Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Post-Election Education News

There were local as well as state outcomes for the mid-term elections.

Naturally, the big story in Seattle is the overwhelming passage of the latest iteration of the Families and Education levy.   When I tell people in other parts of the country how invested Seattleites are in our city - via our many levies for libraries, public education, parks, etc. - most are stunned.  It is much harder to get levies passed in other states and speaks well of our metropolis. 

All along, my goal is speaking out about the form the F&E levy had taken was to help voters understand what they would (and would not be getting) from this particular investment.

Two things that will be interesting to watch unfold for the levy.
One, the Mayor said - via a Times tweet last night - that she really has no idea about the issue of charter schools accessing F&E dollars.  I find that odd - she's a mayor who is a lawyer who has a whole city legal department and no one can figure this out?  My reading of the Washington State charter law is that it is vague on levies so that leaves the door open.  (As well, Tim Burgess said in 2014, as the chair of the F&E Oversight Committee, that he thought charters should get funds. Plus, the fact that someone in the city likes charters because they broken city code in order to give a variance to a Green Dot school.)

The Times' Neal Morton said in a tweet that charters would only get "a fraction" of the dollars.  He's right....except that it will probably be dollars from both the K-12 health services pot of money AND the K-12 programming pot of money.  So where will those dollars come from - the city's department of education or existing SPS programs?  Well, most governmental entities are loathe to give up administrative dollars so my bet is on SPS programs. 

Two, if Jeff Bezos comes thru on his promise of high-quality, free pre-ks for low-income kids, well, that's going to be quite the competition to the City's program.  The levy is for seven years and a lot can get done in seven years especially when you are one of the richest men in the world.

In Arizona, voters turned back expansion of their voucher program.  From the Arizona Daily Star:
Arizona voters refused Tuesday to ratify a bid by Gov. Doug Ducey and Republican lawmakers to allow any of the state’s 1.1 million students in public schools to get vouchers of state tax dollars to attend private and parochial schools.
Unofficial returns showed a majority of voters want to limit the voucher program to those who already qualify for the state dollars. A vote for the measure would have removed all preconditions for students to get vouchers.
On the heels of today's departure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, there is talk that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may be on her way out.  Seems there is worry about how she can explain her actions as secretary to a now-Democratic House.  From Education Week:
What's the biggest impact of Democrats controlling the committee? Most of all, it means increased oversight of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Since DeVos assumed office more than 18 months ago, Foxx has called the secretary to testify before the committee only once. But with Scott in charge, you can expect to see more of DeVos on Capitol Hill, where she often makes news willingly or otherwise. 

That's because Democrats have attacked DeVos about virtually everything she's done, from her decision to nix Obama-era guidance expanding transgender students' access to school facilities, to her (so far unsuccessful) pushes to cut the U.S. Department of Education's budget. Scott and others won't be disappointed to see more headlines like the kind DeVos has created over undocumented students and gun control in her few public appearances before federal lawmakers.

In particular, you can expect lots of questions about how DeVos has handled civil rights, particularly since Scott used to work as a civil rights attorney and has led other Democrats in opposing the Trump administration's decisions about affirmative action, racial integration of schools, and how the office for civil rights has deemphasized investigations into systemic bias and discrimination, among other issues.
The former state superintendent of public schools in Wisconsin,Tony Evers, beat incumbent governor, Scott Walker.  Walker was no friend to the state's teachers union so I'm sure there must be happiness in that group. 

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