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Per a recent post titled Innovation Schools/Creative Approach Schools and ALEC:
…our district’s union leadership decided to take this on to show that we could have innovative schools in Seattle and therefore didn’t need charter schools even though we have “Option Schools”, which are progressive alternative schools(option schools), Montessori, STEM, the IB program and other schools and programs that could be considered “innovative schools”. There were objections to the term “Innovation Schools” because that was too close to what charter schools were so the leadership renamed it “Creative Approach Schools”. Same difference. It’s still a charter school in sheep’s clothing.
According to the, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Seattle Education Association (SEA) and the Seattle School District, there is to be no oversight by the school board and teachers lose their collective bargaining rights that are usually shared under one umbrella. In exchange for that, the staff can develop their own curriculum. The sad part about this is that the option schools including STEM were already receiving waivers from the straitjacket of curriculum alignment so this was completely unnecessary. The other very sad part is that the Seattle Education Association (SEA) led the way with this plan, marching down the path of ed reform with their membership following blindly behind them with the exception of a few teachers who have filed a lawsuit regarding this approach.
And the very worst of it is that it plays right into the hands of ALEC.
At the website ALEC exposed there is a list of bill templates that can be used in several different categories including education that have been developed by members of ALEC. One of the templates is for Innovation Schools and parts of this template are word for word what the district is doing to itself. There is also one for charter schools by the way. For the people driving ALEC, it’s all about union busting and the privatization of all aspects of American life.
What makes it even worse (yes, it does get worse) is that some brain trust added no school board oversight of these schools in the agreement. That goes beyond what even ALEC dreamed of! I don’t know whose idea it was to add that verbiage but inquiring minds do want to know. That will determine whether it was just plain stupidity or a willful action on the part of a community member who is on board with corporate reform.
When there is little to no oversight of regulations, students and parents lose their right to appeal to what they consider unfair treatment and there is no adherence to requirements such as enrollment of any and all students. This is what happens in charter schools. Students, for instance, are kicked out of the school and the student has no right to appeal because either the parent signed a form relinquishing all rights or the charter school claims that it is not a public school and therefore doesn’t need to follow the rules and regulations that a public school must adhere to.
This path that SEA and the school board has chosen is a slippery slope down a very steep hill.
As it turns out, a judge on Thursday also decided that the school board would not be doing its duty if it did not oversee all public schools in the district and deemed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) invalid. It looks like common sense prevailed, at least this time.
According to the judge, if School Board Director Sharon Peaslee’s amendment to the MOU had been approved, which would have included school board oversight and accountability, the judge would have seen no problem with the MOU but Director DeBell pushed for no board oversight of these “Creative Approach Schools” and that is what passed.
The judge stated that the School Board (the district’s legislative body) cannot delegate out their responsibilities that are listed in state law.
The issue of the Creative Approach Schools is remanded back to the School Board which has two choices. The MOU can be revised and approved by the Seattle Education Association (SEA) and the district but it will require school board oversight or the MOU can be dropped.
According to Jack Whelan, one of the plaintiff’s in this lawsuit:
The judge basically knocked down the district’s argument that the board has a right to delegate policy-making to the superintendent or to any staff committee. The district’s argument that the superintendent, if he should choose to waive a board policy, must “consult” with the board was not sufficient.
Erlick said that there had to be wording in the MOU that gave the board “final approval” concerning any such policy waivers. Without such, the superintendent can inform and consult, and then do what he wants no matter what the board says and he would be completely within his rights.
Which is exactly what has happened in cities like Detroit where Broad trained Financial Manager Bob Bobb came in and wreaked havoc on the school district by wrenching control out of the hands of the school board with the assistance of wealthy financiers who wanted to completely privatize that school district.
The implications of this ruling can be far-reaching if the privatization of our public schools is approved through Initiative 1240. Charter schools typically have no school board oversight and are not required to adhere to the district’s regulations which creates opportunities for unethical if not illegal behavior.
For additional information regarding this MOU, go to a post written by Jack Whelan titled Creative Approach Schools Lawsuit and Fundraiser.
To help defray legal costs, the plaintiffs are requesting donations.
Checks can be made out to “Newman Duwors Attorneys” noting MOU appeal/Keith Scully. Checks can be mailed to district watchdog Chris Jackins:
Seattle Committee to Save Schools
PO Box 84063
Seattle, WA 98124