Lfinne

The latest on First Place Scholars Charter School

December 15, 2014 in Blog

This two-and-a-half minute report from KOMO News radio gives a good overview of what’s happening at First Place Scholars Charter School in Seattle.  It also includes my comments about the advantage charter schools have in turning things around quickly to improve learning from students, improvements that are difficult, or never attempted, at many failing traditional public schools.

Seattle Times story shows charter school law is working

December 10, 2014 in Blog

A front-page story in The Seattle Times by Leah Todd reports on troubles at First Place Scholars Charter School, the headline saying the school is in “disarray” over recent leadership changes.  Yet the details of the story show that Washington’s best-in-the-nation charter school law is working as intended.

Does Washington rank 41st, 30th, 22nd or 6th in education? It depends on how you count

December 4, 2014 in Blog

As lawmakers prepare for the upcoming legislative session in Olympia, there is a lot of debate about where our state ranks in education spending.  As an analyst, I know this all depends on what metric a lawmaker uses, and the metric chosen often depends on whether the lawmaker wants to increase taxes.  A poor ranking makes it appear that more spending and a heavier tax burden are urgently needed.

WEA union sees declining influence in recent election

November 18, 2014 in Blog

It has been widely reported that Democrats lost the recent mid-term election, but less noticed is that voters also delivered a series of defeats to executives at the Washington Education Association (WEA) union.

Justices receive political contributions from lead party in charter school lawsuit

October 31, 2014 in Blog

New research finds that some justices on the state supreme court have received political contributions from a lead party in a key lawsuit now before the court.

Parties in the case, League of Women Voters, Washington Education Association, et al vs State of Washington, are asking the court to strike down Washington’s charter school law, passed by voters in 2012, and bar children from attending a charter public school. 

Teacher cuts at Garfield High shows why families need more school choices

October 27, 2014 in Blog

Nine weeks after classes started, students at Garfield High School in Seattle learned last week that they will be losing one of their teachers.

Administrators at the state’s largest school district, overseen by Board President Sharon Peaslee and six other board members, informed Garfield and five other local schools they planned to take away one of their teachers.

The surprising and growing opposition to Initiative 1351

October 22, 2014 in Blog

It’s widely assumed that Initiative 1351, the ballot measure that purports to reduce class sizes, will pass by a wide margin.  The initiative title has bumper-sticker attractiveness, it faces no organized opposition, and executives at the powerful WEA and other unions are putting $3.5 million of their members’ dues money behind it. (In Washington, teachers must pay the union as a condition of employment.) 

Initiative 1351 is like voting for puppies and apple pie

October 21, 2014 in Blog

Backers of Initiative 1351 are asking voters to support reduced class sizes without providing a way to pay for it.  Smaller class sizes without higher taxes – who wouldn’t be for that?  As one skeptic quipped, it’s like asking people to vote for puppies and apple pie. 

Why Initiative 1351 will not improve learning for school children

October 15, 2014 in Blog

Initiative 1351, the ballot measure on class sizes, will bring new profits to the powerful WEA union because all new teachers will be forced to pay about $1,000 a year in dues as a condition of employment.  Overall the measure represents a $7.4 million windfall for the union, every year.

At the same time, I-1351 would do little to improve learning for Washington’s school children. 

Here’s why:

Democratic party statement wrong about Initiative 1351 endorsements

October 15, 2014 in Blog

A statement released Saturday by the Washington state Democratic Party falsely describes the political support behind Initiative 1351, the unfunded ballot measure intended to reduce class sizes.

The statement says “As Democrats, we are united” in supporting strong schools and educational opportunities then adds in bold lettering,  “That’s why Democrats support Initiative 1351 to reduce class size for every child, in every grade.”

Charter School Commission rejects three of four applications – rejections fall hardest on Hispanic families

October 13, 2014 in Blog

Last week in Yakima, in the second round of charter school applications, the Washington State Charter School Commission approved only one new school and rejected three others. Here are the actions Commissioners took:

State Charter School Commission to decide on new applications tomorrow

October 8, 2014 in Blog

Washington’s charter school law, one of the best in the country, is working as the voters intended when they passed Initiative 1240 in 2012.  The state Charter School Commission has approved seven new schools to open their doors to students this year and next, and officials at the Spokane School District have approved a charter school to serve the city’s low-income families.  The state’s first charter school, First Place Scholars, opened in September in Seattle’s Central District, helping homeless and low-income children gain access to a good public education.

How schools can reduce class sizes without increasing taxes

October 7, 2014 in Blog

A lot of false claims are being made these days about school funding and class sizes. Supporters of Initiative 1351, the class-size reduction initiative, say Washington’s schools do not have enough adults on staff to provide smaller class sizes. They want to increase the number adults paid by public schools by creating 25,561 new staff positions.

More Democrats voice opposition to WEA union initiative

October 1, 2014 in Blog

In a growing trend, more Democrats are expressing doubt and skepticism about Initiative 1351, the class size reduction initiative put on the November ballot by executives at the powerful teachers union, the Washington Education Association (WEA).

Citizens Guide to Initiative 1351: To Reduce Class Sizes

September 25, 2014 in Blog

To help voters understand the class size reduction initiative on the November ballot, Washington Policy Center has just published a new study, “Citizens Guide to Initiative 1351: To Reduce Class Sizes.”