The Battle in Seattle Against a Charter School Invasion

seattle

Originally published on The Progressive.

Charter schools and other market-based forms of “school choice” have been touted as ways to make education more responsive to “market demands.” But when you look at the latest attempt to force these schools onto the citizens of Washington state, you have to ask, “Just who is demanding these schools?”

Washington State has been pushing back against charter schools for a decade.

Three times, between 1996 and 2004, the state held ballot initiatives allowing charter schools in the state. Three times the voters said “No.”

In 2012, Bill Gates, Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos, and other wealthy education “reformers” made a concerted effort on a fourth try to bring charter schools to the state. The public received a barrage of TV ads, forums, and mailers sponsored by organizations such as the League of Education Voters and Stand for Children, both of which are financially backedby Bill Gates.

Initiative 1240 passed 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent, only squeaking by despite the enormous financial advantage of the “Yes” campaign, which outspent the “No” campaign by a margin of 12 to 1.

Charter schools remain a controversial and unpopular concept in the state of Washington particularly in Seattle where over 60 percent of the voters were against the initiative.

After Initiative 1240 passed, a special commission was established to approve charter schools in the state. It is comprised of politically appointed members with no accountability to the general public with the ability to circumvent oversight by local school boards.

The commission recently approved the Green Dot charter chain, despite its checkered history. Green Dot has been faulted for poor test score results, loss of accreditation, low SAT scores, teachers cheating on student’s tests, poor teacher pay, high teacher turnover, student free speech violations, and misleading parents.

The Green Dot charter chain got its foothold in Seattle by subterfuge.

When community members in Southeast Seattle, a neighborhood of minority cultures and immigrants, found out a Green Dot middle school was part of a development plan there, citizen activists pushed back.

Former Seattle School Board member Sue Peters, who helped block Green Dot from receiving a zoning variance, told me in an interview: “Green Dot is violating the law. They have no legal right to make that request, yet someone in the City worked with Green Dot behind the scenes and granted them one waiver already and want to grant them another . . . So Green Dot is committing violation after violation.”

“Too often [charters] want rules and laws broken or special treatment that public schools are not granted,” she summed up. “And then they have the audacity to claim to make apples to apples comparisons with truly public schools.”

In May, 2017 Green Dot managed to push through a different zoning variance—this one to have “greater than allowed” building height for a high school—and, again, by operating under the radar and with the assistance of the City of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods division of Major Institutions and Schools.

When community advocates called attention to Green Dot requesting a second variance, the Seattle School Board unanimously passed a resolution that charter schools should not be afforded a variance because they are not considered public schools.

On the board of the company Homesight, which is the developer of the site in Southeast Seattle, is an executive from Impact Public Schools, which advocates for charter schools, Natalie Hester, who also serves on the board of the Washington State Charter Schools Association.

There were no representatives from Seattle Public School district on the board of the company.

With the variance for the high school successfully pushed through, but the variance for the middle school stymied by the school board’s resolution, Green Dot has decided to co-locate the high school with the junior high school.

Local citizens protested at the construction site.

And once again, the legality of charter schools is being challenged at the level of the State Supreme Court.

Seattle citizens voted three times against charter schools and there is no indication that opinions have changed. Only a select few backroom operators want the privatization of public schools in Seattle so the battle in Seattle continues.

Dora Taylor

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Why is Washington State Attorney General Robert Ferguson sticking his neck out for charter schools?

Question-Mark-Chalk-Board

In politics, actions are everything. That’s why it’s especially interesting Attorney General Bob Ferguson has decided to defend charter schools AFTER they were ruled unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court.

Here’s the twist: before the Supreme Court made their surprise ruling, many opponents of the charter school Initiative 1240 predicted the law was unconstitutional. The basis of their argument was that charters did not qualify as “common schools” because they weren’t under the supervision of an elected body. Because these schools were not common, they should not have access to public funds.

Currently the Washington State Legislature is being held in contempt by the Supreme Court for not fully funding public education in the state of Washington. This was just as true in 2012, when the voters narrowly approved Initiative 1240.

After Initiative 1240 squeaked to victory with 50.69% of the vote, both the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Randy Dorn, and the newly elected Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, decided not to challenge its constitutional standing.

This voter approved initiative opened the gates for public education funding to be channeled to private organizations without public oversight — essentially denying even more funding from the state’s resource starved public schools.

On September 4, 2015, the Washington State Supreme Court dropped a bomb, ruling 6-3 that Initiative 1240 did not meet the condition of a common school and should not receive public money.  Here is the meat of their argument:

The Act identifies charter schools as common schools and is expressly reliant on common school funding to support such charter schools. That a funding source is required for the existence of charter schools is self-evident. As discussed above, the Act specifically intends to use common school funding allocations as that source. Without a valid funding source the charter schools envisioned in I-1240 are not viable. Moreover, I- 1240’s (the Charter School Act) voters’ pamphlet stressed that the funding for charter schools will come from existing funding sources in the form of a “shift [in] revenues” from “local public school districts to charter schools.” … In sum, without funding, charter schools are not viable. Nor can it be believed that voters would have approved the Charter School Act without its funding mechanism. …

In sum, the Charter School Act violates article IX, section 2 [of the Washington State Constitution] because charter schools are not common schools despite the Act’s attempt to so designate them. The Act’s designated funding mechanisms fail, and these provisions are not severable from the remainder of the Charter School Act. …

Now Attorney General Bob Ferguson wants the Supreme Court to reconsider. His argument:

“The decision not only invalidates Initiative 1240, but also unnecessarily calls into question the constitutionality of a wide range of other state educational programs,” the statement said. “These important programs range from Running Start to Washington State Skills Centers that provide career and technical education to high school students.”

In regards to Running Start, this argument is not true.

Running Start dollars go to school districts, under the supervision of an elected school board, and then the district transfers at least 93% of the funds to community colleges to pay for the district’s students who enroll there. What’s more, the school board has to approve an agreement with the community or technical college about the level of reimbursement for each student receiving Running Start services from that public institutions.

Also Washington State Skills Centers, which Ferguson brings up later, are based on inter-local agreements with school districts which are authorized by elected school boards. Funding for skill centers is directed through school districts.

Being curious about Ferguson’s sudden interest in the constitutional merit of I-1240, I did some poking around the PDC and found this:

On August 17th, 2015 Ferguson received two campaign contributions from Apollo Education Group, Inc. for a total of $1,500 dollars. Among other things, this group likes to invest in charter schools. Interesting coincidence, no?

And more about the Apollo Group from Education Alchemy, LAMAR ALEXANDER AND THE CORPORATE PRIVATIZERS: WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Another interesting thing to keep watch over as Senator Alexander begins to push his education agenda is how the for profit education enterprises,(especially Apollo Education Group) at both the k-12 level but at the higher education level benefit from his legislation. For one thing, Apollo Education Group is directly involved with ALEC and we can see that Sen Alexander takes his bill writing tips from ALEC model bills (as seen above).

Who is Apollo Education Group?

Apollo Education was founded in 1973. It is an international privately run corporation that owns ten for-profit subsidiaries most notably, University of Phoenix.  It also has direct ties to ALEC. As one report states, “As we are now aware, education privatization, for-profit colleges, vouchers and higher education issues are now at the top of ALEC’s to-do list. One of the SCP board members is the VP of Apollo Group – also involved directly with ALEC on pushing education legislation.”

According to a 2014 report Apollo serves as a revolving door for positions of people who also serve politicians including Lamar Alexander:

“Apollo Group, which runs the biggest for-profit college, the University of Phoenix, spent $490,000 in the first quarter of 2014 lobbying in Washington, with $320,000 of that spent on in-house lobbying and the rest divided among lobbying firms stocked with former government staffers who have passed through the revolving door (including) …the Penn Hill Group, featuring Victor Klatt, a former aide at the U.S. Department of Education under then-Secretary Lamar Alexander, now a Senator (R-TN), … Apollo recently also hired a team of revolving door lobbyists from Crossroads Strategies LLC, including former aides to Lott and Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Thad Cochran (R-MS).  Apollo is under investigation by the attorneys general of Florida, Delaware, and Massachusetts, and recently received a broad subpoena from the Department of Education’s Inspector General regarding its business practices.”

19 out of 26 Apollo Education Group lobbyists in 2013-2014 have previously held government jobs.

So why is Attorney General Bob Ferguson resorting to scare tactics about Running Start and Skill Centers? Why go to bat to save charter schools which will further starve our public schools of funding?

One thing I do know, having a Supreme Court that’s keeping an eye on both the Executive and Legislative branch is a good thing. Otherwise, public education in the state of Washington would be in even worst shape.

–Carolyn Leith

The Kiss of Death to Public Schools: Bill Gates and the Dementors

This post was submitted by a contributor.

I am clarifying this because Suzanne Estey, who is running against Sue Peters for Seattle school board, just sent out another nasty gram in desperation attributing this graphic to Sue Peters, Suzanne’s opponent, in an attempt to win her seat on the board even though she has less creds than Sue.

This graphic was mailed to me by an opponent to I1240, the charter school amendment, and I chose to post it.

For more on Bill Gates and his ideas on education, see:

Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation

The Weekly Update: Money, power and corruption; Gates is not so sure his ideas will work…but, oh well; TFA, Inc cashes in again and more

For more on Nick Hanuaer, a major contributor to Suzanne Estey’s campaign, see:

An Open Letter to Nick Hanauer from Bill Lyne, President of United Faculty of Washington State

THE CHARTER-PUSHERS: WHO IS BANKROLLING THE $8 MILLION EFFORT (and counting) TO BRING CHARTERS TO WASHINGTON STATE?

Initiative I-1240: The money and the lies

“Before you can fund the charter school, you have to fund an advocacy organization that can create a climate for the charter school to exist”

Senator Adam Kline: A bad day for the democratic process

The League of Education Voters is at it again. This time they’re going after the teachers.

Rainier Beach Responds to the League of Education Voters Attack on Its School and Community

For information about Chris Korsmo, Lisa Macfarlane, formerly with LEV, and the League of Education Voters (LEV) see:

A Look Back at the League of Education Voters

Lisa Macfarlane of WA DFER, and now Suzanne Estey, with their conspiracy theories

For more on Lisa Macfarlane, now Director of Democrats for Education Reform  (DFER) for Washington State, and another major contributor to Estey’s campaign, see:

A vote for Sue Peters is a vote for the rest of us

and:

Submitted by Dora Taylor

Washington State Charter School Lawsuit: The Details

I have posted below parts of the Complaint that pertain to the unconstitutionality of the Charter School Act.

A summary of the lawsuit can be found on  the post Parents, educators, and community groups file lawsuit challenging new charter school law in Washington State.

The complaint in full can be viewed at the Washington Education Association’s website.

Dora Taylor

capitol

Introduction of the Complaint:

Article IX, section 1 of the Washington Constitution establishes that the “paramount duty” of the State of Washington (“State”) is to make “ample” provision for the education of children within its borders. The State must provide for a “general and uniform” system of public schools, including “common” schools. Const., art. IX, § 2. A “common school” is a school “that is common to all children of proper age and capacity, free, and subject to, and under the control of, the qualified voters of the school district.” Sch. Dist. No. 20 v. Bryan, 51 Wash. 498, 504, 99 Pac. 28 (1909). Certain state funds — revenue derived from the common school fund and the state tax for common schools — are to be used “exclusively” to support the State’s common schools. Const., art. IX, § 2, 3.

In the November 2012 general election, voters enacted Initiative Measure No. 1240 (“1-1240”), which authorizes the creation of charter schools. See ch. 28A.710 RCW, together with the sections of Titles 28A and 41 RCW added or amended by 1-1240 (collectively, “Charter School Act” or “Act”).’ Charter schools are funded from the revenues restricted by the Constitution for exclusive support of the State’s common schools. But unlike the State’s existing common schools, charter schools are operated by private non-profit corporations, are not subject to voter control, and are exempt from a wide array of state laws and rules applicable to school districts, including many of the programing requirements determined by the Legislature to meet the basic education requirements of the Constitution.

This Court already has determined, in McCleary v. State, 173 Wn.2d 477,539, 269 P.3d 227 (2012) and subsequent orders, that the State is failing to satisfy its paramount duty to make ample provision for public education. The Charter School Act further exacerbates this failure by diverting common school funds to private non-profits in violation of the Constitution.

Because the Charter School Act violates the education provisions of the Washington Constitution, impedes the State’s ability to fund public education as required by McCleary, and otherwise violates rights as outlined below, Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief against Defendant to declare the Charter School Act unconstitutional and to prevent further implementation of the Act.

FACTS

School districts “must allocate levy moneys to a conversion charter school,” including “local levy moneys approved by the voters before the conversion start-up date of the school[.]” RCW 28A.710.220(6).

A new charter school authorized by a school district also is eligible for levy funds from levies approved before the existence of the charter school. RCW 28A.710.220(7).

The Act does not provide for consideration of the economic impact on school districts in the charter application approval process or for any discretion in the amount of funding that the State and school districts must give to a charter school. See RCW 28A.710.140, .220.

The Act also requires charter schools to comply only with certain specified local, state, and federal laws. RCW 28A.710.040(2). For example, charter schools must “[p]rovide basic education, as provided in RCW 28A.150.210, including instruction in the essential academic learning requirements [‘EARLs’] and participate in the statewide student assessment system as developed under RCW 28A.655.070[.]” RCW 28A.710.040(2)(b).

With the exception of “the specific state statutes and rules” identified in RCW 28A.710.040(2). and any “state statutes and rules made applicable to the charter school in the school’s charter contract[,] . . . [c]harter schools are not subject to and are exempt from all other state statutes and rules applicable to school districts and school district boards of directors[.]” RCW 28A.710.050(3).

Thus, although the Act defines a “charter school” as a “public, common school,” RCW 28A.710.020(l), it exempts charter schools from many of the “Common School Provisions in Title 28A RCW that are applicable to commons schools. The Act also provides that charter schools must “[p]rovide basic education, as provided in RCW 28A.150.210,” RCW 28A.710.040(2)(b), but exempts charter schools from offering many components of the education program outlined in the basic education act. For example, charter schools are exempt from the “minimal instructional requirements” for “basic education” set forth in RCW 28A.150.220.

The Act also exempts charter schools from a range of other state statutes and rules applicable to school districts “in areas such as scheduling, personnel, funding, and educational programs[.]” RCW 28A.710.040(3).

The Charter School Act also provides that charter employees are covered by the Public Employees’ Collective Bargaining Act, chapter 41.56 RCW, and the Educational Employment Relations Act, chapter 41.59 RCW (together, “state collective bargaining laws”), but that “[a]ny bargaining unit or units established at the charter school must be limited to employees working in the charter school and must be separate from other bargaining units in school districts, educational service districts, or institutions of higher education.” RCW41.56.0251, .59.031.

CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATIONS

Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege each of the foregoing allegations as though fully set forth herein. (Plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the Charter School Act in its entirety.)

Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege each of the foregoing allegations as though fully set forth herein.

Article IX, section 2 of the Constitution requires the Legislature to provide for a system of public schools, which system must include “common schools” and also may include high schools, normal schools, and technical schools.

Article IX, sections 2 and 3 require that certain state funds be used exclusively to support the State’s common schools. A “common school,” as the term is used in the Constitution, means a school: that is common to all children of proper age and capacity, free, and subject to, and under the control of, the qualified voters of the school district. The complete control of the schools is a most important feature, for it carries with it the right of the voters, through their chosen agents, to select qualified teachers, with power to discharge them if they are incompetent. Sch. Dist. No. 20 v. Bryan, 51 Wash. 498, 504, 99 Pac. 28 (1909).

Using enumerated state monies to fund schools other than common schools violates the Constitution.

The Charter School Act requires the State to apply monies from the restricted state common school fund to support charter schools. Charter schools do not meet the requirements for common schools because charter schools are neither subject to, nor under the control of, the qualified voters of the school district.

For example, voters do not have the right, through their chosen agents, to select and discharge teachers. Instead, a charter school board comprised of members appointed or selected under the terms of a charter application submitted by a private non-profit corporation has the authority to hire, manage, and discharge any charter school employee.

Additionally, voters do not have the right to elect agents with supervisory authority over charter schools authorized by the Commission. Instead, the Commission, which is comprised of appointed members, supervises the charter schools it authorizes.

Thus, the Charter School Act violates article IX, sections 2 and 3 of the Constitution by applying restricted state common school funds to support schools other than common schools.

Title 28A RCW’s “Common School Provisions,” which include the basic education act, “satisfy the ‘general and uniform’ portion of the legislature’s article IX duty.” Id. at 525 (citation omitted).

The Charter School Act exempts charter schools from numerous provisions in the “Common School Provisions,” Title 28A RCW. For example, charter schools arenot required to offer certain components of the education program outlined in the basic education act, including many of the “minimal instructional requirements” for “basic education” set forth in RCW 28A. 150.220. Charter schools also are exempt from a range of other state statutes and rules applicable to school districts “in areas such as scheduling, personnel, funding, and educational programs[.]” RCW 28A.710.040(3).

Thus, the Charter School Act violates the general and uniform requirement of article IX, section 2 of the Constitution because charter schools do not offer every child the same advantages or subject them to the same discipline as every other child in Washington public schools and, thus, charter schools are not required to offer students a constitutionally sufficient education.

ARTICLE IX, SECTION 1 OF THE CONSTITUTION (PARAMOUNT DUTY)

Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege each of the foregoing allegations as though fully set forth herein.

Article IX, section 1 of the Constitution establishes that “[i]t is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders[.]”

In order to comply with its paramount duty under Article IX, the State must provide “substantive content” to the word “education” and to the “program it deems necessary to provide that ‘education’ within the broad guidelines.” Seattle Sch. Dist. No.1 v. State, 90 Wn.2d 476, 5 18-19, 585 P.2d 71(1978).

The State may delegate the execution of public functions to an administrative agency or private entity only if adequate standards, guidelines, and procedural safeguards exist. Specifically, the State must provide standards to indicate what is to be done and designate the agency to accomplish it. Additionally, the State must provide procedural safeguards to control arbitrary administrative action and abuse of discretionary power.

The Charter School Act constitutes an unconstitutional delegation of the State’s paramount duty because the Act fails to provide sufficient standards and guidelines to charter schools to ensure they provide a constitutionally sufficient education and fails to provide procedural safeguards to control arbitrary administrative action and abuse of discretionary power.

The Legislature has defined the substance of the constitutionally required “education” by, among other things, identifying the four learning goals set forth in RCW 28A.150.210 and adopting the EALRs.

Additionally, however, the Legislature also has defined the program necessary to provide this constitutionally required education by identifying several offerings, including the education program outlined in the basic education act.

The Charter School Act fails to set forth standards and guidelines to ensure that charter schools offer the program necessary to provide a constitutionally sufficient education. The Act does not require charter schools to offer the program that the Legislature has deemed necessary to provide students with a basic education. For example, charter schools are not required to offer many of the “minimal instructional requirements” for “basic education” set forth in RCW 28A. 150.220. Charter schools also are exempt from a range of state statutes and rules applicable to school districts in areas including scheduling, personnel, funding, and programming. The Act offers no standards or guidelines for replacing these programing requirements.

The Charter School Act also fails to set forth standards and guidelines regarding the conversion of a public school into a charter school. The Charter School Act requires only that a conversion application include a petition signed by a majority of parents or teachers at the school and that the conversion charter school provide sufficient capacity to allow any enrolled student to remain after the conversion. The Act provides no standards or guidelines for the formation or implementation of a conversion school, including but not limited to what options students who do not want to attend the conversion charter would have, whether teachers and other staff would continue to be employed at the school, or how the conversion would accommodate programs for special needs students or other specialty programs housed at the school.

The Charter School Act also constitutes an unconstitutional delegation of the State’s paramount duty because the Act lacks procedural safeguards to control arbitrary action and abuse of discretionary power by private non-profits.

The private interest at stake is the affirmative right of all children residing within the state to have the State make ample provision for their education through a general and uniform common school system. This right is paramount under the Constitution.

There is great risk of an erroneous deprivation of that interest because the Charter School Act exempts charter schools from offering the programs needed to provide a constitutionally sufficient education. There is no mechanism for voters or parents of students at charter schools to control the programs offered by charter schools or the hiring or firing decisions at the school.

The Act provides that authorized schools districts and the Commission may revoke or decline to renew charter contracts only under specified circumstances and only after notice, time to prepare a response, a hearing that includes documents and testimony, a reasonable period for deliberation, and a final written determination, during which time all students enrolled at the charter school would be receiving a constitutionally inadequate education.

At charter schools authorized by the Commission, no elected official has supervisory authority over the private charter school board or the authority to revoke or decline to renew a charter contract.

The State’s interest (if any) in maintaining the limited procedures applicable to charter schools is minimal.

For at least these reasons, the Charter School Act violates the State’s paramount duty under article IX, section 1 of the Constitution because the Act fails to provide adequate standards, guidelines, and procedural safeguards to ensure that students receive a constitutionally sufficient education.

ARTICLE IX, SECTION 1 OF THE CONSTITUTION (AMPLE PROVISION FOR EDUCATION)

Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege each of the foregoing allegations as though fully set forth herein.

Article IX. section 1 of the Constitution establishes that the “paramount duty” of the State is to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.

The State has failed and continues to fail to provide the funding needed to fulfill this duty. As a result, in McCleary, 173 Wn.2d at 547, the Washington Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to fully fund basic educational programs by 2018.

Charter schools are not part of the basic educational programs the Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to fund.

Charter schools are exempt from many of the basic education requirements identified by the Washington Supreme Court as necessary to provide a constitutionally sufficient education.

The Charter School Act requires that already deficient state funds be diverted to support charter schools.

The Act does not provide for consideration of the economic impact on school districts in the charter approval process or for any discretion in the amount of funding that the State and school districts must provide to a charter school.

The Charter School Act therefore violates article IX, section 1 of the Constitution and is contrary to the Supreme Court’s decision in McCleary because the Act diverts funds from public schools to charter schools without providing any mechanism to ensure that doing so will not interfere with the State’s paramount duty to make ample provision for education.

ARTICLE III, SECTION 22 OF THE CONSTITUTION (SUPERINTENDENT SUPERVISION)

Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege each of the foregoing allegations as though fully set forth herein.

Article III, section 22 of the Constitution requires that the state superintendent of public instruction “have supervision over all matters pertaining to public schools[.]”

The Charter School Act defines charter schools as public common schools.

The Charter Commission, through its management, supervision, and enforcement of the charter contracts, administers the portion of the public common school system consisting of the charter schools it authorizes.

Members of the Charter Commission are appointed by the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, not the superintendent of public instruction.

The Charter Commission is an independent state agency and is not subject to oversight by the board of education or the superintendent of public instruction.

The Charter School Act provides that a charter school is managed and operated by a charter school board, which is comprised of members appointed or selected under the terms of a charter application, not the superintendent of public instruction.

The superintendent of public instruction thus has no supervisory authority over the Charter Commission or charter schools authorized by the Charter Commission in violation of Article III, section 22 of the Constitution.

ARTICLE VII, SECTION 2(a) OF THE CONSTITUTION (SCHOOL DISTRICT LEVIES)

Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege each of the foregoing allegations as though fully set forth herein.

Article VII, section 2(a) of the Constitution requires that “a proposition under this subsection to levy an additional tax for a school district shall be authorized by a majority of the voters voting on the proposition, regardless of the number of voters voting on the proposition[.]”

Because levies of taxes must be approved by voters in the tax district, taxes levied for one purpose cannot be applied by the district to another purpose.

RCW 84.52.053 grants school districts the authority to levy taxes. Under this provision, voters in nearly every school district in Washington have passed levies for the funding of education and/or for construction of school facilities in their respective districts.

The Charter School Act improperly mandates the use of school district levy funds already approved by voters for a purpose other than the purpose for which the levies were approved.

RCW 28A.710.220(6) requires that conversion charter schools receive levy funds from levies approved by the voters before the existence of the conversion charter school.

RCW 28A.710.220(7) provides that a new charter school authorized by the school district also is eligible for levy funds from levies approved before the existence of the charter school.

Voters in each district approved levies for a specified purpose and use, including but not limited to the purpose of funding the school district’s public, common schools, without knowing that the money would be diverted to charter schools.

The Charter School Act therefore violates article VII, section 2(a) of the Constitution by changing the purpose of taxes levied by school districts.

ARTICLE II, SECTION 37 OF THE CONSTITUTION (LEGISLATIVE AMENDMENT)

Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege each of the foregoing allegations as though fully set forth herein.

Article II, section 37 of the Constitution requires that “[n]o act shall ever be revised or amended by mere reference to its title, but the act revised or the section amended shall be set forth at full length.”

Under article II. section 37, where a new enactment is not a complete act such that the scope of the rights or duties created or affected by the new enactment can be determined without referring to any other statute or enactment, the existing act and/or section must be set forth in full.

Additionally, where a straightforward determination of the scope of rights or duties under the existing statutes would be rendered erroneous by the new enactment, the existing act and/or section must be set forth in full.

1-1240 and the Charter School Act revise and amend the scope of rights and duties of common schools, and the rights and duties of common schools to provide a basic education, without setting forth those revisions and amendments in full.

Although the Act defines a “charter school” as a “public, common school,” RCW 28A.710.020(l), the Act also exempts charter schools from many of the “Common School Provisions” in Title 28A RCW that are applicable to commons schools.

Additionally, although the Act requires that charter schools “[p]rovide basic education, as provided in RCW 28A.150.210,” RCW 28A.710.040(2)(b), the Act also exempts charter schools from offering many components of the education program outlined in the basic education act. For example, charter schools are exempt from the “minimal instructional requirements” for “basic education” set forth in RCW 10 28A.150.220.

1-1240 and the Charter School Act fail to set forth these revisions and amendments to existing law in full, in violation of article II. section 37 of the Constitution.

1-1240’s and the Charter School Act’s effect on the scope of the rights and duties of common schools, including but not limited to the scope of the rights and duties of common schools to provide a basic education, cannot be determined without referring to existing provisions governing common schools and the basic education act.

Additionally, a straightforward determination under existing law of the scope of the rights or duties of common schools, including but not limited to the rights or duties of common schools to provide a basic education, would be rendered erroneous by the revisions and amendments in 1-1240 and the Charter School Act.

1-1240 and the Charter School Act also revise and amend the scope of the rights and duties under state collective bargaining laws without setting forth those revisions and amendments in full.

RCW 41.56.0251 and RCW 41.59.031 provide that charter employees are covered by state collective bargaining laws.

1-1240 and the Charter School Act purport to add new sections to state collective bargaining laws that restrict bargaining units to charter employees working in each charter school but fail to set forth existing sections of state collective bargaining laws governing the determination of bargaining units.

1-1240 and the Charter School Act fail to set forth these revisions and amendments to existing law in full, in violation of article iT, section 37 of the Constitution.

1-1240s and the Charter School Act’s effect on the scope of rights and duties regarding the determination of collective bargaining units cannot be determined without referring to existing state collective bargaining provisions.

Additionally, a straightforward determination under existing law of the scope of the rights and duties regarding the determination of collective bargaining units would be rendered erroneous by the revisions and amendments to existing state collective bargaining laws in 1-1240 and the Charter School Act.

Thus, 1-1240 and the Charter School Act amend existing law in violation of article II, section 37 of the Constitution.

FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION: DECLARATORY JUDGMENT

Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege each of the foregoing allegations as though fully set forth herein.

For reasons including but not limited to those stated herein, an actual dispute exists between Plaintiffs and Defendant, which parties have genuine and opposing interests, which interests are direct and substantial, and of which dispute a judicial determination would be final and conclusive.

Alternatively, this matter raises important constitutional questions about the State’s paramount duty to provide an education to children within its boundaries, and a judicial opinion will benefit the public, other branches of government, and school districts within the state.

Plaintiffs will suffer immediate damage and harm if the Charter School Act is not declared unconstitutional and is permitted to be enforced.

Plaintiffs are, therefore, entitled to a declaratory judgment that the Charter School Act is unconstitutional, as well as such other and further relief as may follow from the entry of such a declaratory judgment.

VIII. SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION: INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege each of the foregoing allegations as though fully set forth herein.

For reasons including but not limited to those stated herein, Plaintiffs are entitled to prevent implementation of the Charter School Act.

Plaintiffs have clear legal rights to prevent implementation of the Charter School Act as described herein.

Plaintiffs have a well-grounded fear of immediate invasion of those rights by Defendant, which invasion will result in actual and continuing injury. No adequate remedy at law exists to remedy this invasion of Plaintiffs’ rights.

Plaintiffs are, therefore, entitled to an injunction prohibiting implementation of the Charter School Act.

In other words…

no charters_gates_1-350x232
Protesters in front of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle.

 

An Open Letter to Superintendent Randy Dorn Regarding Initiative 1240

PAA

Dec. 5, 2012

To Superintendent Dorn:

Parents Across America of Washington State, the local chapters of the national organization dedicated to the preservation of public education, has concluded that Initiative 1240 is in violation of the Washington State Constitution on multiple counts.

We therefore urge the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to pursue a legal challenge to I-1240, based on the following grounds:

1. I-1240 would establish a charter school commission comprised of politically appointed members with no election by, or accountability to, the general public. It would allocate authorization and accountability for charter schools to this commission, circumventing state-mandated oversight of our public schools by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and local school boards. (Yet this commission would cost taxpayers an estimated $3 million.) The creation of such a commission would be in violation of state law which requires public oversight of all public schools. (See: Article III, Section 22, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Duties and Salary. “The superintendent of public instruction shall have supervision over all matters pertaining to public schools, and shall perform such specific duties as may be prescribed by law.”)

2. Charter schools would not meet the definition of “common schools.” Since 1909, a “common school” has been defined as “one that is common to all children of proper age and capacity, free, and subject to, and under the control of, the qualified voters, of a school district.” Sch. Dist. No. 20, Spokane County v. Bryan, 51 Wn. 498, 99 P. 28 (1909). The state constitution also mandates a “general and uniform system of public schools.” Instead, Initiative 1240 would create an unequal subset of schools that would be granted exclusive rights and resources not accorded all schools and all children. These schools would be exempt from public oversight, violating state law that requires all public schools to be “common schools” and part of a “uniform system.” Subsequently, if charter schools are not “common,” then they do not qualify for state funding as stipulated in Article IX, Section 2, which states: “the entire revenue derived from the common school fund and the state tax for common schools shall be exclusively applied to the support of the common schools.”

3. Initiative 1240 also violates state law as recognized by the McCleary decision of January 5, 2012 (McCleary v. State of Washington), which maintains that the state has a constitutionally mandated (Article IX, section 1) “paramount duty” to fully fund all of its public schools. I-1240 would divert funding from common schools to specific schools with unique rights, creating inequity, and further diluting already inadequate resources from our public (“common”) schools, which is in violation of this law.

As the extremely close election demonstrated (50.7 – 49.3%, despite the enormous financial advantage of the “Yes” campaign, which outspent both “No” campaigns by a margin of 17-1), clearly charter schools remain a divisive, controversial and unpopular concept in Washington State. See November 06, 2012 General Election Results and the map that shows the precincts in Washington state and how they voted.

Parents Across America of Washington finds I-1240 to be an extremely flawed, unconstitutional and undemocratic proposal which circumvents genuine public oversight, and is full of troubling loopholes and opportunities to divert public funding away from our existing schools to private enterprises for proposed outcomes that statistically are no better than existing public schools 83 percent of the time (See: CREDO Report by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes.)

Therefore, as parents with children in Washington public schools who will be affected by this initiative, and as supporters of public education, we urge OSPI to legally challenge I-1240.

Sincerely,

Susan Peters, Dora Taylor, Joanna Cullen, David Spring, Steve Nesich, Linda Gower, Anastasia Samuelsen, Susan Ryan, Pat Griffith, Chris Van Vechten, Demian Godon, Sheri Feld, James Wilson, Parents Across America and Parents Across America Washington State (Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, and Tri-City chapters)

A letter from one Washingtonian (DC) to his west coast brethren: Reasons for rejecting charter school Initiative 1240

The following post is from a retired teacher in Washington D.C.

Charter Expansion (Ballot Initiative I-1240) Will Harm, Not Help, Public School Students in Washington State :  Insights from the Other Washington , the Washington (DC) Public Schools

Charter Expansion (Ballot Initiative I-1240) Will Harm, Not Help, Public School Students in Washington State:  Insights from the Other Washington, the Washington (DC) Public Schools

  • Charter schools are private schools on the public dole:
  • Unlike real public schools, they are not obligated to keep and teach the students they enroll
  • They boost their standardized test scores and graduation rates by transferring unwanted students back to the real public school system or LEA.
  • Charter advocates, like the Walton & Gates Foundations, aim to break up public schools and replace them with a lots of charter schools, run by charter boards that report to an appointed authorizing body over which neither the public nor the state legislature has oversight authority.
  • They view the public the same way they view teachers’ due process rights:  obstacles to arbitrary management control.
  • They are bipartisan or, more accurately, a faction within both major parties.

James Madison description of a faction in Federalist #10 fits them very well:

“a number of citizens …, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”

Dear Fellow Washingtonians,

You will be voting on whether or not to authorize charter schools to operate in Washington State.  I thought I would share some details about charter operations from our experience in Washington, DC, where charters already enroll over 40% of our public school students.

I am a retired Washington, DC public high school social studies teacher. This past year, I have been working with community groups to stop the mayor and DCPS chancellor from closing or transferring to charters 37 public schools. Charters already enroll over 40% of our public school students.  .

Our public schools, especially our urban ones, desperately need improvement, but stigmatizing veteran teachers, stripping them of due process protections by giving control of the schools to self-promoters like Michelle Rhee or to charter operators has not improved our schools.  For more than 20 years, as a teacher, I have exposed mismanagement, including falsification of students’ grades, social promotion and graduation, bullying of teachers, toleration of disorderly student behavior, and undermining academic integrity by putting unprepared students in advanced classes, creation of “credit recovery” shortcuts to receive graduation credits, while refusing to provide students with viable vocational options.

In this letter, I describe how charter promoters and authorizers inflate standardized test results and graduation rates and, just like Ballot Initiative I-1240 intends to do, established an appointed “DC Public Charter School Board” (like the proposed “Washington State Charter School Commission,” “independent” of public oversight, but possessing discretionary authority over public education and facilities funds.  Finally, I appended excerpts from Ballot Initiative I-1240, followed by comments.

1.    Charter schools inflate standardized test results and graduation rates by transferring students with poor behavior and poor academic performance and who are more likely to drop out; therefore:

Charter Schools are Private Schools on the Public Dole.

Here is why:

Thurgood Marshall Public Charter School is a 4-year high school, located in Ward 8, Washington, DC’s poorest ward, and a favorite of the Walton Foundation and other foundations.

If you look at the total enrollment it appears to be a very stable school from year to year:

School year    Total Enrolled    Change

2006-2007        361

2007-2008        365            +  4

2008-2009        377            +12

2009-2010        390            +13

2010-2011        388            –   2

2011-2012        390            +  2

When one follows the enrollment numbers, broken down by color-coded grade 9 cohorts, it no longer appears stable (the colors allow one to follow each cohort from grade 9 to grade 12):

This school loses an average of 48.5 students in the 18 months between the grade 9 October enrollment audit and the April administration of the NCLB performance test, called DC CAS.

Over a five year period (2006-07 to 2010-11), all of the DC charter high schools dropped from their rolls an average of 730 students per cohort in the 18 months between the grade 9 enrollment audit and the grade 10 NCLB test, an annual average of 40% of their grade 9 enrollment.

Although publicly funded, charters act like private schools: They transfer students at any time.

How charter schools inflate their graduation rates and lower the rate of the regular public school:

Look at Thurgood Marshall’s (TM’s) grade 9 enrollment for 2007-08:  129 students.  By grade 12, the number had declined to 50.  TM reported 43 graduates to the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education (DC OSSE) and a 75.44% graduation  rate.  According to that rate, TM had a grade 9 cohort of 57 students (43/57 = 75.44%).  But there were 129 9th graders:  What happened to 72 students?  Why aren’t they reflected in the graduation rate?

They were transferred, most back to DCPS.  How can they do that, if they are “public” schools?

By fiat, they are pronounced to be “public schools,” entitled to public funding, but only the traditional public school remains the school system “of right.”  The local school district or LEA (Local Education Agency) remains the public school that every student has a right to attend (it’s called “school of right”).  Charter schools are NOT schools “of right.”  They can transfer students out at any time. The right to have the final say-so over who attends a school is the defining characteristic of a private school.

The strategy of the charters is to attract students by promising a safer and better academic environment.  By self-selection, it attracts the more engaged parents.  During the 9th grade year and early 10th grade year, the school determines which students it wants to keep and which ones will do poorly on the test and are in danger of dropping out.

Don’t students drop out of the regular public school?  Certainly.  When they drop out, they are still counted in the school’s cohort (denominator).  A student can only be removed from the denominator/ cohort, if he or she is transferred to another school and enrolled. The regular public school has no equivalent “default” LEA into which it can unload unwanted students.  Since charters are all in the same school zone as the regular public school, they can transfer at will.

After a student has been transferred to the LEA school of right, i.e. the “traditional” public school, he or she is removed from the cohort.  The US Department of Education introduced the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACJR) calculation with the graduating class of 2011.  It starts with the grade 9 enrollment, students transferring in are added; those transferring out are subtracted from the cohort.

When there are multiple LEAs in the same geographical district, but only one is required to enroll all students, the other LEAs have the privilege of cherry picking and then getting rid of students who don’t fit in.  That’s what they all do in DC, including much acclaimed KIPP.

The Grand Foundation Strategy:  Shift Public Policy Functions to semi-private, “independent” commissions or bodies that are accountable to a single high official (mayor or governor) and removed from oversight by city councils or state legislatures.

In Washington, DC, under mayoral control (since 2007), the mayor appoints with “advice and consent of the DC Council, the members of the DC Public Charter School Board, the charter school authorizing body and responsible for charter oversight. Once appointed, they function like an independent agency

On the Washington State Ballot Initiative I-1240, the WASHINGTON CHARTER SCHOOL COMMISSION is termed “an independent state agency,” whose 9 members are appointed 3 each by the Governor, House speaker, Senate president.  This is a pseudo-democratic scheme.  No commission members should be appointed without a public hearing before an elected body.

This would be a most unusual commission, whose members are not required to have a commitment to public education, but only to one questionable form of public education:  “All members shall have demonstrated an understanding of and commitment to charter schooling as a strategy for strengthening public education.”  That amounts to a de facto politicized requirement, a “charter test.”  That only shows how bold and confident the charter advocates are.

Erich Martel

Retired Washington, DC Public Schools Teacher (High School Social Studies, 1969-2011)

ehmartel@starpower.net

www.dcpswatch.com/martel

http://www.nonpartisaneducation.org/Review/Essays/v7n7.pdf

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Excerpts of Washington State Ballot Initiative I-1240

An analysis.

A charter school can be authorized by one of two bodies:

(vi)    Require public charter schools to be authorized and overseen by a state charter school commission, or by a local school board;

(vii)    Require that public charter schools receive funding based on student enrollment just like existing public schools;

(viii)    Allow public charter schools to be free from many regulations so that they have more flexibility to set curriculum and budgets, hire and fire teachers and staff, and offer more customized learning experiences for students; and

[[COMMENT:     Local schools determine funding, in part, on the costs of teachers’ salaries.  If charterS are funded at the same rate as local schools, but NOT obligated to pay the same salaries as the local teacher contract requires, then they will receive more appropriated funds.  Will those funds go to support school programs or administrators’ high salaries?]]

(5) “Charter school” or “public charter school” means a public school governed by a charter school board and operated according to the terms of a charter contract

(3). . .    Charter schools are not subject to and are exempt from all other state statutes and rules applicable to [public] school districts and school district boards of directors, for the purpose of allowing flexibility to innovate in areas such as . . .personnel, funding (i.e. pay).” Code Rev/SCG:crs 9 I-2563.1/12

[[COMMENTS:  This is the real purpose of the charter:  To blame teachers for poor student performance to justify “flexibility” in hiring, evaluation, teachers’ pay and principals’ pay.]]

NEW SECTION. Sec. 206. CHARTER SCHOOL STUDENTS.

(2)If a student who was previously enrolled in a charter school enrolls in another public school in the state, the student’s new school must accept credits earned by the student in the charter school in the same manner and according to the same criteria that credits are accepted from other public schools.

[[COMMENTS:  What is to prevent a charter school from transferring a student after the October enrollment audit, that establishes school funding, but before the April administration of the state test that is used to meet NCLB/RTTT requirements?

NEW SECTION. Sec. 207. AUTHORIZERS. The following entities are eligible to be authorizers of charter schools:

(1)    The Washington charter school commission established under section 208 of this act, for charter schools located anywhere in the state; and

(2)    School district boards of directors that have been approved by the state board of education under section 209 of this act before authorizing a charter school, for charter schools located within the school district’s own boundaries.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 208. WASHINGTON CHARTER SCHOOL COMMISSION.

(1)    The Washington charter school commission is established as an independent state agency whose mission is to authorize high quality;

(2)    The commission shall consist of nine members, no more than five of… the same political party. Three … appointed by the governor; three … by the president of the senate; and three … speaker of the house of representatives.

(3)    Members appointed to the commission shall collectively possess strong experience and expertise in public and nonprofit governance; management and finance; public school leadership, assessment, curriculum, and instruction; and public education law. All members shall have demonstrated an understanding of and commitment to charter schooling as a strategy for strengthening public education.

[[COMMENT:  This is the key to the chartering process and goals:  Establishment of a publicly appointed body, that, for all intents and purposes, can operate like a private corporation, all but immune from public and stakeholder accountability.

Even the option of local school board’s having charter authorization power is designed to give a quasi-democratic impression.  Most of the charters will be authorized by the commission.  They are probably already lined up to snatch all but a token handful of the 40 charters that can be authorized.]]

NEW SECTION. Sec. 209. AUTHORIZERS–APPROVAL. (1) The state board of education shall establish an annual application and approval process and timelines for entities seeking approval to be charter school authorizers. The initial process and timelines must be established no later than ninety days after the effective date of this section.

(2) At a minimum, each applicant must submit to the state board:

(a) The applicant’s strategic vision for chartering;

(b) A plan to support the vision presented, including explanation and evidence of the applicant’s budget and personnel capacity and commitment to execute the responsibilities of quality charter authorizing;

(c) A draft or preliminary outline of the request for proposals that the applicant would, if approved as an authorizer, issue to solicit charter school applicants;

(d) A draft of the performance framework that the applicant would, if approved as an authorizer, use to guide the establishment of a charter contract and for ongoing oversight and evaluation of charter schools;

[[COMMENT: Each charter authorizer can have a different set of criteria for a charter contract, oversight and evaluation?  By what set of standards will the state department of education oversee these different charter authorizers?

How effectively has the state department of education employed its oversight authority over the public school system so far?]]

 

Walmart Waltons: The movie

Why is this woman laughing?

Alice Walton has donated $1.7 M to Initiative 1240 which would privatize our schools. If the Waltons are going to determine educational policy in our state, we should at least get to know them better.

WAL-MART: THE HIGH COST OF LOW PRICE is a feature-length documentary that uncovers a retail giant’s assault on families and American values.

The film dives into the deeply personal stories and everyday lives of families and communities struggling to fight a goliath. A working mother is forced to turn to public assistance to provide healthcare for her two small children. A Missouri family loses its business after Wal-Mart is given over $2 million to open its doors down the road. A mayor struggles to equip his first responders after Wal-Mart pulls out and relocates just outside the city limits. A community in California unites, takes on the giant, and wins!

For more on the Walmart Waltons and their interest in education, see the Walmart 1% on Education.

By the way, did you know that the developer who just bought the Red Apple property at 23rd and Jackson in Seattle is considering a Walmart at that location?

Dora

Seattle Times Buries Info that is Critical of Initiative I-1240

Over at the Seattle-McKenna Times, the ‘copy editors’ continue to allow errors in the headlines of stories that contain negative viewpoints on I-1240, the pro-charter initiative its publishers support.

Take a look: The headline in yesterday’s Letters section about the charter school initiative(1240) erroneously lists the number for the legalizing marijuana initiative (502).

See: Initiative 502: Charter schools in Washington state

It’s hard to believe this is accidental. There are layers of editors and copy editors and the writers themselves who all could have and should have caught and corrected this.

This is particularly suspicious because the Times made a similar “mistake” just a week ago, on Oct. 23 when it ran a “typo” in the headline of one of the only anti-charter op-eds it has published (a solid article by Mari Taylor, vice president of the Washington State School Directors Association), calling them “charger” schools.

Even when readers called it out on the mistake, the Times only corrected the main headline, not the jump head which repeated the “typo” on the Comments page (and still has not corrected it as of today).

As I said in the Comments section, that was likely a tactic to prevent readers from being able to successfully Google and find that anti-charter op-ed and the over 200 related comments on its site.

This makes it all the more obvious that the Times publishers are rabidly pro-charter and have abrogated their Fourth Estate duties of providing real journalism to its (increasingly diminishing) readers.

And this further cements the Times’ reputation and primary value as hamster-cage liner.

Here’s yesterday’s “mistake”:

November 1, 2012 at 6:00 AM

Initiative 502: Charter schools in Washington state

Posted by Letters coordinator

No public-school funds for private-sector profits

Almost 40 years ago in 1974, I served as the first chair of the Group for Alternative Elementary School No. 2 because of my belief that U.S. public-school education builds better citizens. Our group successfully petitioned the Seattle School Board to approve our vision of a “school within a school.” AE II minimized costs by limiting the cost per pupil to no more than the district’s average and took full advantage of the school district’s existing professional administrative resources.

Now fully integrated into the Seattle Public Schools as Thornton Creek School, AE II’s original philosophy and approach to student learning still guide its operation. Also, this “charter school” is fully accountable to the duly elected Seattle School Board.

My wife and I are most proud of both of our now adult sons who benefited
immensely from attending AE II. This is why I’m opposed to siphoning off limited public-school funds for private-sector profits to operate charter schools and voted no on Initiative 1240.

— Jeff Finn, Bellevue

No money for new charter schools

I would like to respond to the TV ads and news articles encouraging voters to pass Initiative 1240, which allows the state to set up charter schools. I have taught for 10 years in Seattle Public Schools and would like to share the teacher’s concern of this issue.

Due to the lack of funding, schools have cut drug and student counselors, computer and life-skill classes and support personnel such as truancy and security officials and teachers’ aids. There is no money for new textbooks, causing some teachers to us other material, which must be copied so students in all classes can complete assignments with over 30 students in each class and five classes a day.

Many teachers work 10 to 12 hours a day to prepare for class and correct and record class work. Teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies and many take other jobs because their salaries do not meet their living expenses (we are underpaid).

I am sure Seattle is not the only district going through cuts like this. If Washington state cannot pay for the schools they already have, how will they pay for new charter schools?

— Patricia Mowbray, Lynnwood

Sue P.

Washington State charter school Initiative 1240 and the lack of accountability

Since 2007, OII ( U. S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement) has handed over $909,000,000 to state education agencies (SEAs) and others (non-SEAs) to open and run charter schools.  And true to the Wall Street philosophy of free and unrestricted greed, the OII has provided no oversight, no regulation, and almost no guidance for the hundreds of millions OII is shoveling to the corporate welfare kings who are operating these urban penal schools.

Jim Horn, Schools Matter

The proponents of Washington State’s charter school Initiative 1240 talk about how charter schools will be free of public oversight and regulations.

This is correct and because of that, parents and students will have no recourse in terms of what they might consider unfair treatment by a charter school. There will be no Seattle School Board Director to go to for advice or support, no district superintendent to go to, no State Representative to ask for help, not even the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction would be able to step in on the behalf of the student. Why? Because there would be no public oversight, just an appointed Charter School Commission that would answer only to the Governor and good luck with that, particularly if we get a Republican Governor.

Charter schools in various states have taken advantage of this financial free-for-all to the detriment of our students and with a tremendous loss of tax dollars.

Bill Horn at Schools Matter has broken down the Federal Department of Education’s report on the lack of oversight in three states that were chosen to be reviewed by the DOE. The state is to be responsible for oversight, not the Federal Government, so don’t expect the Feds to come up with many more of these reports, particularly because Gates and Broad have their people there, and they are probably not please with these results.

Now, on to Jim Horn’s article, TRACK ME!

When corporate education antiquarians reformers talk about the virtues of charter schools, high on their list is charter freedom from bureaucratic red tape and regulations that rule the “government” schools.  Without such restrictions, the story goes, charter schools are free to innovate, adapt to changing needs locally, and improve learning.  Sounds great, right?

What this means in reality is that charter school corporations, both nonprofit and for-profit, are unconstrained in opening schools in any discarded shell of a building, without libraries, gyms, art rooms, clinics, or any of the other humanizing elements we associate with public schools in the suburbs.   They are also without restraint in the way they hire and fire teachers without due process, unregulated in the way they deal with parents or keep their books, and most importantly, they are unregulated in the way they run these urban reform schools based on a 19th Century instructional model and an 18th Century behavioral catechism.

Children with special education plans (IEPs) are left without special education teachers, and children who cannot read are dumped into classes where all children are treated with the same distant disregard that the lockdown behavioral system requires.

I recently visited one of these chain gangs (location anonymous to protect the person who made my visit possible), where I found these same realities.  What impressed me first was the “library,” which was comprised of a single deserted cart, and not a book cart, of paperbacks in the most distant corner of the commons area on the first floor.

I saw classes run by TFA teachers who acted more like detached prison guards than teachers.  The closest they came to students was to sign their discipline forms that offenders carried from class to class. Their most obvious concern was a form of behavior that required total compliance, and in one class a sixth grader who could not read looked on as the over-animated TFAer expostulated on the vagaries of correlative conjunctions.  When a child’s attention strayed from the “teacher,” she responded with a sharp “TRACK ME!”.  All students snapped to attention in their seats, leaning forward slightly with hands folded, and staring intently at the teacher as she moved across the front of the room.

So while the students in these schools that no middle class parent would allow their children are doing lots of TRACKING, we find now what we knew all along:  no one, from the U. S, Dept. of Ed on down, is tracking the scammers and corporate welfare kings whose school businesses are draining public school coffers while effectively resegregating African-American children in corporate-run reform schools.  (Remember the $212,000,000 hole that will be created in Memphis during the next five years for the massive charter expansion?)

Yesterday a story emerged on a recent federal audit of the U. S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) run by corporate stooge, Jim Shelton.  In recent years the OII, which is directed by Gates and Broad, has gone all in on charters as the best tool for segregated corporatization of urban schools.  Since 2007, OII has handed over $909,000,000 to state education agencies (SEAs) and others (non-SEAs) to open and run charter schools.  And true to the Wall Street philosophy of free and unrestricted greed, the OII has provided no oversight, no regulation, and almost no guidance for the hundreds of millions OII is shoveling to the corporate welfare kings who are operating these urban penal schools. Click chart to enlarge

Below is the sobering summary of the OIG report findings, which will be presented in more detail in the coming days.  You may download the report here.

We determined that OII did not effectively oversee and monitor the Charter School Program grantees and did not have an adequate process to ensure SEAs conducted effective oversight and monitoring over subgrantees. Specifically, OII did not have an adequate corrective action plan process in place to ensure grantees were correcting deficiencies noted in annual monitoring reports, did not have a risk-based approach for selecting non-SEA grantees for monitoring, and did not adequately review SEA and non-SEA grantees’ fiscal activities. We also found that OII did not provide the SEAs with adequate guidance on the monitoring activities they were to conduct in order to comply with applicable Federal laws and regulations. In addition, OII did not ensure SEAs developed and implemented adequate monitoring procedures for properly handling a charter school closure. Specifically, OII did not ensure SEAs had procedures to properly account for SEA grant funds spent by closed charter schools and disposition of assets purchased with SEA grant funds in accordance with Federal regulations (p. 9).

Today Jim Horn published the second part in his series on public oversight or rather, the lack thereof, for charter schools. To follow is an excerpt from:

Finding 1: OII Did Not Conduct Effective Oversight of Grantees Receiving Charter School Grants

The OIG examined records in three states: Florida, California, and Arizona.  Amounts of grants below:

FINDING NO. 1 – OII Did Not Conduct Effective Oversight of Grantees Receiving the SEA and Non-SEA Grants.

OII did not conduct effective oversight of SEAs [State Education Agencies] and charter schools receiving the SEA and non-SEA grants.  Specifically, we found that OII did not

· require that grantees and subgrantees develop corrective action plans to address monitoring issues and deficiencies identified,

· have a risk-based approach for selecting non-SEA grantees for monitoring, or

· adequately review SEA and non-SEA grantees’ fiscal activities.

Lack of an Adequate Corrective Action Plan Process

OII did not require that grantees and subgrantees develop corrective action plans to address monitoring issues and deficiencies identified in WestEd’s monitoring reports. This occurred because OII did not have policies and procedures in place to ensure grantees corrected deficiencies noted in monitoring reports. In addition, OII did not follow up effectively on issues identified in monitoring reports. OII did not take any alternative means to ensure corrective action took place, such as including followup activities in the WestEd contract if OII did not have adequate resources to perform this function itself. As a result, OII was unaware of whether grantees and subgrantees took corrective actions to address issues that WestEd identified in its monitoring reports. . . . .

Florida Monitoring Report

The Florida SEA’s first monitoring report, issued in November 2008, identified many serious deficiencies that were similar to issues we identified during our audit (Finding No. 2). OII made its only documented follow-up phone call to the Florida SEA in April 2011 (29 months later), regarding the deficiencies noted in the monitoring report. According to OII’s documentation, all deficiencies noted in the 2008 monitoring report were deemed “resolved” without any supporting documentation. Since our audit work identified issues similar to the deficiencies WestEd identified in 2008, we concluded that OII’s determination that all identified deficiencies were resolved was not accurate. Both WestEd and our audit noted that Florida left most subgrantee monitoring to the LEAs. Further, OII’s follow-up phone call process was not effective for ensuring deficiencies identified in WestEd’s monitoring reports were correctly resolved.

In addition, by the time OII made its documented followup phone call to the Florida SEA to address deficiencies identified in 2008, WestEd had already conducted its second monitoring visit of the Florida SEA in February 2011. In fact, according to OII documentation, WestEd’s February 2011 monitoring visit was mentioned during that followup phone call. WestEd went on to issue its second report in July 2011. We concluded that OII waited for WestEd to conduct its second monitoring visit of Florida, almost 3 years after the first one was conducted, before following up with deficiencies noted on the first monitoring report. The revisit monitoring report did not note any serious deficiencies in Florida, finding that “Florida has demonstrated the necessary program management and fiscal controls to meet the application’s objectives.” Our audit work in the Florida SEA found the contrary.. . . .

For recipients of the non-SEA grant, we reviewed charter schools in Arizona that received the non-SEA grant during the fiscal years 2007–2010. Of the 17 charter schools in Arizona that received the non-SEA grant during the fiscal years 2007–2010, 11 received WestEd monitoring visits. We examined the monitoring reports for all 11 charter schools as part of our audit. For the 11 monitoring reports we examined, OII could not provide support for any corrective actions to rectify the significant deficiencies noted. Significant deficiencies WestEd noted in its monitoring reports of these 11 charter schools included:

(1) Federal definition of a charter school was not met;

(2) parents and other members of the community were not involved in the planning, design, and implementation of the school;

(3) lack of a high‐quality strategy for assessing the achievement of the non-SEA grant objectives;

(4) uses of Charter School Program funds were not allowable, allocatable, and reasonable;

(5) lack of fiscal control and fund accounting procedures; and

(6) financial and programmatic records related to the Charter School Program funds were not adequately maintained.

OII did not have documentation in its files to support adequate follow-up to the non-SEA charter school grantees.

OII did not require any of the charter schools to develop corrective action plans in response to the WestEd monitoring reports. OII did not implement an adequate corrective action plan for SEA or non-SEA grantees to ensure they corrected instances of noncompliance noted in the WestEd monitoring reports. OII stated that, for SEA grant recipients, it was the SEA’s responsibility to verify whether its subgrantees complied with applicable laws and regulations. OII’s use of follow-up phone calls to grantees did not ensure the grantees would resolve significant deficiencies identified in WestEd monitoring reports in a reasonable amount of time.. . . .

OII did not review SEA and non-SEA grantees’ fiscal activities as part of its monitoring activities. Specifically, OII could not provide evidence that grantee’s expenditure information was reviewed as required by the Department’s “Handbook for the Discretionary Grant Process,” . . .

For the three SEA grantees we reviewed, OII could not provide evidence that it reviewed expenditure information using the Department’s grants management system (G5) as required.7 OII officials stated that they reconciled expenditures with G5 annually; however, we could not find adequate evidence in the SEA grantee folders that OII performed this activity. The OII Charter School Division director stated that OII needed to improve their process for collecting and reconciling expenditures with information in the G5 system.

For the 11 non-SEA grantees we reviewed, OII could not provide evidence that it reviewed expenditure information using the G5 system as required. . . . .

Because OII did not (1) require that grantees and subgrantees develop corrective action plans to address monitoring issues and deficiencies, (2) have a risk-based approach for selecting non- SEA grantees for monitoring, and (3) adequately monitor fiscal activities, there is a heightened risk that grantees were not fully complying with program goals and objectives as well as Federal laws and regulations. As a result, there is increased risk that Department funds were not used for the intent and purpose of the program.

For the full post, go to Schools Matter.

What would charter school Initiative 1240 mean for Catholic schools?

This post was provided by a guest columnist.

Some Questions & Answers About This Initiative

Q: What would happen to Catholic schools in Washington State if I-1240 passes?

A: No one knows for certain. But Catholic school enrollment has significantly declined in every other state that has approved charters. In many states, the number of Catholic schools are less than 50% of what they were before charters were legally permitted. In many states, it’s very common for charters to move into the building vacated by a closed Catholic school.

See Rising charter school enrollment seen as challenge for Catholic schools.

Q: Why would charters threaten Catholic schools? Haven’t public schools and Catholic schools “peacefully coexisted” within the same community for years without any issues?

A: Traditional public schools have always existed in the same community, without any issues, alongside Catholic schools. But Charters are different. Charters are only “public” schools when it comes to their funding. Their teachers, principal and staff are almost always provided by privately owned and operated charter management companies.

These private, charter management companies are usually very aggressive in “marketing and selling” their “brand new, tuition-free school” to any and all prospective “customers” in the area. And they are especially focused on contacting Catholic school parents, who they see as a “prime market”.

Q: What happens when a charter is opened in an area that also has an established Catholic school?

A: When a charter announces its opening, it blankets the area with flyers and posters and postcards promising to provide a rigorous, college preparatory education for free. “For free” matters, particularly to any family facing even a minor economic challenge. It is not difficult to understand why charters would drive Catholic schools out of business–sometimes very quickly.

See Parochial schools feel pinch.

Q: Do we have any examples of where and when charters have threatened or hurt Catholic schools?

A: Almost everywhere charters have been permitted, without exception, Catholic schools have lost significant numbers of students. Nationally, Catholic school enrollment is down 23% in the last decade, after RISING by 20,000 students, or 0.8 %, between 1990 and 2000.

One example: In New York State, Catholic school enrollment (K-12) is down 96,000 students, or 35%, in the last decade. If one focuses on K-8 enrollment, the decline in Catholic school enrollment is down by more than 43%.

Q: How credible is this information? Is there a study about charters and Catholic school enrollment that we can read on our own, without having to rely on your possibly biased and selective interpretation?

A: Yes. A new study says that for every charter that opens, a Catholic school closes.

The author, Abraham Lackman, who worked for the New York state senate when it passed the first charter law in 1998, said that no one anticipated that charters would drain students from Catholic schools, but his study shows that is exactly what has happened. Lackman also says that charters are not as good as Catholic schools and cost New York state additional millions of dollars.

See The Collapse of Catholic School Enrollment: Dissecting the Causes

Diane Ravitch, a former Undersecretary in the federal Department of Education, provides a good overview of this entire discussion. See Charter Schools Vs. Catholic Schools

Q: Where can I find out more general information on Initiative 1240?

A: You can learn more about Initiative 1240, and the risks it holds for all Washington citizens, particularly those with children in either Catholic or public schools at People for Our Public Schools  or   No on 1240 or by calling “People for Our Public Schools” at 206-545-1240.

The No on Initiative 1240 campaign needs YOU

From the No on Initiative 1240 campaign:

Last week an unprecedented 20,000 Washington voters joined a state wide conference call to learn about the damaging effect I-1240 would have on our public schools.

Despite a $9 million advertising blitz in support of I-1240, an overwhelming majority of voters on the call said that they preferred reducing classroom size over funding charter schools. By a whopping 3 to 1 margin voters also said they opposed using taxpayer money to fund privately run schools.

With only 6 days left we need your help today to make more calls and get our message out. If you can help, please click here.

Voters understand what’s at stake. During the question and answer portion of the meeting voters expressed concern about I-1240 charter schools taking away local school levy funds and asked why voters have rejected charter schools three times in the past.

Our challenge is reaching more voters with our message and getting them to cast their ballots. Please help with a contribution of $50, $100 or $200 today (click here).

This is our last chance. Ballots are in hand, pens are poised, and some people are still unsure how to vote.

Let’s give them the information they need to make an informed decision on the damaging prospects of Initiative 1240.  The undemocratic and unelected board in Olympia, and the uncertainties and instability involved with the charter conversion provision, the divisive and unfair lottery.  They need to know!

Help People for Our Public Schools reach voters this week and tell them to vote NO on I-1240!

1. Phonebank – THIS WEEK, Tuesday Oct 30th, Thursday Nov 1 and Monday Nov 5th from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., as well as from 3:00-8:00 p.m. on Sunday Nov 4th at our office in Seattle, 1914 N. 34th Street, Suite 209.  Call (206) 545-1240 to RSVP. Or pick up a phone list and call from home.

Give of your time: Commit to 3 hours of phone time. Of all contact we could make with a voter – paid ads, mail, robo calls – the most compelling, by far, is a personal call from you. Please, give us just 3 hours this week.

2. Doorbelling – This final WEEKEND we will meet in South Park at 9:45 a.m. Sat Nov 3, two shifts: 10:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.  Please RSVP by replying to this email. Call (206) 853-7594 that day with questions. Meet us at Via Vadi Cafe 8600 14th Avenue South Seattle, WA 98108.

3. Signs – There are still signs left. Please come by our office to get one. Phone ahead: (206) 545-1240.

4. Donate to the campaign – It isn’t too late to make a difference. Every penny counts!

Make a contribution: Give what you can. But we need contributions in today so we can put your donations to work.

5. Spread the Word – Tell your friends on Facebook & Twitter to Vote NO on I-1240 with the links below.

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

VOTE NO ON 1240!

On behalf of People for Our Public Schools, thank you!

Sue Tupper

Campaign Manager

www.peopleforourpublicschools.org

Vote NO! on 1240. Vote by Nov. 6.

Maybe Representative Reuven Carlyle will reconsider his stand on Initiative 1240

The 36th Legislative District Democrats voted overwhelmingly in favor of opposing Initiative 1240 in a vote held this month. Unfortunately Representative Reuven Carlyle is not on the same page as his constituents.

Maybe when he realizes that even his children’s schools could be converted into charter schools without his knowledge he might change his mind.

Maybe when he understands what schools like KIPP are all about, he might change his mind. See Bay Area KIPP schools lose 60% of their students, study confirms and Study Finds High Dropout Rates for Black Males in KIPP Schools,  regarding IEP students, “At KIPP, I would wake up sick, every single day”,  and Myths and realities about KIPP.

Maybe when he realizes that those “non-profit” charter schools are run by for-profit Educational Management Organizations (EMO’s), he might change his mind. Also see: Charter School Industry Running Amok in Florida with Taxpayer Dollars and the League of Women Voters’ policy paper Subcontracting Public Education for additional information on EMO’s.

Maybe, when he understands that as much as he might like to “oversee” what’s  going on at charter schools, his voice would count for as much as anyone else’s in the public, that is, not much, he might change his mind.

Just how much say do you think Carlyle would have with a Charter School Commission of privatization devotees politically appointed who answer to no one but the Governor? Which also begs the question, just how much time does a governor have to oversee the details of any board?

To follow is a letter that was sent to Representative Reuven Carlyle by several of his constituents. Hopefully he will take heed.

October 19, 2012

Dear Reuven,

As citizens of the 36th District, we are asking you to stand with the overwhelming majority of your constituents and endorse a no vote on Initiative 1240.

Regardless of your personal beliefs about education, this is NOT a debate about the concept of charter schools. This is about a specific ballot measure: Initiative 1240.

Initiative 1240 is very risky and dangerous. Its passage would be equivalent to gambling with our schools and our students.

We feel that this is too vital an issue at a very critical time for public education. Being “uncommitted” in these circumstances is the same as qualified or tacit support of the other side.

As our state representative, we need your leadership, your courage and your unequivocal support. We’re counting on you to stand with us, your constituents, on their behalf.

Initiative 1240 would pull dollars out of our existing schools and hand them over to competing interests to open charter schools, with little or no accountability.

It would also allow for 51% of the current parents at a school, or 51% of the current teachers at a school, to secretly circulate a petition to “trigger” a takeover of that school. At no point do they have to reveal what they’re doing and there is nothing to prevent a private, for-profit company from initiating this action, in an attempt to take control of any school of their choosing.

And this “trigger” would apply to every single school in our state—regardless of its standing or the academic record of its students. Were you aware of this? And if so, why would you endorse it?

In other states, competing interests have opened charters that have weakened and defunded existing public schools, often causing serious rifts within school communities that hurt students, parents and teachers. Is this what you want for Washington?

The United States has now had charters for over 20 years—and there are more than 5,000 standing today. If charters provided some clear measure of education superiority, in any category, that trend would have been obvious by now. However, after two decades of charter experiments, despite the hyperbole of their backers, they have demonstrated exactly the opposite.

Contrary to the image that has often appeared in the media, based primarily on biased anecdotes, charters are, at best, a risky proposition with a mostly negative record. According to the widely respected CREDO Study—conducted by researchers favorably inclined towards charters—from Stanford University, charters are more likely to provide worse educational outcomes for the students they serve. Subsequent studies continue to affirm CREDO’s findings.

Here are just five of the many reasons why Initiative 1240 would be an absolute disaster for our state’s education system:

1) Initiative 1240 will drain money from our existing schools:  Our schools are already struggling. We don’t even have enough money to meet the current needs of our schools. Bringing 40 charters into our state, to compete for these same, already inadequate funds, is absolutely irresponsible. It would only make school finances that much worse.

Do you really believe that we can operate all existing schools AND open up 40 news ones, using the same pot of money, with no fiscal impact or decline?

2) Initiative 1240 establishes a new, duplicate bureaucracy and is likely unconstitutional:  If Initiative 1240 passes we’ll be paying more to receive less. It will set up two separate educational systems, adding a new state bureaucracy and new costs for all taxpayers—and there are serious doubts about its constitutionality.

We believe that it would be better to retain just one, constitutionally sanctioned, state education system, and work within it to improve all of our schools.

3) Initiative 1240 lacks accountability to parents and taxpayers: Initiative 1240 fails to provide citizen and parent involvement and oversight. This is the main reason the Washington State PTA is against it, even though they previously gave certain types of charters a qualified, limited endorsement.

4) Initiative 1240 lacks charter authorizer oversight: Initiative 1240 technically restricts charter authorizers to the charter commission or a school board. However, authorizers are also free to contract out their duties to anyone. Such laws have led to widespread corruption and waste in other states and would enhance the potential for unethical behavior and very clear conflicts of interest.

And when a sanctioned authorizer approves a conversion of an existing public school into a charter, it will inevitably do great harm to that public school and its entire district.

In such a case, the new charter will receive all of the revenue previously received by the public school. But it will pay absolutely no rent to the district for the school building it now occupies. Yet, the district will still be 100% responsible for all building maintenance and major capital improvements.

5) Initiative 1240 would impose the most extreme “Trigger” in history: Arguably the worst part of Initiative 1240 is a dangerous experiment usually referred to as a “Parent Trigger” or “Conversion Trigger”. This “trigger” would allow just 51% of any school’s parents or just 51% of any school’s teachers to immediately convert it to a charter.

Even more concerning, Initiative 1240 does not require any public notice to parents or teachers that a charter conversion petition is being circulated! The first time students or parents or teachers hear about this conversion might be after the fact, when they can no longer do anything to stop it.

In every one of the four states that now allow a “trigger”, they can only be used by “failing schools”. However, the “trigger” within Initiative 1240 would be the first that could be used by any school, no matter how high or low achieving.

This is insanity. And it threatens the existence of every single school in our state. We certainly hope that you do not support it.

In summary, Initiative 1240 isn’t a minor piece of legislation, or a small trimming around the edges. It is an attempt to impose radical changes on a public education system that, while imperfect, has served our state well for 150 years. It is extremely risky with no clear benefit.

On an issue this important, we need to know where all three of our legislators stand.  We need you to take a stand on Initiative 1240 and make a public endorsement against it.

The 36th District Democrats voted overwhelming against Initiative 1240. The Washington State Democrats voted against it 500 to 0. The Seattle School Board voted 7-0 to oppose it, and its members were then joined in their opposition by Seattle Superintendent Jose Banda and State Superintendent, Randy Dorn.

There are times in history where those who hold the public trust must stand up and be counted. In such periods, “neutrality” is not acceptable. This is one of those periods. Given the exigent and serious threat that Initiative 1240 holds for our schools, non-commitment is an abdication of duty and an implicit endorsement of the forces hostile to the very concept of public education.

The stakes are too high to remain detached or indifferent. Years from now, when we look back at this period, the record will show who did the right thing and had the fortitude to oppose Initiative 1240 at a “make or break” time for our children and our public schools.

We are happy to meet with you and discuss this issue directly. We will do whatever is needed to enhance your understanding of Initiative 1240 and secure your commitment to our students.

Thank you, Reuven, for your time and consideration. We look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Sincerely,