Charter Bill to Get Hearing on Friday

The Washington Policy Center had a whole article about how swell charter schools are doing, both in enrollment and outcomes. Over and over, charter supporters say there is "evidence" that students in former charter schools are doing better but they have given NO definitive, verifiable evidence. There are no baseline scores to say where the kids were before they came into the former charters and no explanation of what kinds of assessments were done (what? two months into school?) to show progress.

What I DID find was the following about charter schools in Washington State.

Soar Academy's Dec Board minutes reflect this:

"Kristina gave an update on enrollment that we are approximately 20% below target enrollment mostly due to families concerned with uncertainty around charter schools.

Apparently every former charter isn't full.

I also think it unseemly for Green Dot's Destiny Middle school to offer parents $5 gift card for referrals and free uniform shirts for students who enroll by a certain date. Real public schools generally don't try to bribe parents and students.

As well, Rainier Prep had this in their December minutes:

"Ms. O’Sullivan reported on the current reading data. Specifically,she reported that for the 5th grade, 23% of the students are at K-2nd grade reading level; 39% are at 3rd-4th grade level; 21% are at 5th grade level; and 17% are above grade level.

For 6th grade, Ms. O’Sullivan reported 10% of the students are at 1st-3rd grade level; 44% are at 4th-5th grade level; 15% are at 6th grade level; and 31% are above grade level."

So apparently not all charter school students are doing better - not when you have over 50% of 5th graders not reading at grade level and for 6th grade, you have over 55% not at grade level.

The Senate's charter bill has been blended with the House's (they were identical) into E2SSB 6194. The House Education Committee, headed by Seattle's Sharon Tomiko-Santos, will hear the bill at 1:30 pm on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016.

The only Seattle legislator on the House bill is, of course, Eric Pettigrew. He and Larry Springer are the only Dems on the House bill along with about 20 Republicans. That's not bi-partisan.

But, it is important for you to make your views known to your legislators. As my previous thread on the editorial by the Times about supporting McCleary shows, nearly all the major newspapers in this state seem to think McCleary is not getting the attention it deserves and the state, the schools and the students are going to pay a heavy price for that inattention.

PLEASE call or write your legislator before Friday. They NEED to hear from you. Make sure you tell them you are a constituent AND that you vote.

You may send a brief message to your district legislators through the in-state toll-free Hotline number: 800.562.6000. The Hearing Impaired can send a brief message to their district legislators through the in-state toll-free TTY Hotline number: 800.635-9993.

You may send an e-mail message to your legislator by using the legislator e-mail services at

I believe there was a lot of pressure on Rep. Tomiko-Santos to bring this to a hearing and good for her for allowing it. It might make it out of committee but I doubt it would pass in the House and the Governor is not going to sign it. The Governor has made clear his non-belief in charter schools.  
If this bill passes into law, it will not withstand a judicial review. Inslee's not going to sign a law (or let pass into law) that has trouble written all over it.

Because, just like the last charter law, it does NOT include oversight by the state superintendent of public instruction (see Article III, Section22 of the constitution that gives the superintendent oversee over ALL public schools, not just common schools.)

Additionally, it still includes the conversion charter provision that would allow ANY school in our district (or any district) to be taken over by a charter operator who had both an approved charter AND a petition signed by a majority of parents OR teachers at a school.

What that means in plain terms is that a charter operator could upend a school (a school with, say, 20 teachers) by having 11 teachers sign a petition that they approved. Eleven people cannot decide the fate of an entire school community. Nor should any non-profit be able to take over use of a public building (the district would retain ownership and would have to do all major maintenance repairs.)

I believe the conversion clause would fall under "gifting of public funds" and would not withstand a judicial challenge.

Why are these bills being created that are not going to withstand judicial scrutiny? I can only think it's arrogance and hubris.

The Washington State Charter Schools Association is going to have a full-court press at the hearing. More busing in of students from former charter schools is highly likely. (And I note that Rep. Chad Magendanz sneered at the PTA for not bringing in more public school students for PTA Focus Day. It was not on a holiday and, I suspect, most parents believe their children should be in school learning than sitting in a hearing for hours.)

I myself will be going to Olympia to testify.

Interestingly, the Tacoma News Tribune has a pretty weak editorial on supporting charter schools but even they say this:

It’s too soon to take full measure of Washington’s charter experiment. Five months isn’t sufficient to tell whether the schools will shift paradigms, reverse the fortunes of disadvantaged urban students and disprove fears that scarce resources will be drained from traditional public schools.


Anonymous said…
Larry Springer, not David Springer.

I would prefer to hear an unequivocal statement from Inslee like Gregoire made about a charter school bill that was in the Legislature while she was governor: "If this gets to my desk I will veto it."

-- Ivan Weiss
Anonymous said…
Plenty of evidence demonstrates that Charter Schools are all about corporate profits.

The appeal goes to those families who are not served fairly by public schools, and the pattern is consistent nationally:

--students who are warehoused in high FRL "neighborhood schools" where research confirms highly negative outcomes (Check for SPS--there was a recent post where the "optics" at OH became an issue, not the underlying prevalence of segregated and highly impacted schools in the district) BTW-you can't assume that the low fifth- and sixth-grade readers were long-term products of the Charter School; they were just as likely transfers from a public school.

--students in schools with lower funding, usually by taxes but sometimes other means (Check for SPS--where PTA funding goes into the $100,000s in some schools under the rationale that their kid's school isn't getting Title One or LAP funding)

--schools where highly capable students are left to wither since they are unidentified systemically under the modern day eugenics argument that "kids in poverty are born with lower IQs"--a prevalent argument on this blog (Check for SPS--even though the state law will be changing that)

You can't be against charters and continue to allow the underlying district inequities to go on without suffering a serious credibility issue.

Charter Schools will only be stopped by both fighting the powers-that-be and changing the underlying conditions that create demand.

There is plenty of outrage here about charters, but not proportionate outrage about the underlying inequities.

--about time
Pesky One said…

"There is plenty of outrage here about charters, but not proportionate outrage about the underlying inequities"

Yea, charter schools are already draining resources from public schools and we're seeing higher class sizes for high school. I look forward to seeing your outrage if and when charter schools result in continued deterioration of public schools for all.

In case you haven't noticed, we're already seeing fall-out from charter schools and the billionaires behind the effort. We've seen an unconstitutional bill get put on a ballot and charter operator/commission prematurely open charter schools before the court ruling. We're watching Randy Dorn act a manner that is probably inconsistent with the law to fund unconstitutional charter schools, and we're seeing the same old faces creating PACs.

Charter schools perform the same as- or worse- than public schools.

The state has 30,000 homeless students and you think charter schools will fix that? Get off your high horse, about time.
Pesky One said…
Here are some great posts:
"There is plenty of outrage here about charters, but not proportionate outrage about the underlying inequities."

Apparently you've missed the McCleary decision. And Soup for Teachers. And Washington's Paramount Duty.
NO 1240 said…

I am asking individuals to contact A) State Representative Sharon Tomiko-Santos and ask that the charter bill not be allowed out of committee B) Frank Chopp and ask that the bill not to be brought to the floor for a vote and C) Inslee and ask that he veto the charter bill:

I've looked at the bill and share Melissa's assessment. I believe the bill is unconstitutional because a)Charter schools will be overseen by an APPOINTED board b) Funding will go DIRECTLY to a charter school and will not be overseen by an elected board c) the bill allows public properties to be transferred to private entities and we're looking at the gifting of public buildings worth tens of millions of dollars and d) funds from the general fund will be co-mingled with lottery funds.

The Supreme Court was clear- Charter schools must have elected and local oversight. I can't imagine the bureaucracy of an elected board overseeing a charter board. Ridiculous.

We're seeing messaging that charter schools are showing gains, but charter schools will not release the data.

I also note that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided the Mary Walker School District with $150K to cover legal costs and $15K to hire Strategies 360 to cover public relation costs.
NO 1240 said…

I am also encouraging individuals tocomment on bills. The comment section is immediately under yellow banner.

Anonymous said…
Every candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction should be grilled with questions and follow-up questions about this bill.

-- Ivan Weiss
Anonymous said…
As you consider your testimony or letters to legislators and the governor, you would do well to keep two facts in mind --- and these two facts are not under dispute:

1. The state Supreme Court declared I-1240 unconstitutional. They did not declare charter schools unconstitutional.

2. Our state constitution distinguishes between public schools and common schools. These terms are not synonymous in our state. Common schools are a subset of public schools.

--- aka
seattle citizen said…
Okay, I'll bite: what is the larger set of "public schools" of which common schools are a subset?
Anonymous said…
Article IX, Section 2: "...The public school system shall include common schools, and such high schools, normal schools, and technical schools as may hereafter be established..."

--- aka
AKA, no one said anyone declared charter schools unconstitutional. We certainly read the decision here at the blog and said that.

To your point, since charters would fall into the "public school" category, then the State Superintendent is supposed to have oversight. If someone had been bright enough to write something in, this bill might pass.

They DID include the State Superintendent on the Charter Commission which is laughable. The Legislature is amending the constitution for the duties of the superintendent? Okay, but Randy Dorn himself told me no superintendent would have the time to serve and he would have to send someone. The minute he "sends someone" there goes any real elected oversight. That person becomes like the rest of the Charter Commission, an appointed person.
Anonymous said…
Melissa, Dora Taylor writes that the Supreme Court declared charter schools unconstitutional every single time she writes about the topic. And you frequently link to her blog.

So it's not accurate to say "no one said anyone declared charter schools unconstitutional." People say it all the time.

--- aka
NO 1240 said…
"Every candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction should be grilled with questions and follow-up questions about this bill."

I agree, Ivan. To date, I've not seen candidates take-on really tough questions. Lots of fluff, though. I'd like to ask candidates their opinions regarding Dorn and the manipulation of ALE rules to fund unconstitutional schools. Would they have done the same? Do candidates support funding charter schools via ALE.

I appreciate aka's comments. However, there are attempts to make charter schools appear similar to Running Start; they are NOT. Private entities want our public schools enormous source of public wealth worth tens of millions of dollars. Running Start students attend Community Colleges that have an appointed board, but unlike the charter school bill, we do NOT hand over our community college BUILDINGS to private entities.

The charter bill also allows flow of public dollars DIRECTLY to charter schools. In the case of Running Start, dollars flow through the school district, which is under local and elected the college.

The charter bill has an appointed board under an elected board. Dollars do not go through the elected board's oversight; dollars go directly to charter schools. I don't see that the elected school board has much control- at all.

Privatizers are trying to get their foot in the door and they desire nothing more than expanding. As is, the bill wants to create an additional 40 charter schools, and not include existing charter schools in the number.
Anonymous said…
Just to be clear, I'm not here to debate the merits of nor to advocate for charter schools. I simply wanted to share these two issues. I'll comment no further on this topic here.

--- aka
Anonymous said…
aka can split all the semantic and legalistic hairs he wants to, but charter schools as defined by I-1240 have been ruled unconstitutional, and charter schools as defined by HB 2367 and SB 6194 almost certainly will be also, in the unfortunate event that this becomes law. Charter schools, like anything else subject to the law, must be defined for legal purposes. Until such time as charter schools are defined by a law that passes constitutional muster, charter schools are unconstitutional, and no one should hesitate to say so.

-- Ivan Weiss
No 1240 said…
Lastly, there is an attempt to fund charter schools through the Opportunity Pathway dollars; these are lottery dollars. However, lottery dollars are currently funding early learning and scholarships. There was an amendment that would disallow charter funding at the expense of early learning/ scholarships. So, general funds will flow into the Opportunity Pathway account.

The Supremes declared I 1240 unconstitutional because there was no way of differentiating Common School funds from general funds, and Common School funds require elected and local oversight. By co=mingling lottery and general funds..we essentially have the same as the general fund and common school scheme.

One person did an analysis and felt, as charter schools expanded, there would not be enough dollars in the lottery account. I've not done the math.

Sometimes I think that some want to pass an unconstitutional bill, expand charter schools, get kids in buildings, continue the campaign to keep charter schools open and figure a way to fund the schools. Gates and the Washington State Charter Association have the funds to keep=up with the fight.
Charlie Mas said…
Could someone please provide me with links to places on this blog where the argument that "kids in poverty are born with lower IQs" was ever made? I don't remember reading that.
AKA, kind of tedious. Clearly, I meant THIS blog and not every single thing written about the decision that is out there.

The fight for charter schools is absolutely about adult issues and getting a wedge in to Washington State. No one who truly cared about students and their parents would have gone down the road that charter supporters have.

I note that most of the former charters are soliciting for new students and their websites say virtually nothing about the current situation. That's deplorable.
NO 1240 said…
Imagine: The privatizers schmoozing public school teachers at your local school and a simple majority of teachers begin a process to convert a public building to a private entity. The building would be under the control of an appointed board and there is NO mechanism to return the school to oversight of an elected board.

Anonymous said…
Charlie --

I don't have a link, but I believe there has been mention (perhaps in comments) on this blog about the link between childhood poverty, increased exposure to lead, and decreased cognitive function ( I'm not sure if that's what About Time is referring to, though.

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