Last fall voters lifted the ban on charter schools, making Washington the 42nd state in the nation to provide a charter school choice to parents. In approving Initiative 1240, voters passed one of the strongest charter school laws in the country. Now that this law is being implemented, engaged parents hoping to open charter schools are emerging all over the state. One such group comes from Sunnyside, Washington, a small agricultural community in eastern Washington.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn has just released his calculation of how much he wants to give charter schools and their students when these popular, voter-approved schools open next fall. As many of my readers will recall, Superintendent Dorn opposed allowing children in Washington state to attend charter schools.
Today the Washington State Charter School Commission launched its charter school application process. The Commission invited communities and charter school pioneers to file their charter school applications. See the Commission's Request for Proposals, available here.
On Saturday, Lynne Varner of The Seattle Times wrote an informative editorial about Rainier Beach High, a Seattle school that serves mostly poor and minority students. Varner notes something remarkable:
“Rainier Beach successfully persuaded the Seattle School District to exempt it from forced teacher placements.”
Today, in Yakima, the State Board of Education unanimously voted to give Spokane Public Schools the authority to open charter schools. With this vote, Spokane Public Schools, Washington state's second-largest district, of 28,000 students, will become the first district in the state to offer parents a charter school choice.
Yesterday Governor Inslee launched a new initiative, Results Washington, the latest announcement by a governor to improve state government and the public schools. Governors Gary Locke and Christine Gregoire tried similar initiatives.
Today, Rick Hess at National Review Online writes a great article drawing the battle lines in education reform. On one side are voices like Diane Ravitch, whose new book attacks school reformers for supporting school choice, accountability, merit pay and greater respect for parents' role in the education of their children. On the other side are caring school reformers, of both parties, alike, who have signed on to well-
Last night, executives at Seattle's powerful teachers union decided to back away from their threatened strike action and allow Seattle's 50,000 public school children to attend classes on time. Over the Labor Day weekend parents across the city had been making alternative child care arrangements in case the union followed through on plans to close schools to students.
The union and District officials settled on a two-year contract agreement. I have just finished reading the new agreement. Here are its key terms:
This morning, Linda Shaw of The Seattle Times provides an informative report on the threatened Seattle schools strike by union executives over contract negotiations with the school district. One of the issues in contention is the cost of teacher compensation, described as follows:
“Under the school district’s offer, she said [School Board member Shelley Carr], Seattle teachers would remain some of the most highly paid in the state.”
Today the New York Times reports that charter school teachers are younger, on average, than traditional school teachers. While charter school teachers have an average of two to five years experience, teachers in traditional schools have close to an average of 14 years experience.
Charter schools see the youth of their teachers as a desirable quality.
Yesterday, the news broke that the U.S. Department of Education meant what it said last summer, when it told Washington state to rewrite its teacher/principal evaluation bill, SB 5896. Because lawmakers did not do so, the federal government has now declared Washington’s one-year waiver from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements at “high risk” of not being renewed.
I said it last summer, and I’ll say it again. The federal government has a lot of nerve.