Recently the people of Washington enacted the most significant advance in education reform our state has seen in 30 years, Initiative 1240, to allow 40 charter schools to open over five years. Charter schools are independent community-based public schools that are popular with parents. They have been successful in helping some the hardest-to-teach students get a good public education. Nationally over two million students attend 6,200 charter schools, with another 600,000 children on waiting lists.
On March 4, the House amended the Senate supplemental budget bill, SB 6002, to add a $51.2 million appropriation to be sent to school districts as a teacher Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). The Senate-passed budget does not make this appropriation, so budget negotiators in Olympia will have to hammer out this and other differences before the session ends next week.
Economists at the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University in Boston have responded to Rep. Ross Hunter’s recent criticism of their economic model. The model analyzed the impact on Washington residents of Superintendent Dorn’s proposal to increase the state sales tax and state property taxes. Economic results show that Superintendent Dorn’s plan to increase taxes by $7.5 billion would hurt working families and weaken the economy by costing 18,500 jobs. Rep. Hunter dismissed the finding as “unlikely to say anything interesting” and “not trustworthy.”
Over at Cross Cutyesterday, John Stang provides a description of the Senate’s proposed supplemental budget. His reporting suggests teachers will not be receiving pay increases, noting “Sorry,Teachers,” and “no cost-of-living raise for teachers.”
By describing just one type of teacher pay increase, the Cost of Living Adjustment, the article gives the impression that teachers haven’t received any pay increases.
Yesterday, at West Seattle’s Bethaday Community Center, I attended an important meeting of the Washington State Charter School Commission. At this historic meeting the Commission approved the first charter schools that will open their doors to students, since voters repealed the state’s charter school ban in 2012.
Educators at First Place School have applied to open a public charter school in Seattle under Washington’s voter-approved charter school law. In November 2012, Washington became the 42nd state to authorize the popular independent public schools.
Wednesday evening I attended a public forum in Renton to hear the proposals of three charter school applicants. More than 350 people showed up during the course of the evening, with standing-room-only the first hour. Immigrant, low-income, middle-income and upper-income parents testified they hoped their children could attend one of the three proposed charter schools.
House Bill 2133, sponsored by Representative Elizabeth Scott (R-Monroe) and Representative Gerry Pollet (D-Seattle), would require the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) to prepare a report showing how the following agreements and laws require or permit the sharing of personally identifiable student data or student-level data from Washington state students, without the written consent of students or their parents or guardians:
Today, Washington’s supreme court judges issued a court order that proposes education budgets for the school years 2014-18. The judges gave only passing recognition to lawmakers and taxpayers for already adding $1.6 billion to public school spending, for a total of $15.2 billion, compared to the last state education budget.
Two days ago the Washington Postpublished a map of the states showing average teacher pay in the 50 states. The map reports teachers in Washington state receive an average estimated salary of only $53,571.
On Tuesday, the Majority Coalition Caucus held a press conference to announce their plans for the 2014 Legislative Session. When a reporter asked what plan A is for the Majority Coalition Caucus, Senator Tom said:
This morning Judge Jean Rietschel upheld Initiative 1240, the voters’ charter school law, clearing the way for Washington’s first charter schools to open next fall. Her ruling rejects claims made by Washington Education Association, the state teachers union, and the League of Women Voters, that Initiative 1240 violates the state constitution.