If you can operate more cheaply than a WA state public school, you're probably cutting some pretty important corners.
Public schools have a mission, and that mission doesn't include turning a profit. Companies that run charter schools have to turn a profit to survive.

Underfunding public schools until they're failing isn't a great justification for giving the same money to for-profit entities with less oversight and accountability. In the case of publicly-funded charter schools, the profits come straight off the top, leaving reduced funds to run the schools.

It's hard not to be cynical that the main attraction of charter schools for politicians is that the for-profit entities that own, run, or manage them will donate to their campaigns. One of the stated purposes of conservatives who support charter schools is that busting teacher unions will somehow benefit the children.

Surely there must be ways of improving public schools, mediating labor problems, and delivering a standardized level of quality education without turning over local education budgets to thieves and charlatans?

Here's a thought... How about standardizing education on a state level instead of local? Instead of a bunch of local ed boards, why not a state-wide system under the civil service umbrella, funded at the state level instead of via local property taxes? Local boards of ed are frequently inept and occasionally corrupt, not to mention distracted by irrelevant social issues to the detriment of educational standards.
If you oppose charters, vote Chris Reykdal for OSPI, Jones seems uncommitted.
Jones has said repeatedly that she opposes charters. Yet many charter supporters and education "reformers" are supporting her campaign. I'm not impressed with her "charisma." She's the right wing's house negro. Follow the money and vote Reykdal.


Something like 70% of all charter schools are independently run single-site nonprofits.

And they're still far worse than public schools (performance on average is about the same, but performance averages don't take failed (closed) schools into account).

There are absolutely huge problems with charters schools, and I for one would be glad to see the whole idea scrapped, but in 70% of all cases you can't attribute any of the problems to profiteering.


Almost all states already have state-level education standards, and many have statewide funding systems or supplements. In Washington State (which has no income tax) there's even a provision that earmarks a percentage of property taxes for the state education fund.

The Ballmers and their charter school allies are also trying to oust Charlie Wiggins, who has been outspoken in his concerns that the death penalty is racist, and Mary Yu, the first LGBT member of the WA Supreme Court.
In her questionnaire on saveseattleschools Erin Jones definitely states that she opposes charter schools.…
That was great. He doesn't even mention that charter schools have the added benefit of selective enrollment—an advantage that should explain how they outperform most public schools. Except they don't outperform public schools.

I have never heard an argument for charter schools beyond "my child goes to one and likes it."
We've had similar negative results with charter schools in Florida. However, the root of the problem is how politicians, mostly Republicans, have demonized public education. By grading schools and teachers based solely on a high stakes test, politicians have taken 100% of the responsibility of student achievement from the student and their parent(s) and placed it entirely on the shoulders of the classroom teacher. Afterall the classroom teacher has little control over little Johnny or little Jenny going home after school everyday watching TV or playing video games all afternoon & evening instead of picking up a book, studying and doing homework.

The only teacher who should be fired is the one who is babysitting instead of teaching. Punishing teachers for failing students who refuse to work is both immoral and unethical.

Another BS statistic used to berate teachers is graduation rate. Rewarding students who refuse to work with a diploma only devalues the diplomas given to those students who have worked hard.
So what can we do? For one thing we can stop assuming that all students want to go to college. The cost of a college education is out of the reach for many students and to ask them to take on massive student loan debt to pay for it is asking too much.

For those students who don't want to go to college, they should receive intense vocational training so that they have a job skill by the time they graduate from High School.

It's time to stop the madness and once again adequately fund our public schools and cease giving charter and other private schools taxpayer money!
Hey Ansel, this may sound trolly, but where the heck is any coverage on the flooding in the south?
Not that i expect in depth coverage, but it seems like slog hasnt even mentioned it...
An unelected board spending tax dollars? You mean like The Stranger's The Monorail?

Vocational training in what, though?

The clerical occupations have vanished; in their place are laptop computers. Cars need less and less maintenance as reliability continues to improve, and we're moving in the direction of fewer cars, not more. We continue to create more efficient prefab construction techniques and engineered building materials, we no longer need millions of master or even journeyman carpenters, never mind masons. Factories of all kinds now use welding robots instead of welders.

We do need more RNs and PAs and NPs, but a high school education is a prerequisite for these and other in-demand high-paying jobs in health care; you can't just teach kids organic chemistry instead of algebra. Same goes for just about every other STEM career outside computer programming, and even there companies strongly prefer hiring college grads.

What are you proposing we teach kids in your vocational classes, when there aren't any vocations left?
@13 Skilled blue collar jobs, like plumbers, electricians, welders, and carpenters. Also maybe tailors/seamstresses, machinists, med tech, phlebotomists, childcare, nursing assistants, medical billing, and several other certificate courses that commercial schools now offer to GEDs and high school grads. Why not combine it with a vocational high school diploma? Some of these are pretty low-end jobs without advancement opportunity, but others can be the basis of starting your own business, with employees and stuff.
@10: Good question, and thanks! Look for some coverage soonish.

I think you might have stopped reading my comment after the first line.

Maybe you just don't want see kids to attaining levels of reading or retention greater than your own?
@2, to note, we have a state Board of Education and locally we have school boards. I think because the needs in Seattle are so different from say, Yakima, that's why we have local control. Now could there be more standardization in curriculum or other costs, sure.

@8 good catch but I suspect Oliver could have gone on for an hour on all the issues that charter schools have. The other "why I like charter schools" is that it gives "choice." We Americans love our choices even when they don't end up being much.

Yes, we need a lot more of what we used to call vocational ed but now is called CTE (Career and Technical Education.) Partnering with community colleges to get the education and training for the new kinds of high-end technical jobs would give kids more options.

Lastly, that the NAACP and Black Lives Matter have both recently come out against corporate/chain charters is HUGE. The issue seems to be what charters open where as well as a growing suspicion that charters are targeting families of color. For example, KIPP, which is the largest charter chain in the country is known for its strict discipline, long hours, and high graduation rates (but that's after a lot of attrition from who they start with to who graduates.) They also offer a lot fewer options for arts. KIPP has mostly kids of color and their parents wonder why the charters near them have such strict discipline and fewer offering than what white kids in suburban charters get.

We are starting to see that this lack of oversight from state on charters and a growing awareness of the segregation of charters plus lack of good outcomes that scale are making many people understand that shoring up real public school systems may be the way to go.
@17 Regarding KIPP: you're exactly right about attrition. I dated a KIPP teacher* and, coincidentally another friend of mine teaches at the local middle school that absorbs the kids KIPP is constantly kicking out.

*still paying her dues out of college, it was awful working there. No counselors, which kids there badly needed, and was on call 24-7 for student help—and parent rage. She's now happily a public school teacher.
Well, KIPP requires their teachers to be available (almost) 24/7. It burns this out but to this KIPP has said that they don't think teaching, as a career, is the right way to go. We should have many people be teachers for part of a career and then move on. Problem is, it takes between 5-7 years for someone to become a master teacher.

Please wait...

and remember to be decent to everyone
all of the time.

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