Washington Public Schools Are Criminally Underfunded, But Governor Inslee Won't Commit to Vetoing Charter School Law

Comments

1
Excellent posting Mr Herz! Here's hoping that you post more like this when you discover more. Here are some basic questions: Are there big money funders for the charter schools besides the Gates foundation? Is there national ALEC money involved in making those posh pleading children ads? Are those same ads being shown elsewhere in the nation? (Most major cities have charter school lobbies) Why are they apparently so interested in defunding public schools? Is it mostly to destroy the teachers' union? Is there a connection between the money behind charter schools and the big testing lobby? (e.g. Pearson, ETS, Houghton Mifflin, and McGraw-Hill) Do charter school funders across the nation all tend to utilize divide and conquer methods of appealing to minority interests?
2
I really wish all this private money being used to lobby politicians to divert public money from public schools to private schools could just be used to fund their own private schools. It's yet another lurch towards the regressive policies that are besmirching this democratic state.
3
Theophrastus, I can answer that.
Other money funders for charter schools nationally included: the Walton Foundation, the founder of Netflix, Reed Hastings, billionaire Joel E. Smilow, the Broad Foundation, former Mayor of NYC, Michael Bloomberg, David Geffen, Michael Milken, many hedge fund managers, and the Dell Foundation, just to name a few.

Melissa Westbrook
4
Don't forget the beloved paranoid Jeff Bezos.
5
@3, @4, good lists, but what do those interests actually hope will be accomplished by promoting a duplication of educational efforts with less public oversight? Is it to inculcate some specialized philosophical views like the parochial schools? Or will they allow that its main purpose is the directly observed result of defunding traditional public education? What's their goal? And will they promote any publicly recognized standards for teachers employed by their schools? ("ey billionaire! what do you expect little Lisa will get at your school that can't be made available at a normal public school?")
6
Dear Inslee. If you do not
7
I don't think the motivations of the big charter supporters are monolithic. Some, like Gates, believe that technology can, and should, replace teachers. Kids are all interchangeable widgets, and computers can teach them better than any regular ol' PERSON can, doncha know, so all we really need are rows and rows of computers and a handful of non-union repair-folk drifting around cleaning up the occasional mess.

Others (Broad, Walton) see this as a good way to destroy teacher's unions. And for those guys, destroying a union, any union, is A Good Thing, and that's enough to make charters an equally good thing in their books.

The hedge fund guys are offended by public anything, especially unionized public anything. By god, if there's money being spent, then THEY should get a cut, preferably a truly gigantic one. In a lot of ways, public education is the last big pot of public money that they don't have their porcine noses thrust deep into, and they WANT it.

So, how good/useful are charters? As currently composed in this country, they're sometimes no worse than real public schools, very occasionally better (when funded at much much higher levels, for instance in the Harlem Project), and often worse - sometimes much much worse. From the perspective of kids, it's likely to be no improvement, or worse. From the capitalist's perspective, it's ALL good, because they're stealing^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hobtaining public funds.

HTH! HAND!
8
Dear Inslee. If you don't have the balls to veto this bill you don't have the balls to deserve my vote this fall. And by the looks of it you're going to need every Good and Faithful Democrat vote you can get. The Olympia D contingent isn't philosophically split on this issue. It's being handed $$$$$$$$$$ by millionaires and billionaires to find a 'pass the sniff test' reasons to vote yes. Guess what? The vast majority of Ds, Hanauer and venture capitalists not included, still think this process stinks. And we're watching you.
9
Ansel thanks for finally reporting on this. But maybe if you'd gotten on it a little earlier our electeds would have known that beyond the highly staged sit-ins by charterites lies a vast group of parents, teachers and citizens who will be happy to show their displeasure at the ballot box for those who can't defend our underfunded oversubscribed public education system serving millions and instead focused their time and hope for campaign donations on fewer than 1,000 kids. Am I looking at Chopp and his House Ds? Yes.
10
Originally charters were to be classes within schools that would be incubators for new curriculum, teaching methods, etc. Like many good things, they morphed into something else.

One of the main problems is that you have a plethora of charters all doing their own thing. The research shows that, overall, they don't perform better than traditional schools (and often, worse.) So why invest in a parallel education system if you are not getting better outcomes?

There are, indeed, a few good ones but they also don't seem scalable. It's interesting that the largest charter operator in this country is sponsored by a shady Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah G├╝len. These schools have been investigated by both the Department of Ed and Labor departments in multiple states.

I think that some charters are truly trying to help at-risk kids of color. Problem is, many of those schools (see KIPP) are super structured, remove those who won't follow the structure and force their teachers to be available about 18 hours a day by cell phone to students and parents. You burn out teachers that way (clearly.)

But, the larger view is that there is money to be made on public education. Before, it was on infrastructure like buildings, books, furniture and now, technology. But make money off of running schools themselves? With charters that is possible and it's big money.

The side benefit is breaking the teachers union which is a big goal for Republicans because the teachers union is the largest in the country.

Want to see the outcomes? Google "fraud" and "charter schools" - you'll be reading a long time.

What's also interesting is that those who say they want to save these children of color are creating types of schools they would NEVER send their own children to. As well, charters are much more segregated than regular public schools and serve fewer Sped students as well as ELL and homeless students. It's easier to get better outcomes when you don't have to serve everyone who comes thru your doors. (To clarify, charters do have to enroll whoever signs up BUT they manage to "counsel out" kids with challenges b/c those are high cost kids. Traditional public schools have to take and keep everyone who comes thru their doors.)

Washington state has been very lucky in NOT being part of this trend for decades. We are lucky to be able to see the morass that is charter schools in 43 states over 20+ years. We are fortunate to be able to say no before what is happening in Ohio, Florida, Arizona and Louisiana doesn't happen here.

If we hold off charters now, we will look back in several years and count our lucky stars. One key thing to note about the situation here - our constitution is specific in a manner unlike most other states. Public education is the "paramount duty of the state" and is to be "amply funded." As well, the constitution gives the state superintendent the power to oversee "all public schools." Those two items are key to any initiative or bill on charter schools.

But the absolute bottom line is what Ansel Hertz is saying in this piece - we do not fully fund our existing schools. How can anyone say they are "failing" when we don't fund to the national average? How does anyone truly know?

My belief is that the Governor will sit down and carefully consider what it all might look like to voters and especially members of the Democratic party that he belongs to and who got him elected. As well, there is the Democratic platform that does not support charter schools as well the the state constitution that he swore to uphold (many believe the bill that was passed is still not constitutional). He himself has said, repeatedly, that he does not support charter schools.

That would be a lot to turn his back on. Some might say it's political suicide.
11
Utah legislators LOVE charter schools. It's their supplementary income! Sell the land where the charter school will go - profit! Hire the fam's construction company to build the school - profit! Another family member gets the charter approved, runs the school, hires the rest of the family to work at the school for outrageous wages and very little work. Then hire a bunch of uncertificated teachers who are desperate for a job, pay them crap wages, make them work 12 hour days under threat of losing their jobs if they don't. Oh - don't forget to site your charter school out in the suburbs, and since no transportation is offered, only the middle-upper class parents are able to drive them there. Also, adding in some required volunteer hours further ensures that you'll get the families where only one parent has to work. Finally, making sure that you don't serve lunch keeps that free and reduced riff-raff out of your school. But make sure your charter states that it is for low-income kids, under-served populations, and kids who need an alternate setting for education. Of course, it's not your fault they didn't enroll, it's in your charter, after all. Then sit back and profit away! Oh - and push for more funding for charter schools when you sit in your legislative job, that way you can increase your profit margin. Aren't charter schools wonderful? All that public money, ripe for the picking?
Yay, charters!
12
Anyone realize Gates Foundation behind a thin very thin veil bought the real estate to allow Seattle's Summit Sierra, a California 'nonprofit' to take over an ID building? Has it ever spent millions to alleviate the severe overcrowding and underfunding of Seattle Public Schools? No.

Anyone realize Summit Sierra's principal is married to the head of the 'let's throw money at it' Washington State Charter Association aka fat lobbyist group backed directly by venture capitalists out of NYC?

Anyone realize Seattle's 'Democrats' for Education Reform gets most of its $$$$$$$ from NYC venture capitalists? Who are trying to make venture capital-size $$$$$$ off charters?

Anyone realize that charter school tantrum thrower from a few years back and local millionaire Nick Hanauer - best buds with the Ballmer and Gates people none of whom sent their kids to public school - throws huge sums of $$$ at the League of Education Voters which in turn has spent seemingly all of its time promoting charters instead of gasp the millions of kids in this state who need school funding help?

Anyone realize that The Stranger has dropped the ball on this story since Dominic and Goldy hit the hills? C'mon Ansel et al - get busy. This is a story more unseemly than most of the flimflam city shenanigans you like to call out.
14
@ 13. If you Google for 90 seconds you'll realize that the donations are mostly Corporate Ed reform nonsense. Overcrowded buildings and classrooms are huge Seattle schools headaches.

Has Gates help purchase real estate anywhere in cash strapped Seattle for SPS? No. Only for a pet charter startup.

Is Gates in favor of smaller class sizes? No. They don't believe it has an impact on student success. Go tell that to any public school parent and enjoy the laugh in your face.

Has Gates pushed more standarized testing and more teacher evaluations linked to standardized tests? Yes.

Is Gates overtly and covertly funding the Washington charter school push because he and his foundation can't stand the fact that they can't dictate how we run our public schools? Hell yes.
15
"a bill that stands for everything the Democratic Party opposes"

No, it stands for everything the liberal wing of the Democratic Party opposes.

It is precisely in line with everything the corporatist, neo-liberal, DNC, Clintonista, Arne Duncan, Murray/Cantwell, union-busting, TPP-loving, Republican-in-sheep's-clothing wing of the party supports.
16
My husband David Spring and I have been researching ed-reform for two years. This Frank Chopp character and the Dems who voted to have a floor vote on this bill may as well be running as Republicans because they ignore the Democratic party platform. Not to mention the 10 Dems who voted yes for charter school. Why work in a party when corporate dollars can just come in like a tornado and knock you down? Do our votes count? Our book on ed-reform "Weapons of Mass Deception" is free online here. Tells the ugly story of Bill Gates, the Waltons and the bought off leaders. https://weaponsofmassdeception.org/
18
@17 - the Gates Foundation is a huge charter supporter and, in fact, has set-up a non-profit solely to help charter with capital needs.

You probably have not been keeping up but Seattle Schools has NO unused buildings. Right now, the district is growing rapidly (unlike other urban districts). You are right that just several years back, the district sold some properties and many of us protested that. But now every single closed building is being reopened for district use. They will probably have no interim space in a few years.

And luckily, the latest charter bill had a vicious conversion charter part thrown out because it would have allowed a charter school, with a petition signed by a majority of teachers OR current school parents, to flip a current school building over to a charter school.

That's how charters would like to get space.

Plus this bill threw out the ability for charters to lease or buy any school building below market value. Yup, that was in the original law and then in this bill that our public school building could be sold to private entities below market value.
19
To @10, never say never. I am a liberal democrat. My son goes to Summit Sierra Charter school in the International District. He has ADHD, Dysgraphia, Dyslexia and generalized anxiety disorder. He has a 504. When I went down to the district offices last spring to turn in my request for an IEP/504 along with an in-depth educational evaluation (which we paid for out of pocket, in an effort to get the needed services), I was told I couldn't hand it in to the Special Education department because they "are not set up to see the public." I was told my 10 plus page report would need to be faxed to them even though they were in the same building. By the time I got a phone call from them months later I had already enrolled him at Summit where he is getting the teacher support and time that he needs to be successful in school. He has a chromebook to do his schoolwork on, as do all of the students at his school, and yes, most of them are free and reduced lunch and students of color. If he went to our neighborhood high school it would be -bursting at the seams- Ballard (which is not in our neighborhood, because someone years ago thought it would be a good idea to turn our neighborhood high school into apartments then condos.) I've lived in Seattle for 27 years. I've had my kids enrolled in public schools and volunteered in them. I remember the hopes that died with John Stanford. I have friends that are public school teachers. I'm not against public schools. I don't think successful charter schools and successful public schools need to be mutually exclusive. I'm not anti-union or a billionaire. I just can see that we desperately need more options. MORE OPTIONS. Drive around to any neighborhood playground and see it teeming with young kids. There are three public elementary schools, one middle school and no high schools in my neighborhood. It's not enough. This is true all over the city. Where do you think all of these kids are going to go to high school? I am weary of the Seattle, too little, too late, nimby attitude that keeps things from getting done (like improvements in our public schools). I battled the district when my daughter was attending The Center School and they tried to close it down. I think waiting decades for things to get better is enough. I'm ready to try something that serves the best interest of my child. And to @12 regarding the principal of Summit Sierra. Prior to enrolling at Summit we met with her regarding our son for at least 6 hours on three separate occasions to talk about whether Summit would be a good fit. She was gracious, engaged, accommodating and supportive. And still is, even though it's been less than ideal to open a new school with a cloud of uncertainty looming because of people playing politics with the will of the voters and the lives of the students already enrolled. I don't care who she is married to, she is doing a great job. Come see for yourself Ansel Herz.
20
Donald Trump is a popular candidate among rank-and-file Republicans because they feel that the ignores their interests and only pays attention to big-money contributors who have interests that are in opposition to those of the rank-and-file. The Democratic party is little different when it comes to serving the interests of their big money contributors over the interests of their rank-and-file members, which explains the popularity of Senator Sanders' candidacy.
There is a real need for political reform in America. Let's hope it comes from President Sanders instead of President Trump.
21
I wish the Stranger could make up their mind on who they are supporting and why. Is this an attempt to back the teachers union? 70 percent of charter school students are students of color. 70% are students that qualify for lunch assistance. One of the 9 Washington Charter schools was designed for homeless children. The test scores for charter school children have shown amazing progress.

Is this about children at all? If our goal is to educate children for a better life why would we get in the way of schools achieving that goal?

http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local…
22
Fund Public Schools First!

Period.
23
Anyone care for another perspective on this?

Filtering the Stranger's Anti-Charter Op…