Senate Passes Charter School Bill

Update: one reader asked about the costs and here's the link to the fiscal note.  Quite eye-opening and fyi, according to the note there are just about 840 students, not 1,000.  That's what happens when charters are forced to tell the truth instead of throw numbers around in ads.

The bill requires OSPI to reimburse charter schools for any loss in state funding directly resulting from the state Supreme Court decision. 
Also, Senator Ann Rivers from R-La Center had this to say about McCleary in The Columbian:
“I’m sick to death of talking about McCleary, and a lot of other people are, too,” Rivers said of the court case that resulted in an order that lawmakers must fulfill their paramount duty under the state constitution and adequately fund the state’s public schools. But tackling more specifics in the 60-day legislative session, Rivers said, “wasn’t in the cards.”
This is the same Senator Rivers who left work group Town Halls right on the ending time, despite large numbers of people who had been patiently waiting in line to give their point of view.
But the good Senator has the time to vote for this charter bill.  
Once again, priorities, kids.  

end of update

A bit of a yawn as we all knew this would happen and the only question was which charter bill.  They passed Senator Litzow's bill, SB 6194.

The House is not going to see the same outcome (or I doubt it.)  Even if they did pass one, again, I doubt Governor Inslee would sign it.

Why?  Because the darn thing is STILL not constitutional.  I don't know if charter supporters don't listen or don't have good lawyers but fixing the funding was not the entire issue.  There is still no real elected oversight.

Sure, they are trying to muscle the State Superintendent on the Charter Commission but Dorn told me he didn't think any superintendent would have time for that and he would send a substitute.  If that happens, there goes your elected oversight (at least on the Commission.)

If this bill becomes law, I'm fairly sure it will get hauled back into court and it starts all over.

I have to wonder about why the Supreme Court is getting dissed on all sides by the legislature with lawmakers seemingly ignoring the sanctions on the lack of work on McCleary AND seeing how fast legislators ran to pass a charter bill that isn't constitutional.

The rollcall:

Yeas: 27 Nays: 20 Absent: 0 Excused: 2
Voting Yea: Senator Angel, Bailey, Baumgartner, Becker, Benton, Braun, Brown, Dammeier, Dansel, Ericksen, Fain, Hewitt, Hill, Hobbs, Honeyford, King, Litzow, Miloscia, Mullet, O'Ban, Padden, Parlette, Rivers, Roach, Schoesler, Sheldon, Warnick Voting Nay: Senator Billig, Carlyle, Chase, Cleveland, Conway, Darneille, Fraser, Frockt, Hargrove, Hasegawa, Jayapal, Keiser, Liias, McAuliffe, McCoy, Nelson, Pearson, Pedersen, Rolfes, Takko Absent:  Excused: Senator Habib, Ranker

Interestingly the two senators, Billig and Baumgartner who wrote the other charter bill, voted in opposite directions.

From a transcript of testimony given before the vote:

Senator Mullet (D-Issaquah) testified in support of the bill:
“...After the supreme court ruling I visited Summit Sierra Charter School. For the first time in my life, I visited a charter school. I took my children along. I was greeted by school kids chanting “Save our School.” You can imagine my shock seeing kids this in love with their school. It quickly became apparent that they viewed the elected officials working to close down charter schools as the equivalent of the First Order in the new Star Wars movie, “The Force Awakens.” As an elected official, I am supposed to be Hans Solo or Luke Skywalker, not Darth Vader. What the supreme court did that day was evil and unfair. My daughter made an interesting comment, saying “Dad, if the parents and the students both love the schools, why does somebody vote to close the school?...”
Comparing the Court to Darth Vadar and calling the Court's ruling "evil and unfair" does not illuminate or elevate the discussion.  


Charlie Mas said…
It's good to know that our elected legislators are basing their decisions on good, sound policy.
Anonymous said…
Why didn't Mullet take the time to explain to his daughter how the concept of checks and balances works? Or the concept of elected officials having oversight. Seems like it was a missed opportunity for a civics lesson. Second, if the school is so well loved by their 85 students why don't they use some of the millions of dollars they have been given to keep it open as a free private school? Third, I wonder what the scene will look like (should these corporate boondoggles happen here) when they start getting closed down for fraud, incompetence or poorly thought out curricula. How does he explain these types of questions to his daughter? (

Lastly, if getting fewer than 100 students to start chanting is enough to create education policy where can we sign up to have Senator Mullet come visit some actual public school classrooms? Thanks to the failure of the legislature to fully fund education we could have high school classes of 38 chanting "give us desks".

--Civics Lesson
NO 1240 said…
Senator Frocket/ Carlyle offered the following amendment:

Beginning in 2019, prohibits new charter schools from being established until the Supreme Court no longer retains jurisdiction in the McCleary case. Does not impact charter schools that are in existence prior to 2019.

The amendment was not adopted.

Other Democrats offered this amendment:

Provides legislative intent recognizing the importance
of providing educational stability to the students who had
previously attended charter schools prior to the Supreme Court’s
ruling and also recognizing that the state has an equally important
obligation to the over one million students in our public schools
who continue to wait for the state to provide them with the
educational opportunities guaranteed by the state constitution.

The amendment was not adopted.

Unknown said…
I also enjoyed the beginning of Mullet's speech, where he talked about how he always secretly supported Charters. He's clearly trying to position himself ahead of Magendanz.
Mullet should talk to parents in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Newark, Boston, and more, where charter schools have robbed public schools of precious funds, led to the resegregation of public education, and even produced today a federal civil rights lawsuit against a charter chain.

He needs to talk to those people and read those reports and lawsuits and then come back and tell us with a straight face that the Supreme Court are the villains here, rather than the hedge funds and billionaires seeking to profit off our our children.

(note on that lawsuit: )
NO 1240 said…
It is interesting to note that many charter school administrators have signed ALE agreements with the Mary Walker School District. Green Dot, SOAR, Excel and others signed an ALE Agreement.

It is also interesting to note that Seattle, Tacoma, Kent and Highline have NOT signed Inter-Local Agreements with the Mary Walker School District.
WS mom said…
Is there an actual monetary amount listed somewhere with this bill other than just funded out of the opportunity pathways fund?

WS Mom, here's a link to the fiscal note and boy, am I glad you asked. I found this in there:

"The bill requires OSPI to reimburse charter schools for any loss in state funding directly resulting from the state Supreme Court decision."

"State expenditures in the bill are generated by the restoration of funds to charter schools, and to the reimbursement of funds to charter schools who continued to operate through the state funded school system beyond December 1, 2015. Those charter schools which either applied to become home school providers, or filed applications to become private schools would not generate the reimbursement as they would be accepting state dollars for services rendered outside the state funded educational system."

That last paragraph somewhat contradicts the first one. I would think Summit,as a home school provider, and First Place, which went back to being private, would get only a portion of these funds.


As well,

"Eliminates the Washington State Charter School Commission from the governance structure for the state’s public common school system."

But the CC will reside within OSPI for "administrative purposes."

Oh and that "1300 charter students?" This fiscal note says there would be reimbursement for just 841.51 students.
Anonymous said…
My kids attended two Seattle Public Schools during their K-12 years. Had either of those schools been threatened with closure, there would have been a chorus of parents and students fighting to keep their schools open. It would have been organic, and especially at the high school level, student driven. This highly orchestrated event by the charter schools, bringing kids to Olympia, flooding the airways with emotional ads highlighting kids, and the state senator going to Summit with his own children and being amazed that the kids (all 85 of them) like their school (as though every public school is some kind of prison) is just marketing, very expensive marketing. Bought and paid for by all the usual suspects. They seem to have a lot at stake.

"They seem to have a lot at stake."

That is an understatement and why the fight has to go on. Luckily,these charter supporters can't seem to write a constitutional bill.
From Reuven Carlyle's Facebook page:

"Today the Senate voted on a plan to use lottery dollars for charter schools rather than the general fund in an effort to address Supreme Court objections.

David Frockt and I introduced an amendment to allow current schools to continue but allow no further growth beyond 2019 unless the Legislature has met its paramount duty of fully funding public education.

Andy Billig introduced a well crafted amendment to provide local school districts a general oversight role of future charters.

Pramila Jayapal introduced an amendment to clarify the intent of the Legislature to resolve McCleary.

Our amendments were defeated.

Because there was no willingness to negotiate, compromise or modify the majority plan in any way, I voted no on final passage. My district voted nearly 70% against I-1240. I hope we can craft a responsible resolution to both McCleary and charters and believe we should make meaningful progress to help all students and families equally."

Thank you,Senator Carlyle.
WS mom said…
Thanks Melissa for that fiscal note. All I can do is shake my head at it.
NO 1240 said…


Do you have the link to the number of students in charter schools?

"Oh and that "1300 charter students?" This fiscal note says there would be reimbursement for just 841.51 students. "
Go to the bill link and at the bottom of the page is the fiscal note.
Anonymous said…
Melissa wrote "according to the note there are just about 840 students, not 1,000. That's what happens when charters are forced to tell the truth instead of throw numbers around"

Step #3 (page 9) of the fiscal note, where there are 841.51 students, appears to be for the six schools going through Mary Walker district for ALE funding. It doesn't include the other three former charter schools.

Teacher Greg said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teacher Greg said…
You can go here ( ) to get the numbers all charters were reporting as of the November 1st headcount. They didn't report the December count, but I imagine they are all lower, and now that the semester is approaching I imagine more are going to bail especially given the uncertainty of what their status is.
First Place Scholars is no more a charter school (and well, none of them are legally.)
0taqueen said…
Darth Vader is long dead in "The Force Awakens." Kind of like the conscience of these legislators.
Emerson Boon said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
This comment has been removed by the author.

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