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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Walmart Heiress Gives $600,000 to WA Charter Schools Initiative

Posted by on Tue, Jul 17, 2012 at 4:17 PM

Billionaires sure do love charter schools. Hmm. Wonder why?

 

Comments (24) RSS

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Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 1

Charter school purchasing isn't set by low bid contracts overseen by school boards.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on July 17, 2012 at 4:22 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 2
@1 with these skills of deduction you belong on Joe Arpaio's Cold Case Posse.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi http://www.zombo.com on July 17, 2012 at 4:47 PM · Report this
ScienceNerd 3
In my book, whatever a Walton likes, I dislike it.
Posted by ScienceNerd http://stanichium.tumblr.com/ on July 17, 2012 at 5:02 PM · Report this
4
Logical fallacy alert: motive fallacy.

http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/07…

Whether or not billionaires are in favor of a policy does not, by itself, prove that policy to be misguided. I think the charter school initiative is problematic, but not because the Waltons endorse it.
Posted by wxPDX on July 17, 2012 at 5:11 PM · Report this
Sam Levine 5
Perhaps because they love America and have different ideas on how to improve it than you do.
Posted by Sam Levine http://levinetech.net on July 17, 2012 at 5:15 PM · Report this
6
Poor thing, that only leaves her with $23,299,400,000.
Posted by gloomy gus on July 17, 2012 at 6:14 PM · Report this
eastcoastreader 7
@3 would that include art? this is the same Walton who is building a new huge American art museum. and pretty much stocking the whole thing. I'm happy about it because it means that more works will stay open to the public instead of sitting in some 1%er's living room for the next 50 years.
Posted by eastcoastreader on July 17, 2012 at 6:42 PM · Report this
8
And that museum is in ...Arkansas?

Again, why is Gates getting all his out-of-state friends to send him money for this? (In 2004, it was the heads of Netflicks, Wal-Mart and the Gap plus the Broad Foundation.) Of course, there is money to be made from charters so it's no surprise.

What's that smell? Oh, just a whiff of paternalism from a small group of wealthy people who think they know best. (Interestingly, it seems Washington state is the only state that has fought back at the ballot box against charters. I guess we're independent minded that way and don't just want to be lemmings jumping off the cliff like the other 41 states).

We vote no again and in 3-5 years, we'll look like the smart state.
Posted by westello on July 17, 2012 at 7:12 PM · Report this
sloegin 9
A bunch of wealthy folks who never attended public or charter schools, who are curiously unwilling to build and fund the kind of schools they themselves attended.

Strange. Or actually not so strange at all.
Posted by sloegin on July 17, 2012 at 8:39 PM · Report this
Baconcat 10
Rich folks buying the rights to decide WA kids' future? I see.

Kids with pricetags.

Let's not forget either that McKenna was recently discussing Ed policy with Gov. Jindall.
Posted by Baconcat on July 17, 2012 at 9:22 PM · Report this
11
Can someone actually articulate the substantive case against charter schools?

Posted by Get Real on July 17, 2012 at 9:32 PM · Report this
12
Get Real, I can.

First, in general, charters don't work. The most quoted,used and peer-reviewed study is out of Stanford called CREDO. They found that 17% do better, 46% do the same as traditionals and 37% do WORSE.

There is not one state or even one district that can say that having charters has helped them close the achievement gap.

41 states, 20 years and that's where charters are. That's the real status quo. Why are they popular? We're Americans, we like choice and yes, a small portion of them work.

Keep in mind that many charters receive outside funding so they are not operating at the same level as traditionals. KIPP, a well-known charter group, gets about $4k per child more. Our traditional schools could do better if they had $4k per child more as well. One of the most highly touted charters, Harlem Children's Zone, spends $23k per child. That is not sustainable nor scalable.

Charters underserve Special Ed, ELL and homeless students. A recent GAO study confirms the underserving of Special Ed students. Why would that be? Those high-need students cost more and charters don't want that cost and so are happy to "counsel out" those students, returning them to traditional schools who have to take every child.

I-1240. It's not modest or reasonable and has the most aggressive takeover "trigger" in charter law history (that's not an exaggeration).

- a charter can takeover ANY existing school, failing or not, with a petition signed by a majority of parents OR teachers. If you have 30 teachers in an elementary school, 16 people can change an entire school community.

- under this initiative, a charter can buy or lease any closed or for lease school building at or below market value. Not a good deal for the district or taxpayers. They can also ask for building space from a public entity or commercial real estate at or below market value.

- if you like more government bureaucracy, here's the Charter Commission. Nine people appointed by the Governor, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate and who have NO oversight and you can't get rid of any poor-performing members.

- at-risk kids. Proponents say this measure will create high-quality charters for these students. Not so and when press, no one can name the section and page where this is affirmed. It only says an authorizer can give "preference" to a charter that proposes to serve at-risk kids but it doesn't say how. It also says nothing stops authorizers from giving the ok to ANY kind of charter.

Note - even though a religious group cannot start a charter, there's backdoor. A charter can be "themed" and there are many ethnically themed charters. In fact, the largest charter in the country is called Gulan and it is Turkish -based and imports Turkish teachers ...to teach English.

In short, charters don't work. Are we trying to achieve better academic outcomes? Then charters are not the answer.

The good news? Our state IS moving forward. The Legislature has passed two Innovation schools laws in the last two years. They also passed a Lighthouse School law to support more STEM schools. We have many great examples of innovation in our schools and that tide is continuing.

We need more early childhood education. We need more college and career counseling. We need more summer school and direct interventions for struggling students.

There are many things that we can do to support students but charters will create more problems than any single one of them solves. Districts will lose money and for a small district, it could be devastating.

I write for the Seattle education blog, Seattle Schools Community Forum at saveseattleschools.blogspot.com. If you have more questions, visit the site or write to me at sss.westbrook.gmail
I am happy to answer any and all questions.

That is not an offer you will get from any levy supporter.
More...
Posted by westello on July 17, 2012 at 10:12 PM · Report this
13
Maybe they just want to help invest in some private charter schools to help produce the consumers of tomorrow.
Posted by madcap on July 18, 2012 at 1:41 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 14
Well, we apparently hate college (I mean everyone says it's a bad investment...even the left will say that) and we apparently want to decimate what's left of high school and elementary education.

Actually, charter schools won't do that completely. A select few students (rich enough) will have a wide choice of schools to go to allowing the financially elite to have wonderful choice. Meanwhile, rural school districts and districts with poor urban areas will suffer with less funding and less choice. How many charter schools are really going to be built in Adams County, seriously?

And isn't this what it all comes down too? Making education the realm of the wealthy (with a handful of "token" scholarship students who really have to be freakishly intelligent for their age) to partake in?

In a generation the US will have a lower level of college educated workers in the work force since before WWII. And that means an overall lowering of wages and for you 40-somethings...less money going into programs like Social Security.

Sure, there will be a few charter schools that will work just as planned but that number will be much lower than the number of public schools that work really well.

And one thing I have learned about voters; if you keep putting the same initiatives on the ballot over and over and you don't get the result you want, keep doing it; eventually you will.

I give you the Monorail as an example.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on July 18, 2012 at 5:52 AM · Report this
south downtown 15
@12 Westello, you da bomb!
Posted by south downtown on July 18, 2012 at 11:09 AM · Report this
16
The only charter schools that actually do well are those that get funding from a big money benefactor in addition to their public money. Billionaires love charter schools because it means they can make their own school and make a bunch of kids into their own personal pets without having to pay the full cost of making their own private school. It's a great example of economic and political power reinforcing each other in a way that cuts ordinary people off from influence, to the ultimate detriment of all but the high elite.
Posted by I have always been... east coaster on July 18, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Report this
Note To Self 17
@12 westello, thank you for the considered, thorough reply. My initial incliniation would be to support at least the idea of charter schools. Because of you I will spend some time looking into this initiative to understand it enough to make a better informed decision.

I have a question regarding this quote from the Stanford study:
"They found that 17% do better, 46% do the same as traditionals and 37% do WORSE."
Do you know what is meant by this? Are these numbers about performance on standardized tests? Part of the problem that we have now is that schools are teaching to get results on the standardized tests. I'd be happy with a charter school (any school really) that downplayed test results if other eductional goals were achieved.
Posted by Note To Self on July 18, 2012 at 12:15 PM · Report this
18
Ok, I don't get it, why are we supposed to hate charter schools?
Posted by jedifarfy on July 18, 2012 at 1:00 PM · Report this
19
The idea that charter schools don't "work" is inherently useless, because the criteria by which a school is judged to "work" (standardized tests) is completely arbitrary and a demonstrably bad way to assess learning. Charter schools are certainly flawed, but no more flawed than public schools.

There are lots and lots of good, liberal people all over the country who live in lower class neighborhoods and who are very happy to have had the choice to send their kids to charter schools. Without them, they would have been forced to send their kids to schools that are violent, or otherwise unsatisfactory.

Why would any liberal argue that poorer people deserve fewer educational choices than richer people?
Posted by LJM on July 18, 2012 at 2:16 PM · Report this
20
Note to Self, keep in mind one thing - this is no pilot project. Many want to "try" charters. Nope, once here, they will only expand and if they are not good, well, then you have many more less-than-good or even bad schools.

Yes, the CREDO study out of Stanford was based on test scores. I know that disappoints many but I can only say, have you not heard of NCLB? This ed reform disaster (now being quietly dismantled) brought mega-testing on all 50 states and that, my friends, is all that counts. Not if you have the arts in school or recess (obesity, remember) or anything else. It's a test score that counts.

I will say that the CREDO stats do NOT say that the 17% were the best or the 37% were the worst; they just performed better or worse on tests. So take that for what you will.

I will also say that it is hard for me to fathom how anyone could vote for this particular initiative even if you like the idea. It is vague and doesn't have near the accountability it should (and I don't get that because it's an alleged selling point). And, it several very dangerous sections.

Number one with a bullet; allowing a charter to take over ANY existing school, failing or not, with a simple majority of signatures by either parents OR teachers. This would be the most severe "trigger" law in the country; no other state has anything like it. You might ask yourself, "why would teachers do that?"

Well, if you hated your principal and you had a CMO (charter management organization) whispering in your ear about how great it will be if they are in charge, you just might sign up.

So if an elementary school has 30 teachers, 16 of them could change the lives of an entire school community and take a neighborhood school off-line, building and all. (Charters are rarely neighborhood schools as they have to take kids from anywhere. A Seattle kid could go to a charter in Bellevue, for example.)

Where is the good or value to that?

And why, you might ask, would a charter go after a good or high-performing school? I'll repeat what the LA Times said - when you takeover an existing school, a charter has to take any and all existing students who remain. If you already have a school with students who do well (and that likely signals on-board parents), well, you already are ahead of the game. The LA Times pointed out that well, no charter really wants a whole school that is failing so that's why the "trigger" isn't being tried out as much in California.

It's also the Charter Commission created by this initiative which is appointed by the Governor, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate (not much politics there). After that, it's hands-off because they have zero oversight and no mechanism to remove a poor performer. And, they DON'T have to follow the authorization process that school boards do. Why not? I can't say but it's explicitly in the initiative that they don't.

It goes on and on.
-School charter boards don't have to have any qualifications (nor get a background check which all adults have to have in regular schools to work around children),
-charters can force districts to sell closed schools for less than they are worth,
-nothing specific to make SURE that at-risk students get served,
-a backdoor for religion teaching (through ethnically "themed" schools),
-for-profit companies contracting for every service but management of the school.

Like charters if you must but this initiative is the wrong vehicle. The bad far, far outweighs any good.

I don't have a child in this fight so for me this is about protecting our existing schools and students. I have no affiliation with the union - they can fight their own fight.

This is about Washington - for the fourth time - saying no. We are the ONLY state in the union to have ever fought back at the ballot box and that strong independent spirit speaks volumes about our ability to see what works and what doesn't.

If we turn this down, in 3-5 years,we are going to look across the educational landscape of this country and thank ourselves for being so smart.
More...
Posted by westello on July 18, 2012 at 3:51 PM · Report this
21
I completely agree that teachers alone shouldn't be able to change a school into a charter. And there should be mechanisms to close or change charters that are not performing to the satisfaction of the students and parents.

I think one would have to look at the initiatives that have passed around the country and compare them to this one. To what degree have the charter schools authorized under similar initiatives failed to satisfy the parents and students they serve? It's important to remember that there is no evidence that teachers and administrators working for charters are any more corrupt and/or incompetent than those working for public schools. There will always be corruption and incompetence. And there should always be a legally binding way to quickly respond to instances of those things.

Politics is unavoidable in any publicly financed endeavor. All that matters is whatever it takes to make more people more satisfied with the education available to them.
Posted by LJM on July 18, 2012 at 6:37 PM · Report this
22
"And there should be mechanisms to close or change charters that are not performing to the satisfaction of the students and parents."

There isn't in this initiative. Zero. The only people who can close a charter are the people who authorized it (and even then, they can waffle if they want to).

In fact, the word "parent" is used 16 times in the initiative and only once does it mention parent engagement and that's just to list it as a possibility in a charter proposal. Any parent thinking there will be engagement and/or control out of this for parents is dreaming.

I'm a little unclear why you are bringing up corruption or incompetence.

What is interesting is there was one study where they compared a school a group of parents had been at previously and their new charter school. The schools had the same academic outcomes. When parents were told this, they said they didn't care because at least they "chose" their charter. Interesting.
Posted by westello on July 19, 2012 at 8:51 AM · Report this
23
Wal-Mart belongs to The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

“Won’t Back Down” Film Pushes ALEC Parent Trigger Proposal http://www.vltp.net/

All of the people in "Won't Back Down" (Michelle Rhee, Charles Koch, Rupert Murdock, Philip Ansuchtz) are all ALEC founders (Koch) and/or members.
http://www.prwatch.org/news/2012/09/1176…

This is PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT BECAUSE SEATTLE IS CONSIDERING INITIATIVE 1240 ON THE BALLOT IN NOVEMBER. It is being disguised as "Charter School" legislation:
http://engagingparentsinschool.edublogs.…

At the time this was put into motion, Bill Gates' Gates Foundation and John Walton/Wal-Mart were still members of The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). http://blogs.seattletimes.com/uwelection…

Fortunately, some of the movie reviewers in Seattle are awake, but perhaps not all of the voting public: http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com…

http://parentsacrossamerica.org/2012/05/…

An inconvenient truth about Charter School Resolution 1240
http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com…

Initiative 1240
http://sos.wa.gov/_assets/elections/init…

Why would ALEC support this? Because the "funding" for "public education" will comes from "private sources", opening ALEC's corporate doors to educational privatization, including its entire conservative philosophy: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-…

Did I mention that Thurston/Pierce County Legislative District 2 (incumbent) Senator Randi Becker is an ALEC Education Task Force member?
Posted by Aatticus Finch on September 20, 2012 at 9:51 PM · Report this
24
Wal-Mart belongs to The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

“Won’t Back Down” Film Pushes ALEC Parent Trigger Proposal http://www.vltp.net/

All of the people in "Won't Back Down" (Michelle Rhee, Charles Koch, Rupert Murdock, Philip Ansuchtz) are all ALEC founders (Koch) and/or members.
http://www.prwatch.org/news/2012/09/1176…

This is PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT BECAUSE SEATTLE IS CONSIDERING INITIATIVE 1240 ON THE BALLOT IN NOVEMBER. It is being disguised as "Charter School" legislation:
http://engagingparentsinschool.edublogs.…

At the time this was put into motion, Bill Gates' Gates Foundation and John Walton/Wal-Mart were still members of The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). http://blogs.seattletimes.com/uwelection…

Fortunately, some of the movie reviewers in Seattle are awake, but perhaps not all of the voting public: http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com…

http://parentsacrossamerica.org/2012/05/…

An inconvenient truth about Charter School Resolution 1240
http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com…

Initiative 1240
http://sos.wa.gov/_assets/elections/init…

Why would ALEC support this? Because the "funding" for "public education" will comes from "private sources", opening ALEC's corporate doors to educational privatization, including its entire conservative philosophy: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-…

Did I mention that Thurston/Pierce County Legislative District 2 (incumbent) Senator Randi Becker is an ALEC Education Task Force member?
Posted by Atticus Finch on September 20, 2012 at 9:53 PM · Report this

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