Yesterday, Dick Nelson of Crosscut, an online newspaper, posted an article about education reform groups supported by business in Washington state. The article attracted an excellent comment from Kate Martin, which you can read in full here (see fifth comment down, labeled "Editor's Pick).
Saturday afternoon the Initiative 1240 campaign announced that voters have approved the charter school measure. Opponents refuse to concede until every vote is counted, but this morning the Secretary of State’s website shows that with 91% of the vote counted, Yes votes exceed No votes by 44,193, gaining over the numbers reported on Saturday.
If Initiative 1240 passes tomorrow, education entrepreneurs will be able to use the charter school model to develop authentically innovative ways to motivate and educate high-school students. One great example of a new idea in education is PTech High charter school, which opened in New York City on September 8, 2011 with a class of ninth- graders. The school will run for six years, from grade nine to grade 14.
There’s a joke among policy researchers that if you can’t find the numbers to support your conclusion just make some up. 642 sounds nice. 432,396 looks impressive in many cases. How about 100 million? Now that’s a nice round number.
But it’s distressing when the invent-a-number game goes beyond humor and is used in the public debate over serious issues, like whether Initiative 1240 to allow charter schools would help struggling school children.
The official Voters Guide to Initiative 1240, the charter school initiative, is worrying some voters that passing this measure will lead to a tax increase. This is not an unreasonable fear, but the fact is that Initiative 1240 would not require a tax increase.
Last Monday night, over 1,600 people in Bellevue and Spokane attended Washington Policy Center’s annual dinner. At the dinner we gave our 2012 Champion of Freedom award to the four prime co-sponsors of last session's charter school bill: Representative Eric Pettigrew (D-Seattle), Representative Glenn Anderson (R-Fall City), Senator Rodney Tom (D-Bellevue) and Senator Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island).
Tonight the Seattle School Board will decide on a resolution against Initiative 1240, the charter school measure, which polls show voters are likely to pass in November. Unfortunately, the Seattle School Board is likely to pass this resolution. This Board has shown an unwillingness to consider innovative changes to the way schools are run, and it strongly opposes any threat to its top-down, central power over the 93 schools in the district.
On Wednesday, Seattle Times education reporter Linda Shaw wrote an informative piece about the Technology Access Foundation Academy (TAF), a special school in Federal Way that produces good results in preparing minority students for careers in math, science and technology.
Our board recently announced it is giving this year’s Champion of Freedom Award to the 32 Democratic and Republican lawmakers who sponsored the bill to allow public charter schools in Washington.
The Award will be formally presented on October 15th at our Annual Dinner in Bellevue, simulcast in Spokane, attended by over 1,500 supporters.
The prime sponsors of HB 2428 and SB 6202 will receive special recognition: Representative Eric Pettigrew (D-Seattle), Representative Glenn Anderson (R-Fall City), Senator Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island), and Senator Rodney Tom (D-Bellevue).
I’ve been speaking to civic groups about Initiative 1240 and one question I get is whether charter schools are unconstitutional in our state. As an attorney my first instinct was to write an 80-page brief in response. But I realized even other attorneys would find that boring, so I came up with something more concise. Here’s my response.
The main constitutional objections are that charter schools would be run by “corporate boards” and that they would not be under the supervision of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Opponents of Initiative 1240, the charter school measure, are disseminating a study known as the CREDO study. We have criticized this cherry-picking here. Another reason to be wary of this study comes from CREDO’s director, Margaret Raymond. She now says the variation in charter school performance can be traced to the quality of state laws authorizing and overseeing charter schools.
I hear that school administrators are telling legislators that the poverty of the children is why so many conventional schools in Washington fail so many children. The Public School Accountability Index shows that in 2011, fully 41.9% of Washington’s schools ranked on the lowest two tiers of achievement, as either “Fair” or “Struggling.”
As the burgeoning teachers strike closed schoolhouse doors across the Windy City Monday, parents of 350,000 students scrambled to secure daycare or make other arrangements while their children’s education is delayed. No one knows how long the strike will last, or what the lasting impact will be on Chicago school kids.
Yesterday, KING 5’s Up Front show with Robert Mak had a report about what parents in Washington could do if voters pass Initiative 1240, the charter school measure.
Parents at Oregon's Sauvie Island school, 20 miles north of Portland, were worried. Student enrollment had fallen to 80 students. So in 2010 they asked their district if they could convert Sauvie Island school to a charter school. The district approved their application in January 2011 and Sauvie Island Academy opened as a charter school in September of 2011.