As the days grow shorter and the nights grow cooler, families across Washington prepare for a yearly ritual, getting kids ready to go back to school. And too many families have to prepare for a different ritual – when a union-led teacher strike hits their local school.
As predictably as the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano, teacher strikes close schools in parts of Washington each year with depressing regularity.
Eight new charter public schools are opening this fall in Seattle, Tacoma, Kent, Highline and Spokane. Together the schools will serve more than 1,300 students. The schools are authorized under a state law approved by voters in 2012 to provide expanded educational opportunities for children, especially those from low-income families and underserved communities.
Parents like Tam Nguyen, mother of a 5th grade boy, and Natalie Hester Johnson, whose daughter is entering high school, say they asked “tons of questions” before enrolling their children in a charter school.
Over Memorial Day, as most people were distracted by holiday plans, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn was working to burden charter schools and their families with 119 pages of new rules.
Today the state Attorney General filed the state’s answer to Superintendent Randy Dorn’s brief to the state Supreme Court in the McCleary case, adding to the post-legislative-session reports to the Court about school funding. The AG sharply criticizes the Superintendent’s plan to shut down government, pointing out Dorn’s plan would cause children to go hungry:
In a recent Facebook post, education policy leader Rep. Chad Magendanz (R-Issaquah) noted that state supreme court justices may soon decide to impose a punishment on him and fellow lawmakers for failing to fund public schools. He asks readers, “What do you feel might be appropriate sanctions for the Court to impose at this point?”
Chris Vance, who works for Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, has a commentary today at Crosscut on the legislature’s alleged shortcomings in funding public education. The commentary has bi-partisan roots – Dorn is a Democrat, and Vance is a former Republican state party chairman.
Reporter Gwen Davis at the Madison Park Times has been talking to parents about the new charter schools opening this fall. She provides this informative report, “Charter schools about choice in education, parents say,” on what she found out.
Completion of this year’s legislative session is on hold for the moment, and the just-completed 2015-17 state budget faces a $2 billion hole, because of a late-breaking dispute over funding for Initiative 1351, the class-size reduction initiative.
Yesterday, after 165 days of discussion and negotiation, lawmakers in Olympia reached agreement on a state budget for 2015-17. The new budget will increase spending on K-12 public schools from the current $15.26 billion to $18.15 billion, an increase of 19%. Lawmakers achieved this large rise in spending with the natural increase in current revenues, without imposing new taxes on Washington families and business owners.
After months of suspense and threats of closure, members of the state Charter School Commission narrowly voted Thursday to allow First Place Scholars charter school, located in Seattle’s Central District, to continue operations. The school serves some 75 low-income and homeless families, including a number of special needs children, who otherwise would have difficulty gaining access to a quality public education.