, they alienated an entire group of parents and one very influential legislator. Watch for Carlyle to either support charters or mayoral control. He is probably fed up.

S parent
But Carlyle is in a sensitive political position in wanting to be appointed to an empty senate seat. That will be interesting maneuvering.
Anonymous said…
Melissa, are you really suggesting that Reuven might not be appointed to the 36th Senate seat? That is a done deal. There are already serious candidates lining up in the 36th to replace him in the House.

There will be no maneuvering on his part. All he had to do was say he wanted it. Frankly, I'm surprised he wanted it. He's going to leave an influential Finance chairmanship to sit on the back bench in the Senate. He'll be on Ways and Means but he won't even be the Ranking member. That belongs to Jim Hargrove and he ain't giving that up. Also, Rosemary McAuliffe is the Ranking member on education and he drives education policy in Senate D caucus.

--- aka
Anonymous said…
I meant, "...she drives education policy in the Senate D caucus."

--- aka
Watching said…
Forcing the resignation of the Queen Anne elementary principal was a bad move- politically. Both Carlyle and Burgess live in that district and both have ties to Queen Anne elementary. Carlyle attended a rally with large amounts of parents, and Burgess was supportive of Creative Approach Schools. Really not a good idea to anger the former Chair of House Finance Committee....what can I say?

Carlyle absolutely supports the corporate model of ed. reform. He is smart enough not to lead the charge and I fully expect him to be appointed.
No, I'm not suggesting Carlyle's appointment isn't a done deal. But he will be in the spotlight on this issue - given his new position, his support of public schools and yet his silence on charters - and he may have to consider what it will mean for the future. Seattle did vote no on charters.
Anonymous said…
C'mon, Melissa. Reuven could have that seat for life if he wanted it. He could open a charter school himself and he'd get to keep that seat. Are you suggesting that WEA/SEIU/Fuse would run a candidate to his left in that district? Certainly no Republican is going to win there.

I think he's pretty darn safe, charters or no charters.

--- aka
Anonymous said…
Safe he is indeed, but that doesn't mean he would want to put up with a steady drumbeat of criticism over his education positions, either. That's the job of his anti-reform constituents, to keep after him, with no letup, over his preferences in education policy.

Every time he sees me, he knows I'm going to give him an earful about it, and I'm not his constituent and never have been, even though I lived in the 36th 40-some years ago.

And I wouldn't be lumping FUSE in there with WEA or SEIU, either. FUSE is funded by Nick Hanauer, among others, and has been notoriously gutless on education issues for years now. It wouldn't endorse a NO vote on 1240, and it had to be browbeaten into giving Jill Geary a dual endorsement, after initially giving McGuire a sole. Correct me if this is wrong, but I think the same applied to the Harris-McLaren race. Given the outcomes of those two elections, FUSE is looking somewhat less reformie for having dual-endorsed, but not looking so hot for having endorsed McGuire and McLaren at all.

So I doubt very much that FUSE would support anybody to the "left" of Carlyle on education issues. They will be his biggest cheerleaders, come hell or high water, because their funders are, first and foremost, defenders of bourgeois privilege, "liberal" or "progressive" though they might appear on the surface.

Any pressure on Carlyle over K-12 will have to come from the parent and teacher communities, and woe to them if they don't exercise it with vigilance.

-- Ivan Weiss
AKA,you seem to want to challenge me on something I haven't said. I did not say Carlyle will not get that senate seat (but we disagree on the '"for life" thing.) I didn't say anything or even suggest anything remotely like what you are saying. I have to wonder why you are going at it this hard.

Of course, Carlyle (and others) may get blackmailed into charter accommodations in order to get McCleary done. Or, that could be quite the excuse of a legislator DID want charters but didn't want to say it out loud, "Oh, I had to vote that way for McCleary."
Greenwoody said…
Some legislators will indeed argue that we have to accept charter schools as a price of getting McCleary fully funded.

But that's like drilling another hole in a leaky boat.

Charter schools take money from existing public schools. That's their entire purpose - to divert the massive K-12 funding streams into private pockets.

So even if legislation allowing charter schools was to be linked to fully funding McCleary (though note what Magendanz said - Republicans are not actually interested in fully funding McCleary) we would be exchanging one problem for another. That would be a bad deal for K-12 schools because we'd be setting ourselves up for yet another funding shortage when charter schools draw off that additional McCleary money for themselves. And your neighborhood school would go right back to not having enough money.
Greenwoody and that's one of two major messages that parents MUST send to the Legislature.

The other is McCleary is job #1 and don't hold it hostage for anything. Including charter schools.
Anonymous said…
I have voted for Bob Ferguson every single time. I will not be happy if he throws his support to charter schools and will consider voting for someone else.


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