2017 Public Bank Bill Gets a Hearing in Olympia on Feb 7. Why public banks save money.

The bill to establish a public bank, Senate bill 5464, is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions on Tuesday, February 7 2017 at 8:00 am in Olympia. Here is a link to this bill:
http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/5464.pdf

If you cannot attend this hearing, here is a link to submit comments in favor of this bill:

https://app.leg.wa.gov/pbc/bill//5464

 

The bill to establish a public bank, Senate bill 5464, is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions on Tuesday, February 7 2017 at 8:00 am in Olympia. Here is a link to this bill:
http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/5464.pdf

If you cannot attend this hearing, here is a link to submit comments in favor of this bill:

https://app.leg.wa.gov/pbc/bill//5464

Email us if you need a ride to Olympia
springforschools@gmail.com

Regards,
David Spring M. Ed.
Washington Public Bank Coalition

What is a Public Bank?

A public bank is a bank that is established to operate for the public good rather than for private profit. There are many public banks in nations around the world. In particular, public banks were responsible for the restoration of economic prosperity in Germany after the devastation of World War Two.

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All 50 states, except North Dakota deal with private wall street banking system that works like this:

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How our current system works:

1) We pay our taxes / fees and they go to the state government.

2) The state government invests our money in private “Too big to fail” banks.

3) The banks speculates with our money in the stock market and in derivatives, financial gambling instruments, which were part of the cause of the 2008 crisis)

4) The banks profit from our money.

5) We get a modest return.

6) And equally important, because our government doesn’t take in enough revenue to pay for infrastructure (like roads and school construction) the city, county and state governments have to issue bonds and we end up paying huge amounts of interest and fees (debt service) to both the banks who write the bond deals and to bond holders.

Read more: What is a Public Bank?

Welcome to the Washington Public Bank Coalition

Welcome to the Washington Public Bank Coalition! Our goal is to provide you with information on the benefits of creating a public bank to finance public projects, such as public public schools, rather than financing public projects through private Wall Street mega banks. The safety of one million school children in our state depends on replacing one thousand crumbling school buildings. The best and least expensive way to build these urgently needed schools is by creating a public bank. Our hope that you will join with us to support the establishment of a public bank here in Washington state so that we can begin to build these urgently needed schools – financed entirely by repealing tax breaks for billionaires – and without placing additional financial burdens on local homeowners.

What is a Public Bank?
A public bank is a bank that is established to operate for the public good rather than for private profit. There are many public banks in nations around the world. In particular, public banks were responsible for the restoration of economic prosperity in Germany after the devastation of World War Two.

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Due to the corrupting influence of greedy Wall Street banks, the only public bank in the United States is the Bank of North Dakota – which was established by conservative farmers in North Dakota to free their state from the economic control of powerful East Coast Bankers. Despite many attempts by Wall Street bankers to kill the Bank of North Dakota, it has thrives and allowed North Dakota to be free of the debt slavery imposed by Too Big to Fail banks. Each year, the Bank of North Dakota returns millions of dollars in profits to the people of North Dakota – in addition to providing low cost loans for the building of public schools and public roads in North Dakota.

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Best of all, the Bank of North Dakota is the safest bank in America. It does not engage in risky “credit default” speculation and it has the highest ratio of assets to liabilities of any bank in America.

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Why do we need a Public Bank in Washington State?
We have gone for more than 100 years in Washington state ever since we were granted Statehood in 1889 without a public bank. So why do we need a public bank now? The answer is that our state is facing economic problems which are greater than any time in our history. Over half of public schools are more than 50 years old. They do not meet earthquake codes or health codes. They are so unsafe that they place the lives of 500,000 students at risk should a major quake occur while the children are at school. It would take more than $30 billion to replace all of these crumbing schools. We also have a $20 billion road construction and repair backlog. Half of our bridges are also more than 50 years old and would collapse in the event of a major earthquake. We are already paying more than $2 billion per year just in interest payments to Wall Street banks from past loans. We as a State simply cannot afford to continue squandering billions of dollars every year to payments to greedy Wall Street bankers when a public bank would allow us to build public schools and roads with no interest charges. Below are just a few of many benefits of creating our own public bank.

First, we could build schools and roads for half the cost – or build twice as many schools and roads! The concentration of wealthy and power in the hands of Wall Street banks is greater now than at any time in our nation’s history. The difference in cost between what Wall Street banks are able to get from the federal government versus what they charge states is the highest in history. Wall street banks get money at near zero percent interest and charge our State, cities and School Districts 4 to 5 percent interest – even though no city or school district in our state has ever defaulted on a loan. The prices were are being charged in interest by Wall Street banks amounts to robbery. The only reason they get away with it is that the big banks are a monopoly.

A public bank would allow us to build public schools and public roads without being fleeced by the private Wall Street banking monopoly. Currently almost half the cost of all public schools and roads goes simply to pay off the bonds of the Wall Street banks. If we loaned the money to ourselves, we could eliminate these greedy bankers and return the money to the tax payers by lowering the cost of public projects. Alternately, we could build twice as many public projects with the same amount of money.

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Second, we could lower local property taxes. Because our state is at the debt limit, the state school construction matching funds have fallen from 67% of the actual cost of building schools in the 1980s to less than 10% of the actual cost of building schools today. As a consequence of the state failure to help build schools, local homeowners have been forced to pick up the difference through skyrocketing local property taxes in order to pay off the Wall Street banks in a vicious cycle of debt induced slavery. If we had a public bank, there would be no need to increase local property taxes – in fact, we could cut local property taxes in half. Eventually, we would become like North Dakota which has virtually no debt and therefore has very low taxes.

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Third, starting a public bank would allow us to create more than one hundred thousand new good paying jobs – building the schools our kids need and the roads that the rest of us need to get to and from work.

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Fourth, we could reduce our dependence on greedy corrupt Wall Street banks.
The reason Wall Street banks were given billions of dollars in bailouts in the past few years is because we do not have a public banking system to fail back on when private for profit banks go broke. Starting a public banking system will allow our economy to grow even if the greedy Wall Street banks gamble away all of their profits and go broke. It is much safer to invest our tax dollars right here in Washington state helping build our local schools and roads than to hand our money over to Wall Street bankers who will gamble it away in a reckless drive to maximize profits.

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Put Our Tax Dollars to Work for Us – Interest earned from investments made by a Public Bank would be returned to the State’s general fund and put to work right here in Washington. The North Dakota State Bank returned over $300 million dollars to the State in the last decade. With our larger population, a Washington State Bank could generate even more revenue, stabilize our economy, and avoid tax increases.

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Do you know where your Washington State tax dollars go?
When you go to the drugstore to buy some aspirin for the headache you got watching too many false and misleading ads on TV, the store adds 9.5% of the price to your bill. That money is collected and used by the State of Washington to pay for schools and social services. But before the state uses the funds for their intended purpose, did you know that all of those billions of dollars go into an account at Bank of America? This basically billions of dollars of free money that Bank of America uses to increase their corporate profits. This is the same Bank of America that is now considered “Too Big to Fail” and that you and I paid billions of tax payer dollars to bail out when they recklessly gambled with depositors’ money and lost it on speculation in financial schemes such as collateralized debt obligations and mortgage-backed securities.

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This is the same ruthless Bank of America that is now foreclosing on tens of thousands of Washington State residents, all the while skirting its obligation to re-negotiate underwater home loans in good faith and using “robosigners” to pretend to hold notes that were sliced diced and discarded years ago. A Washington State Public Bank would allow us to keep our state tax dollars out of the hands of these greedy, lawless Wall Street bankers.

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The Cause of our Economic Crisis is the Private Mega Bank Monopoly
Clearly, our current financial systems, nationwide and in Washington State, aren’t working. The gap between the rich and poor is growing; worker lay-offs and state deficits are increasing, and many, many people need jobs. Our current banking system is directly connected to big banks. On August 31, 2010, Washington State had 67.8% of its current deposits of $5.4 billion dollars in nine private banks that are headquartered outside the Northwest. Most of our tax money is deposited in the Bank of America. These private banks are in business to make profits for their owners and their shareholders. These 9 banks directly benefit from holding Washington’s state revenue on their balance sheets. They are able to leverage that money (multiply it many times) to create new loans, including out of state loans and to invest that money on Wall Street.

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Our State’s tax payers pay interest to Wall Street Bankers in at least three ways.

First, we pay about one billion dollars per year from the State General Fund to cover the interest on loans from State public projects. Second, we pay more than one billion dollars in interest on public projects funded through local governments like cities and counties. Third, we pay more than one billion dollars in interest and principle payments for local school district school construction bonds. The total bond payments, for all three bond sources for public projects by all tax payers in Washington State, exceed $3 billion per year. By contrast, thanks to having their own public bank, the State of North Dakota has no bond payments and has no budget shortfall.

Currently, taxpayers in our State pay about 5% interest on these $3 billion in bonds to Wall Street Bankers. This is an unreasonably high interest rate given that Wall Street banks are able to get the funds to finance the bonds from the Federal Reserve for near zero interest rates. If we financed our own public bonds, we could likely cut the interest rate in half, saving our State’s tax payers more than one billion dollars per year in interest payments on bonds – simply by eliminating the Wall Street middle men.

The Solution to our State’s Economic Problems is to Start Our Own Public Bank
Instead of banking on Wall Street, Washington State needs to bank on Main Street. The answer lies in Public Banking. Simply put, Public Banks put state tax revenue, investments and assets to work on Main Street, not on Wall Street.

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Click on the other pages on our website to learn more about the drawbacks of continuing to borrow money from Wall Street banks and the benefits of creating our own public bank.

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Then click on the Join Now button to join with us in creating a public bank here for Washington State! Together with the help of a public bank, we can restore economic prosperity here for everyone.

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Ten Reasons Parents & Teachers Should Oppose the Republican School Plan

On January 27 2017, Washington State Republicans released their Education Funding Plan which they claim will comply with the Washington Supreme Court McCleary Decision requiring the legislature to comply with our State Constitution by fully fund our public schools. While Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal has commended the plan, in this article, we will provide ten reasons all parents and teachers, regardless of their political party, should oppose the Republican Education Plan.

Note: Washington Democrats have not released their Education Funding plan yet. They claim it will be released in a few days. We have reason to believe the Democrats Plan will not be much better than the Republican Plan. We will write a critique of the Democrats Plan when it is released. But for now, we will simply focus on the problems with the Republican Plan. The Republican Plan, which they call the Education Equality Act, is not yet in bill form. Here is a link to a 10 page summary of the Republicans Plan in case you want to read it yourself:
https://johnbraun.src.wastateleg.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2017/01/Education-Equality-Act-Staff-Summary.pdf

Here is a link to their slideshow about their plan:
https://src.wastateleg.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Improving-Student-Outcome.pdf

Here is a quote from their plan claiming that it will help our schools, when in fact, if it passes, it will severely harm our schools: “Our proposal provides ample, dependable and equitable funding for all Washington students.”

Here is a link and quote from Superintendent Reykdal commending the Republican Plan.
https://www.k12.wa.us/Communications/pressreleases2017/Reykdal-EducationFunding.aspx

“The proposal shows that Republicans are serious about solving the funding problem and that it understands additional resources will be needed. The proposal itself is very comprehensive. It would create a guaranteed funding level for each and every student. .. That funding level would be paid for, in part, by a state property tax capped at $1.80 per $1,000 of assessed value. I appreciate the emphasis on accountability and on providing additional support for underachieving students… I also appreciate the emphasis on teacher recruitment and retention… In the coming weeks and months we will work with the House and Senate to create a bipartisan solution that improves student achievement, empowers educators and maximizes local control.”

The Washington Education Association a more critical view of the plan.
https://action.washingtonea.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12646

Here is what the WEA had to say about the Republican Plan

“Though it purports to add funding, take a look at what it really does:
Cuts pay for many teachers…
Slashes special ed funding by prohibiting use of local funds for special ed.
Freezes funding for small rural districts.
Increases class size… by eliminating I-1351.
Lowers teaching requirements, allowing anyone to teach as long as they pass a basic background test. No teaching certificates would be required.
Expands the number of charter schools.
Privatizes public education.
Severely limits collective bargaining, the right to strike and due process.
It goes without saying that WEA adamantly opposes this proposal.”

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A Review of Crimes Already Committed by the leaders of Both Major Political Parties Against Our Kids
Before we get into the serious flaws of the Republican Plan, which are way more serious than any of the above comments by the WEA would indicate, let’s first review the crimes already committed against our kids by the Washington State Legislature. Note that a “crime” is a serious voilation of the law. A lot of people do not understand this, but our State Constitution is not just a series of suggestions, it is the highest law in Washington State. So violating our state constitution is actually committing a crime. The Washington State Constitution has the strongest school funding language of any constitution in the nation. Here is just a couple of quotes for those who may not have read it.

Article 9.1: Unlike other states, which made it the duty of the legislature to adequately fund our schools, the drafters of our State Constitution created a shared Paramount Duty – a duty applied to the entire State Government including the Supreme Court – when they wrote Article 9, Section 1: “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.”

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Paramount means the highest and most important duty.

Article 9.2: The first sentence in Article 9, Section 2 of our state constitution states:
“The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools.”

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This sentence means that the legislature must provide the funds for a uniform system of public schools. Our state constitution specifically prohibits a system of rich schools that can pass local levies and poor schools that cannot pass a local levy. It also prohibits a two-tier system of public schools in which some kids get a qualified teacher while other schools get a babysitter or no teacher at all. Uniform means that all kids are treated about the same and have the same right to a real education. These are the two laws that led to the McCleary lawsuit and the two laws that our Supreme Court have been trying – without much success – to get the State legislature to comply with.

Here are ten reasons parents & teachers should oppose the Republican Plan:

#1: The Republican Plan fails to even mention the real problem which is skyrocketing tax breaks for the rich.
The real problem – which neither party in Olympia is willing to discuss much less address – is that tax breaks for the rich get higher every year. Our currupt legislature currently gives away four dollars in tax breaks for the rich for every dollar we invest in our public schools.

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Spending $40 billion per year on tax breaks for the rich leaves nothing left to fund our schools:

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This is despite the fact that tax breaks for wealthy corporations are specifically prohibited by our state constitution.

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Because of these illegal tax breaks for the rich, robbing billions of dollars from our schools every year, our schools are in a state of crisis. Our students are currently forced to deal with among the highest class siizes in the nation as a result of the fact that our state has among the lowest school funding in the nation as a percent of income (which is the most accurate way to measure school funding).

#2 The Republican Plan is based on lies such as the claim that the legislature has already added “billions of dollars in funding for schools.”
Legislators falsely claim that they have provided “billions of dollars” in additional school funding in the past 4 years. This is a lie. In fact, they simply moved money around from one account to another. If the legislature actually had increased funding for our schools, we would have more teachers. In fact, while the number of students has risen by nearly 100,000 in the past six years, the number of teachers has declined by over one thousand – meaning that class sizes are rising rapidly. How can Washington have billions of dollars in additional education funding – as claimed by our legislature and not hire a single new teacher?

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#3 The Republican Plan would repeal Initiative 1351 (the Class Size Initiative) thus increasing rather than reducing class sizes.
Our schools have among the highest class sizes in the nation. Here is a distribution of class sizes showing which states have low, average, above average or extremely high class sizes:

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For Grades 1 through 6, the national average class size is 21 students while the average class size in Washington state is 24 students. For Grades 7 through 12, the national average class size is 27 students and the average class size in Washington state is 30 students. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_209.30.asp

High class sizes mean that struggling students do not get the help they need while our teachers are faced with the impossible task of training to instruct too many students.

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Initiative 1351 would lower class sizes in Washington state down to about the national average. This would require hiring more than 10,000 teachers and building hundreds of urgently needed schools. Because legislators would rather keep giving away billions of dollars in tax breaks to the rich every year, they want to repeal Initiative 1351.

#4 The Republican Plan fails to even mention our school construction crisis
Half of our schools do not meet the health code standards or the earthquake standards. Half of our schools have water damage (which leads to mold and other toxins). Half have poor air quality. Thirty percent of our schools are estimated to have excessive lead in the water (which causes brain damage in children). Think Flint Michigan on a massive scale. Most of these problems are related to older schools. Half of our schools are more than 50 years old.

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The legislature only provides about $300 per student for school construction – when what is actually needed is 10 times this amount – or $3,000 per student. As a consequence of the legislature’s gross negligence in failing to pay for school construction and repair, the school construction backlog in our state has risen to more than $24 billion.

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It is likely that the Democrats plan will also fail to address our school construction backlog (because the Democrats also want to protect billions in tax breaks for the rich). Thus, the school construction crisis will continue to get worse every year as our kids are forced to spend their school days in unsafe, unhealthy classrooms that make them and their teachers sick.

#5 The Republican Plan claims to increase school funding while reducing property taxes. In fact, it reduces school funding while increasing local property taxes.

The Washington Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled over the past 40 years that local levies are unconstitutional because they result in a two-tier system of rich schools that can pass a local levy versus poor schools that cannot. Local Levies are also not a “reliable” source of revenue. Thus, local levies violate Sections 9.1 and 9.2 of the Washington State Constitution. Yet, despite this fact, by starving schools of the funds they need to operate, the State legislature has forced school districts to raise more than $2 billion per year in local levy funds – double what it was 20 years ago – just to keep their doors open.

The Republican Plan correctly repeals all local levies for funding basic education. This eliminates $2 billion per year in local funding. But the Republican Plan then only increases State Funding through the new “Local Levy” by $1.4 billion – guting over half a billion dollars from school funding!

The Devil is in the Details: According to the Republican Plan, the local levy would change to “$1.80 per thousand dollars of assessed value.” They admit that the average local levy is currently $2.54 per thousand. They then claim that this reduction in property taxes would result in an increase in school funding. Some Democrats have called this a “shell game.” but it is worse than a shell game. It is a con game because instead of merely transferring money around this plan actually reduces TOTAL school funding.

Here is the language from their proposal: “The local effort levy is a permanent property tax levy levied on behalf of school districts by the state. It is not an excess levy. The local effort levy tax rate cannot exceed $1.80 per thousand dollars of assessed value. The tax rate may be phased down to a rate not lesser than $1.25 per thousand dollars of assessed value.”

If the rate were phased down to $1.25 per thousand, then the amount gutted from school funding would exceed one billion dollars per year – meaning the firing of more than 10,000 teachers!

How can they claim they are increasing school funding when they are actually decreasing school funding by up to one billion dollars per year?

Here is the next sentence in their proposal (read it slowly. It may take several readings to understand what it is really saying):

“The state backfills the amount necessary to reach the basic per pupil guaranteed funding level after applying the local effort levy but also establishes a minimum amount to be provided by the state.”

Put in plain English, the legislature would be required to “make up” the net loss of one billion dollars in local levy funds by gutting funding for other programs. Where will this additional billion dollars per year come from? There is only one “descretionary” item left in the State budget that is this large – it is the one billion per year our state invests in higher education. So the Republican plan not only fails to restore public school funding – it would also require eliminating nearly all state funding for higher education (which is currently about one billion dollars per year).

How the Republican Plan increases Property taxes on Local Homeowners:
While property taxes would decrease in some rural school districts, the total property tax rate would increase in urban and some suburban school districts. For example, the current local levy rate in the Seatte School district is $1.31 per thousand. Under the Republican plan, this new Local Levy rate would increase to $1.80 per thousand. For a $500,000 home in Seattle, homeowners would see their local taxes go up by $250 per year – while school funding in Seattle would decline by millions of dollars per year and funding for “descretionary” items like higher education would decline by more than one billion dollars per year.

In summary, the Levy Swap is really a Levy Swipe of more than one billion dollars per year from urban and suburban school districts mainly in King County with these funds being transferred to rural school districts in other counties around the state. I agree that rural school districts around our state are grossly under-funded. But the solution is not to rob urban and sub-urban school districts because they are also grossly under-funded. Nor is the solution to gut funding for higher education – which is also grossly underfunded. Nor is the solution to rob tax payers in King County – because their property taxes have already increased more than 100% in the past 20 years. The solution is to repeal the illegal tax breaks for the rich.

#6 The Republican Plan Reduces Rather than Increases Teacher Pay
The Republican Plan claims to increase the minimum teacher pay from $35,700 to $45,000 per year. In fact, what the Republican plan really does is completely eliminate real teachers by eliminating state regulations which currently require teachers to be fully trained and fully certified. Here is the quote from the Republican Plan: “School districts that meet performance standards are exempt from most state regulations… Districts gain flexibility to hire non-traditional teachers.” So real teachers could be replaced not only by non-qualified or poorly trained substitutes, they could be eliminated altogether and replaced by computer programs.

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In addition, the Republican plan would eliminate the teachers union by eliminating the right of teachers to strike over either low pay or high class sizes.

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#7 The Republican Plan Severely Harms Students by Falsely Labeling Most of them as Failures
Here is a quote from the Republican Plan: “By 2020 all districts have the goal of 86% (of all third grade students) meeting state standard in 3rd grade literacy. Only 54% (of all third grade students) met state standards in 2015-16 school year.”

The problem is that the standards refered to in the plan are not reasonable grade level standards written by child development specialists. Instead, they are the grotesque Common Core standards written by Wall Street consultants who have no idea of what a Third Grader is actually capable of achieving. These fake Common Core standards severely harm children by falsely labeling them as failures. For example, Common Core math standards require children to engage in Abstract Reasoning when most Third Graders are not capable of engaging in Abstract Reasoning.

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The Common Core standards are measured on an extremely harmful test called the SBAC test – which is a test deliberately designed to fail most of the students who take it. Here is the results of the SBAC test compared to previous Washington state tests:

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Note that 86% of Washington State students passed the NAEP test (the National Assessment of Educational Progress). This places Washington state students as among the highest scoring students in the United States and in the world. Meanwhile only 39% of these same students passed the 2015 SBAC test.

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Instead of shaming our kids and our teachers by falsely labeling them as failures, we should be honoring them for how well they do despite the lack of state funding!

#8 The Republican Plan would decrease rather than increase the Graduation Rate in Washington State
The Republican Plan demands an increase in the Graduation Rate from 78% to 89% in the next 3 years. Yet we know that the only proven way to increase the graduation rate is to lower class sizes so that struggling students can get the help they need to succeed in school and succeed in life.

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While there are many causes of school dropouts, one of the primary causes is extremely high class sizes. High class sizes prevent struggling students from getting the help they need to succeed in school. We have known for many years that smaller class sizes make a huge difference for struggling students. In 2005, a summary was published of the largest class size experiment ever conducted. Here is the link:
Finn & Gerber, 2005 Small Class Sizes and Graduating from High School, Journal of Educational Psychology, 97 (2), 214-223. (Data from Tennessee STAR Study) https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/edu-972214.pdf

This study confirmed that even just four years in small classes increased the Graduation Rate from 70% to 88% The STAR experiment was conducted in Tennessee from 1985 to 1990. About 12,000 students in 80 schools were randomly assigned with 6000 students assigned to a small class size of 15 to 18 students while the other 6000 students were assigned to a regular class size of 22 to 25 students in grades K through 3. In the 4th grade, all students were returned to regular size classes. Students in smaller classes had fewer attendance problems, fewer discipline problems, and much higher test scores.

The helpful effect of small class sizes was most noticeable among lower income and minority students. For example, the drop out rate 12 years later among low income students was cut from 30% to only 12%. Put another way, the graduation rate among low income and minority students skyrocketed from 70% to 88%. Small class sizes were able to greatly reduce and in many cases completely eliminate the so-called “Achievement Gap” or difference between higher income and lower income students. In addition, lower class sizes reduces the teacher attrition rate.

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But lowering class sizes requires hiring more teachers and building more schools which in turn requires ending or at least reducing tax breaks for the rich. This is why lowering class sizes is not even being discussed ny either political party in Olympia.

#9 The Rebublican Plan Privatizes Nearly Every School in Washington State
No school district in the nation has ever had 86% of Third Graders passing the SBAC test – nor can this ever happen because the test is specifically designed to fail 50% or more of all kids. Thus, the Republican Plan is designed to falsely label every school district in Washington state as a failure. After being labeled as a failure, these school districts will all be open to being privatized and handed over to For Profit Wall Street Raiders.

Here is the language in the Republican Plan: “Up to 5% of schools not meeting standards can apply to be an innovation district.”

“Innovative School District” means a school district that is handed over to Wall Street raiders who then turn around and fire all of the real teachers replacing them typically with computer programs that do not actually help children.

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While the language sounds like it would be limited to 5% of all schools, in fact because every school district in the state would be labeled a failure by the Republican Plan, every school district would be at risk for being privatized. The public goal of these racketeers is not just to privatize a few public schools – it is to privatize all of them.

Four Steps to Converting All Public Schools to For Profit Online Schools

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Online charter schools have a graduation rate of only 20 to 30% – meaning that they fail nearly all students. In fact, many students score more poorly at the end of a year in an online charter school math test than they did at the beginning of the year. So the goal is not to help students, it is to make billions of dollars by destroying students.

#10 The Republican Plan is not about Funding our Public Schools, it is about Destroying them.
The Republican Plan is really the Billionaires Plan. Billionaires do not like public schools because they do not like Democracy. Thomas Jefferson noted that our public schools are the foundation not only of economic prosperity but also of our democracy. When students are brainwashed by online charter schools, it will be easier for billionaires to control them.

To learn more about the billionaires plan to destroy and take over our public schools, go to the following website:
https://weaponsofmassdeception.org/

Conclusion… It is time for Teachers and Parents to Wake Up and starting doing some serious research!
The WEA is currently supporting the Governors plan for school funding. This plan would impose about one billion dollars in carbon taxes every year and another one billion in capital gains taxes every year. Some of this new money might go towards schools. But given what usually happens in Olympia, this new revenue is just as likely to go into more tax breaks for the rich. I will write a detailed summary of the Democrats Plan after it is released. In the meantime, there are real solutions to the school funding crisis. I describe these solutions in detail at the following website:
https://springforbetterschools.org/

Put simply, we do not need any new laws and we do not need any new taxes. All we need to do is enforce the Washington State Constitution by demanding that all 700 tax breaks for wealthy corporations be declared null and void. In addition, we need to start a Public Bank in Washington state like the Bank of North Dakota. This would save more than $4 billion per year we are currently sending to Wall Street Banks. To learn more about this, please read the following website:
https://washingtonpublicbankcoalition.org/

As always, I look forward to your comments and questions.

Regards,
David Spring M. Ed.
Coalition to Protect our Public Schools
Originally published at CoalitionToProtectOurPublicSchools

Answers to the Supreme Court McCleary Questions

On July 14, 2016, the Washington Supreme Court ordered the State to appear before it on September 7 2016 to provide specific answers to 8 questions the Supreme Court raised in their Order regarding how and when the legislature will comply with our State Constitution Paramount Duty to fully fund our schools. In this article, I provide my answers to these 8 questions. As the voters have a right to know where each candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction stands on these important issues, I encourage the other candidates for State Superintendent to do the same. If you are concerned about school funding, I hope you will share this article with other parents and teachers – and be sure to mail in your ballot by Tuesday, August 2nd.

Here is a link to the Supreme Court 2016 McCleary Order. It is only a couple of pages long. http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/publicUpload/Supreme%20Court%20News/OrderMcClearyv.StateofWashington071416.pdf

Here are a couple of slightly edited quotes from the Order: “Before making a decision on whether the State is in compliance, we will hear from the parties on precisely what the legislature has accomplished, what remains to be accomplished…The 2017 legislative session presents the last opportunity for complying with the State’s paramount duty by 2018. At this juncture, seven years since enactment of ESHB 2261 and six years since enactment of SHB 2776, the State can certainly set out for the court and the people of Washington the detailed steps it must take to accomplish its goals by the end of the next legislative session. Therefore, by unanimous vote, the court directs the parties to appear before the court on September 7, 2016, for oral argument… where the State will be expected to provide specific and detailed answers to the following eight questions:

(a) whether the State views the 2018 deadline as referring to the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, to the end of the 2017-2018 fiscal year, to the end of 2018, or to some other date;

(b) whether E2SSB 6195, when read together with ESHB 2261 and SHB 2776, satisfies this court’s January 9, 2014, order for a plan and, if not, what opportunities, if any, remain for the legislature to provide the plan required by that January 9, 2014, order;

(c) the estimated current cost of full state funding of the program of basic education… including, but not limited to, the costs of materials, supplies, and operating costs; transportation; and reduced class sizes for kindergarten through third grade and all-day kindergarten, with the costs of reduced class sizes and all-day kindergarten to include the estimated capital costs;

(d) the estimated cost of full state funding of competitive education staff salaries, including the costs of recruiting and retaining competent staff;

(e) the components of basic education, if any, the State has fully funded in light of the costs specified above;

(f) the components of basic education, including basic education staff salaries, the State has not yet fully funded in light of the costs specified above, the cost of achieving full state funding and how the State intends to meet its constitutional obligation to implement its plan of basic education through dependable and regular revenue sources by that deadline;

(g) whether this court should dismiss the contempt order or continue sanctions; and

(h) any additional information that will demonstrate to the court how the State will fully comply with article IX, section 1 by 2018.”

Here are my answers to the eight questions raised by our State Supreme Court:

#1 What is the exact 2018 Deadline?
(a) whether the State views the 2018 deadline as referring to the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, to the end of the 2017-2018 fiscal year, to the end of 2018, or to some other date;

There has been a lot of debate about what the deadline is for the State legislature to honor our State Constitution. The plaintiffs have claimed that it is the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year. Some in the legislature have claimed that they do not need to fully fund the schools even by the 2018- 2019 school year. My view is that even a one day violation of a student’s right to an education is a severe violation of our state constitution. Imagine a reckless driver going 75 MPH in a 25 MPH school zone – endangering the lives of students. The reckless driver then goes before the court and tells the judge they will start obeying the speeding laws 6 or 7 years from now. The court should not accept any delay in obeying the law. Justice delayed is justice denied. Students are harmed much more by being forced to attend the most over-crowded and under-funded schools in the nation than they are by a reckless driver. Our kids have only one chance at a quality education. For the legislature to claim they can delay funding schools past September 2017 is reckless, irresponsible, immoral and against the clear language of the Washington State Constitution.

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As a practical matter, the legislature must plan and provide for state funding months and years before it is actually needed. For example, the 2017 legislative session, also called the long session, is supposed to create a fiscal plan for the two year period that begins on July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2019. This includes both the September 2017 to June 2018 school year and the September 2018 to June 2019 school year. However, this fiscal spending plan is based on a revenue plan that must precede spending. Any tax changes from the 2017 legislative session, whether they are property tax changes or other tax changes, would not go into effect until January 2018 – to late to provide funds for the September 2017 school year. Schools would need to be built prior to September 2017. Since it takes at least one year to build a new school, the construction would need to have been started in the summer of 2016 and teachers would need to be hire by July 2017. Therefore it is already too late for the State to comply with the McCleary Order by September 2017 regardless of what the 2017 legislature does!

#2 Is the Plan to Create a Plan (aka Senate Bill 6195) is a real plan?
(b) whether E2SSB 6195, when read together with ESHB 2261 and SHB 2776, satisfies this court’s January 9, 2014, order for a plan and, if not, what opportunities, if any, remain for the legislature to provide the plan required by that January 9, 2014, order;

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I testified against Senate Bill 6095, the plan to create a plan, because it is a worthless fake “kick the can down the road” exercise that pretends that the legislature does not know what it costs to fund schools – even though the legislature has had more than six previous planning committees answer the exact same questions that the new committee is asking.

The previous plan completed in 2012 did a detailed analysis of the cost to pay for House Bill 2261 and Senate Bill 2776 and concluded that it would cost about $6 billion in operating costs per year. This included one billion to restore teacher pay and one billion to replace illegal local levies. But it did not include the cost of school construction. Since our state has a $30 billion school construction backlog with half of our schools not meeting either the health code or earthquake standards, providing every student with a safe and healthy school would cost an additional $3 billion per year for the next 10 years. This brings the total known cost up to more than $9 billion per year – essentially doubling school funding – which is exactly what I have proposed doing throughout my campaign. This would also address the Class Size Initiative which is also part of state law and basic education. See page 49 of the following report. http://www.k12.wa.us/Compensation/CompTechWorkGroupReport/CompTechWorkGroup.pdf

My proposal is to ask the Supreme Court to repeal all 700 illegal tax breaks to wealthy corporations (which are contrary to several sections of our state constitution).

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This would provide not only provide an additional $9 billion annually to to fully fund our schools but also provide every student in our state with a free college education and/or vocational training AND also end child homelessness.

Sadly, no other candidates for Superintendent have any plan to provide the $9 billion annually to fully fund our schools. In fact, no one in the legislature has any plan to provide more than a small fraction of the $9 billion in additional revenue needed to fund school operation and construction. So the answer to whether Senate Bill 6095 would meet the McCleary obligation is No.

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The State will claim that the legislature will find a way to fund our schools in the 2017 session. But the fact is that Olympia is completely owned by wealthy corporations so there is no chance that they will repeal the billions in tax breaks for wealthy corporations. Instead, they will likely be completely gridlocked, fake their way through several “do-nothing” special sessions and then present yet another fake plan to the Supreme Court. And our kids will be forced to deal with yet another year of the lowest funded most over-crowded schools in the nation.

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#3 What is the cost of full state funding for public schools?

(c) the estimated cost of full state funding of basic education… including, but not limited to, the costs of materials, supplies, and operating costs; transportation; and reduced class sizes for kindergarten through third grade and all-day kindergarten, with the costs of reduced class sizes and all-day kindergarten to include the capital costs;

As noted above, a 2012 highly detailed study estimated that the cost was an additional $6 billion in operating costs. The study did not include capital school construction costs. Adding $3 billion per year for the next 10 years, the total additional revenue needed is more than $9 billion per year.

#4 What is the additional cost needed to end the teacher shortage?

(d) the estimated cost of full state funding of competitive education staff salaries, including the costs of recruiting and retaining competent staff;

Washington state has the 4th lowest paid and most overworked teachers in the nation. The 2012 study estimated that it would cost at least one billion additional dollars just to restore teacher pay to what it was in the 1990s. Hiring additional teachers and staff to lower class sizes as required by the Class Size Initiative would require several more billion dollars.

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#5 What has the legislature done since the January 2012 McCleary Order?

(e) the components of basic education, if any, the State has fully funded in light of the costs specified above;

Many in the legislature claim that the legislature has put billions of additional dollars into funding our schools in the past four years. But all the legislature really did was move money around from one account to another. The fact is that since the January 2012 Supreme Court order the number of students in our schools has increased by more than 32,000 students while the number of teachers declined by more than 1,000 teachers!

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Every year, our school funding crisis has gotten worse and worse and class sizes have gotten higher and higher. So the honest answer to the Supreme Court’s question is that the legislature has not done anything at all to improve school funding in Washington state.

#6 How the legislature will come up with the additional $9 billion from dependable revenue sources? (f) the components of basic education, including staff salaries, the State has not yet fully funded in light of the costs specified above, the cost of achieving full state funding and how the State intends to meet its constitutional obligation to implement its plan of basic education through dependable and regular revenue sources;

Currently, the legislature is under-funding our schools by at least $9 billion per year. This includes one to two billion dollars in illegal, unfair and unconstitutional local levy funds – which have creates a system of rich school districts that can pass school levies and poor school districts that cannot pass school levies. The $9 billion dollar question is how the legislature will suddenly come up with the needed $9 billion in 2017 when they have done next to nothing during the past four years.

The only solution to this crisis is to understand where the robbery went in the first place. Since 1996 (the last time school funding in Washington state was above the national average), the legislature has passed an additional 300 tax breaks costing our schools $16 billion per year in lost revenue. It is only by repealing these illegal tax breaks to wealthy corporations that we have any hope at all of restoring school funding. But the problem is that the legislature is owned by these very wealthy corporations. So there will be no reductions in corporate tax breaks.

So it will be up to the Superintendent of Public Instruction to use Article 3, Section 22 of the State Constitution to go around the legislature and directly to the Supreme Court asking them to declare these tax breaks to be unconstitutional. If I am elected, I will do this during my first week in office.

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Sadly, none of the other candidates are willing to take on the corporate welfare that is preventing us from fully funding our schools. So if I am not elected, our kids will be forced to endure yet another 4 years of the lowest funded most over-crowded schools in the nation.

#7 Should the Supreme Court continue sanctions?
(g) whether this court should dismiss the contempt order or continue sanctions;

The Supreme Court should not only continue the sanctions, they should state that if the legislature does not fully fund our schools by July 1, 2017, that the Court will declare all 700 corporate tax breaks to be null and void.

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#8 Additional Evidence that the legislature will NOT comply with their Paramount Duty to fully fund or schools? (h) any additional information that will demonstrate to the court how the State will fully comply with article IX, section 1 by 2018.

There are a whole host of reasons to conclude that the legislature will NEVER comply with their Paramount Duty to fully fund our schools. First, despite a direct order to pay a fine of $100,000 per day deposited into a fund dedicated for education, the legislature refused to pay the fine. Second, the legislature responded to the Class Size Initiative by delaying it for several years. Third, even after the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the legislature failed to comply with their Paramount Duty to fund our schools, the legislature passed the second Boeing Tax Break – the largest tax break in the history of the planet. Fourth, since 2012, the legislature has continued to pass many tax breaks while no one in the legislature even submitted a single bill to fully fund our public schools. Fifth, the legislature has failed to fully fund our schools for more than 20 years – 1996 being the last time school funding in Washington state was above the national average.

But perhaps the strongest evidence that our current legislature has no intention of ever funding our schools is a line buried on about Page 200 of every annual appropriations bill passed since 2012 – prohibiting the State Health Department from even testing whether schools are meeting health and safety standards. The leaders of the legislature know that half of our schools are more than 50 years old and do not meet health code standards. Half of our schools do not meet earthquake code standards. Given that we have more than 2000 schools, this means that more than 1000 schools in Washington state are not a safe, healthy place for our kids. At an average replacement cost of $30 million per school, it would take more than $30 billion to rebuild these 1,0000 dangerous schools.

So what is the legislature’s response to this crisis? Every year for the past four years, they have included a line in the annual Appropriations bill prohibiting the State Department of Health from documenting the health and safety problems of our schools. Even worse, our current State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Randy Dorn, is also aware of this Code of Silence and has actively helped to keep parents in the dark about the dangerous state of our public schools.

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What will happen when the legislature fails to fully fund our schools in 2017?
The current Superintendent has submitted two briefs to the Court. The first one asked the Court to shut down our public schools being July 1, 2017. The second asked the Court to declare one billion dollars in local levies to be unconstitutional – thus depriving local school districts of one billion dollars at a time when they are already grossly underfunded. If the Court takes either of these actions, it will severely harm our students when the real culprits are the State legislature and the wealthy corporations who use illegal tax breaks to rob our schools of billions of dollars.

More important, closing schools or depriving them of funds is not likely to solve the school funding crisis. The only action that will solve the school funding crisis is for the Court to declare billions in tax breaks for wealthy corporations to be unconstitutional.

Sadly, parents in Washington state seem to be asleep on the importance of this election for State Superintendent and the role they could play in restoring full funding for our schools. With only three days left for parents to mail in their ballots, only 15% of ballots have been received. At this rate, it is possible that only one in four of Washington’s four million registered voters will turn in their ballots. I therefore urge you to email every parent and teacher you know and encourage them to mail in their ballot by Tuesday August 2nd.

Decoding the Fake Five Billion Increase in School Funding in Washington State

Many in the Washington legislature claim they increased school funding by nearly $5 billion in the past 4 years. If our schools have $5 billion more than they had 4 years ago, then why do our schools have one thousand fewer teachers than we had 4 years ago? In their June 17 2016 court filing, the McCleary plaintiffs claimed that the $5 billion increase in funding was an “illusion” and less than a mere “maintenance level of status quo education funding.” In this report, we will decode the fake $5 billion increase in school funding in Washington state to explain why the McCleary plaintiffs are correct. Don’t be fooled by dishonest legislators. Our schools are facing a funding crisis that is getting worse every year. Our class sizes are among the highest in the nation and getting higher every year. Class sizes are so high that teachers are quitting in droves. Half of our schools do not even have enough qualified math and science teachers. Legislators who claim that they are “making progress on school funding” should be ashamed of themselves. There has been no progress at all in the past 4 years. Please share this important report with parents and teachers.

We will begin with a quote from the State legislature’s latest June 17 2016 filing to the Washington Supreme Court: “The State has made very real and concrete progress since 2012. In attempting to discredit that progress, Plaintiffs wrongly claim that the $4.8 billion increase in education funding between the 2011-13 biennium and the 2015-17 biennium is illusory and is actually less than if the State had merely maintained the “status quo” level of services… The enacted public schools budget for 2015-17 was $18.2 billion. That was an increase from the approximately $15.3 billion for public schools in 2013-15, which had increased from approximately $13.4 billion in the 2011-13 budget.” http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/publicUpload/Supreme%20Court%20News/619aReply_AmResp20160617.pdf

Here is a chart showing biennial (two year) state spending on our public schools since the beginning of the 2007 McCleary Education Funding Case:

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It certainly looks like there was nearly a $5 billion increase in state spending on our public schools in the past 4 years. This would be a 36% increase in school funding!

But if there was really a 36% increase in school funding, then why wasn’t there a 36% increase in the number of teachers? Why did the number of teachers go down by one thousand rather than going up by ten thousand? The McCleary Plaintiffs have called this $4.8 billion ($2.4 billion per year) increase in spending an “illusion” because it is less than what would have been spent by a mere “maintenance of service” budget. To understand this, let’s look at a Maintenance of Service budget. A Maintenance of Service budget includes adjusting for the increased cost of living from year to year plus the increase in the number of students. A Maintenance of Service budget would have involved an increase of about 5% per year or 10% per biennium. To keep the math simple, we will assume that 10% is $1.4 billion per biennium (10% of $14 billion).

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Thus, a Maintenance of Services budget would have resulted in school funding being nearly one billion dollars greater than the $4.8 billion increase the legislature is bragging about. Here is a chart of the increase in the number of students in Washington State since January 2012 from the OSPI Report Card:

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When the actual budget is less than the maintenance budget, school districts are forced to fire teachers and increase class sizes. Here is a chart of the reduction in the number of teachers in Washington state since January 2012 from the OSPI Report Card:

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Note that the actual number of real classroom teachers is about 20,000 less than this because many school districts incorrectly report administrators as classroom teachers. We know this because the median actual class size in Washington state is more than 30 students – and getting higher and higher every year. However, because the reporting method has not changed, we can be certain that the actual number of classroom teachers declined by more than one thousand during the four years since the January 2012 Supreme Court ruling. Even in 2012, class sizes in Washington state were among the highest in the nation.

The most accurate estimate of class sizes comes from a national survey of classroom teachers in which teachers are asked how many students are in their average classroom. This survey indicates that for Grades 1 through 6, the national average class size is 21 students and the average class size in Washington state is 24 students. For Grades 7 through 12, the national average class size is 27 students and the average class size in Washington state is 30 students. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_209.30.asp

Here is a distribution of class sizes showing which states have low, average, above average or extremely high class sizes:

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However, even this survey of teachers under-reports the actual class sizes in the nation and in Washington state because it includes Special Education teachers who often have classes of under 10 students. Excluding Special Education classes, the typical or median class size in the US is likely close to 29 students and in Washington state, it is likely close to 32 students.

How can Washington have $4.8 billion in additional education funding – a 36% increase – and not hire a single new teacher?
There are several factors that contribute to the “illusion” of increased funding. The first factor is fund transfers from one account to another. An example of this is transferring hundreds of millions of dollars from the school capital budget account to the school operating budget account. This results in the illusion of an increase in school funding. But because real school districts have to fund both operating and repairing schools, increasing operating funds while reducing funds in other areas does not actually result in a real increase in funds.

The second factor is unfunded mandates. For example, the legislature recently mandated that all schools in Washington state use the Common Core standards written by Wall Street consultants rather than the Washington state learning standards written by Washington state teachers. This forced school districts to replace hundreds of millions of dollars of text books with new Common Core aligned text books. The switch to the SBAC test, which requires computers to complete, required school districts to buy hundreds of millions of dollars of new computers and computer programs.

The third factor is the hidden cost of inflation also called the Maintenance of Services budget. Real inflation including the cost of health insurance, food and everything else is much higher than 5% per year. As we have previously shown, an increase of 5% a year would have been nearly one billion dollars higher than the current $18.2 billion per biennium. This is why a more accurate estimate of education funding is the Percent of Income method – which more accurately adjusts for the rising cost of living. Below is school funding in Washington state, as a percent of income compared to the national average. You can see that school funding in Washington state, as a percent of income, has been plunging for the past 20 years.

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The Levy Swipe will Rob One Billion dollars from King County Schools… Another Way to Increase State Spending without Hiring Teachers
These are not the end of the legislature’s deceptive tricks. In 2017, the legislature is likely to pass the Levy Swipe – which will rob one billion dollars in local levy funds from King County Schools and transfer it to the State General Fund where it will be used to increase funding for other school districts in the State by one billion dollars per year. This will increase State Spending for schools by $1 billion per year or $2 billion per biennium (to a total of $20 billion per biennium). But it will cause a loss of about 10,000 teachers in King County and an increase of 10,000 teachers in other parts of our state. Note that the total number of teachers statewide will not increase at all. This is the kind of nonsense that passes for “increasing school funding” in Olympia. Meanwhile, the deadline for fully funding our schools is the beginning of the 2017 school year – which is only one year away. McCleary v. State, 173 Wn.2d 477, 483, 269 P.3d 227 (2012)

We Must Change the Debate from Dollars to Class Size Limits
The real issue that students, parents and teachers must focus on is not some fake dollar amount that can be manipulated by our corrupt legislature but actual class sizes.Specifically, are class sizes small enough so that struggling students can get the help they need? Research such as the Tennessee STAR study confirms that actual class sizes must be below 20 students per class. Currently, class sizes in Washington are way too big at over 30 students per class. The problem with extremely high class sizes is that struggling students cannot get the help they need to succeed in school and succeed in life. Teachers burdened with extremely high class sizes also suffer from burnout – leading to the current shortage of experienced teachers. A June 2016 national study concluded that small class sizes were the single most important strategy for improving student outcomes – especially for improving outcomes among low income and minority students.
http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/publications/Mathis%20RBOPM-9%20Class%20Size.pdf

Meanwhile students in Washington state are forced to deal with the highest class sizes in the nation – a disaster that can only be changed by REAL increases in State funding for public schools.

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Instead of focusing in on dollars – which just leads to corrupt legislators playing a shell game with school funding and fake claims of billions of dollar increases, we should change the focus to lowering average and maximum class sizes to below 20 students per class. 37 states now have laws limiting the average and maximum class size. Thanks to Initiative 1351, Washington is now one of those 37 States. Initiative 1351 limits the maximum class size to 17 students in elementary school and 25 students in secondary school. Even this would be considered a high class size in many developed nations. For example, in Finland, the average class size for both elementary and secondary school is 20 students per class. http://www.oecd.org/edu/skills-beyond-school/48631144.pdf

The problem with Initiative 1351 is that it will cost billions of dollars to implement but did not come with a funding source. The lack of a funding source was the excuse used by the legislature to delay implementation of 1351 for the 2023 school year. But the good news is that this Class Size Limiting law is still on the books.

The Total Cost of Fully Funding Schools is More than $10 billion per year
Tom Ahearne, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the McCleary case, estimates that it will cost at least $8 billion more per biennium, plus an additional $2 billion in capital costs for new K-3 classrooms and all-day kindergarten. But he also thinks the minimum should include two other things: First, cost-of-living increases for school staff. Second, other capital expenses, like renovating school buildings that are falling apart. This would cost several more billion per year. Adding $10 billion per year would more than double state school funding here in Washington state (which is currently $9 billion per year). This may seem like a lot – but the legislature is currently giving away four dollars to wealthy corporations for every one dollar they invest in our schools.

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The truth is that the legislature would have plenty of money to fully fund schools and small class sizes, including Initiative 1351, if they did not give away $36 billion per year in tax breaks to wealthy multinational corporations.

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It is basic math. We cannot allow our legislature to give away $36 billion per year in tax breaks for wealthy corporations and still have enough money left to fully fund our schools and lower class sizes. This is why in their latest filing to the Supreme Court on June 17 2016, the plaintiffs for the McCleary case specifically asked the Court to declare tax breaks to be unconstitutional. Here is a quote from their brief:

“Plaintiffs continue to believe the most effective options to compel the significant revenue and funding actions needed to comply in that 2017 regular session are the school statute and tax exemption statute options discussed in plaintiffs’ prior filings… have all tax exemption statutes enacted by the legislature (before amply funding K-12 schools) struck down as unconstitutional, effective the first day of the 2017-2018 school year.
http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/publicUpload/Supreme%20Court%20News/PlaintiffsConsolidatedAnswerToJune7AmicusBriefs.pdf

Sadly, our corrupt legislature is not about to reduce these tax breaks. Instead, they have continued to increase tax breaks every year – despite a direct order from our Supreme Court to comply with their Paramount Duty to fully fund our schools. It is more likely that the legislature would rather see our schools closed in 2017 than to close tax loopholes for their corporate backers.

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Because the legislature will not really reduce tax breaks for the corporations that pay for their elections, the only REAL solution to the school funding crisis is for our Supreme Court to declare these billions in tax breaks to be unconstitutional – which is exactly what the McCleary plaintiffs have done.

But there is a fatal problem with their request to declare all tax exemptions to be unconstitutional. While the Supreme Court has the authority to declare laws (including tax exemptions) to be unconstitutional, the Supreme Court may not have the authority to declare what level of funding is constitutional. This brings up the question of what would happen next if the Supreme Court decided to grant the McCleary plaintiffs to relief they are requesting and declared billions of dollars in tax exemptions to be unconstitutional.

Here is what State claimed in their June 17 2016 response to the Plaintiffs brief:
“The Washington Constitution does not confer on Plaintiffs—or on the Superintendent of Public Instruction, for that matter—the authority to, determine the measure of ample funding under article IX, section 1. It is for the Legislature to determine in the first instance what constitutes “ample provision” for the State’s program of basic education.”
http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/publicUpload/Supreme%20Court%20News/619aReply_AmResp20160617.pdf

It is revolting that our Attorney General would write something so completely wrong. Article 9, Section 1 of our State Constitution does not grant the State legislature the right to determine what constitutes “ample provision” for the education of all children in our state. Instead, Article 9, Section 1 clearly assigns this Paramount Duty to the entire State Government – not merely to the State legislature!

Here is what Article IX, Section 1 of our State Constitution really says:

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While other state constitutions made it the duty of the state legislature to fund schools, the Washington Constitution made it the “paramount duty of the State.” Notice that Article 9 Section 1 does not merely refer to the State legislature. It refers to our entire State government – which includes the Governor and the Superintendent of Public Instruction. In other words, it is the Paramount Duty of every branch of State Government to make ample provision for the education of all children.

Also while other state constitutions use the term “make adequate provision”, the Washington State Constitution uses the term “make ample provision.” Clearly ample means more than the term adequate. So if Washington has the strongest duty for school funding in the nation, why are our schools among the lowest funded and most over-crowded in the nation? The legislature does have a specific duty which is described in Article 9, Section 2 of our State Constitution:

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The words “shall provide” means that it is the duty of the legislature to provide the funding as required by the State to amply fund our schools. But the legislature is not the only branch of state government. This leaves the question of which branch of state government is given the duty of determining what an ample level of funding would be for our public schools?

This question is clearly answered in Article 3, Section 22 of our State Constitution: “The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall have supervision over all matters pertaining to public schools.”

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The term “all matters” means that the Superintendent of Public Instruction, as a separately elected branch of state government shall have supervision over each and every aspect of our public schools – including the matter of what level of funding is required by our schools and whether or not the legislature is complying with their Paramount Duty to provide that level of funding. To make this point abundantly clear, the drafters of our state constitution included the following clause to Article 2, Section 28 prohibiting the legislature from interfering with the management of our public schools:

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The drafters of our state constitution stated that they wanted to limit the power of the legislature regarding our public schools because they feared that a corrupt legislature might drive our schools into the ground. This is why they wanted a separately elected Superintendent of Public Instruction to be in charge of all matters regarding our public schools.

This is also why the drafters of our State Constitution wanted an independent Supreme Court also elected directly by the people – to act as a check against a corrupt legislature passing laws that were contrary to the Paramount Duty of our State Constitution. Our Supreme Court clearly has the power to declare any statute to be invalid if that statute makes it impossible for the State to carry out its Paramount Duty of amply funding our public schools.

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Conclusion
If we are really going to solve the school funding crisis, voters need to become much more knowledgeable about the number of teachers and actual class sizes here in Washington state. When legislators are under-funding our schools by $10 billion per year, or $20 billion per biennium, then making claims about adding $5 billion per biennium, this is simply one more example of corrupt politicians trying to mislead the public.

We also need to be much more knowledgeable about where the money is really going to that has been diverted away from our public schools. Any politician that talks about any solution other than repealing tax breaks for wealthy corporations is misleading the public. The underlying cause of our school funding crisis is $36 billion per year in tax breaks for wealthy corporations.

Finally, voters need to become much more knowledgeable about our State Constitution. In our next article, we will take a closer look at the exact words used in our State Constitution, what they really mean, who put them there and why they were put there. The key to understanding our State Constitution is that it was written by people who deeply feared that a corrupt legislature would refuse to fund our public schools. So they put several clauses in our State Constitution specifically to take power AWAY from the legislature and put it in the hands of independently elected people with the hope that they would force the legislature to fund our schools. This is exactly where we are today.

As always, we look forward to your questions and comments.

Regards,
David Spring M. Ed.
Candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction

Originally published at Spring For Better Schools

Why Washington State has the Highest Class Sizes in the Nation

According to a January 2015 study of tax rates in all 50 states by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, called “Who Pays”, Washington families pay among the highest state taxes in the nation – 20% above the national average. Washington families should therefore have the best funded schools and lowest class sizes in the nation. Instead, Washington’s one million children are forced to endure the highest class sizes in the nation. How can this be? In this report, we will “follow the money” to see how the Washington state legislature is robbing our schools of billions of dollars and robbing our children of their future in order to line the pockets of a few billionaires and wealthy multinational corporations.

Why Small Class Sizes are Important
Small class sizes matter to the future of our students because small class sizes allow struggling students to get the help they need to succeed in school and succeed in life. For example, the nation’s largest study on class sizes found thatlow income students who were lucky enough to have four full years of smaller classes were much more likely to graduate than their peers who only had zero to one year in smaller class sizes:
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Source: Finn, J. D., et. al. (2005). Small Classes in the Early Grades, Academic Achievement, and Graduating From High School. Journal of Educational Psychology.
http://www.classsizematters.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Small-Classes-in-the-Early-Grades-Academic-Achievement-and-Graduating-From-High-School.pdf

A 2011 study, summarizing the life academic and economic outcomes of students in smaller classes in the STAR study compared to their peers who had normal class sizes, found that “The effects of class quality fade out on test scores in later grades but gains in non-cognitive measures persist.” Put in plain English, high stakes test scores are not an accurate predictor of future student performance. However, student engagement from small class sizes is predictive of future success as an adult.

Here are just some of the adult outcomes for these students 20 years later of being in a smaller class in elementary school: Students were significantly more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, start a savings account, buy a home, get married and stay married. Students were less likely to commit a crime or go to prison. Much of this information was obtained from federal tax returns of 95% of the nearly 12,000 students involved in the STAR study.
Source: Chetty, R., Friedman, J.N., Hilger, N., Saez, E., Schanzenbach, D.W., & Yagan D. (2011). How does your kindergarten classroom affect your earnings? Evidence from Project STAR. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 126(4), 1593-1660.
http://obs.rc.fas.harvard.edu/chetty/STAR.pdf

In a separate analysis, Alan Krueger, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, estimated that every dollar invested in reducing class sizes yielded about $2 in long term economic benefits. https://etec511.wikispaces.com/file/view/economic+considerations+and+class+size.pdf

Smaller Classes Lead to More Successful Students
Wealthy private schools understand the importance of small class size. For example, at Lakeside Private School in Seattle, average class sizes are 16 students. If class sizes of 16 students is considered ideal for the children of the wealthy, small class sizes of 16 students should be available to all students in Washington state.

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Sadly, Washington has the Highest Class Sizes in the Nation
Unfortunately, according to the National Center for Education Statistics Schools and Staffing Survey (Table 8), Washington State has the third highest class sizes in the nation for elementary school, the second highest class sizes in the nation for middle school and the second highest class sizes in the nation for high school. http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/sass/tables/sass1112_2013314_t1s_007.asp

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This estimate of class sizes comes from a national survey of classroom teachers in which teachers are asked how many students are in their average classroom. This survey indicates that for Grades 1 through 6, the national average class size is 21 students and the average class size in Washington state is 24 students. For Grades 7 through 12, the national average class size is 27 students and the average class size in Washington state is 30 students.http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_209.30.asp

Here is a distribution of class sizes showing which states have low, average, above average or extremely high class sizes:

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However, even this survey of teachers under-reports the actual class sizes in the nation and in Washington state because it includes Special Education teachers who often have classes of under 10 students. Excluding Special Education classes, the typical or median class size in the US is likely close to 29 students and in Washington state, the typical or median class size is close to 32 students per teacher per class period.

Why Actual Class Sizes are Much Larger Than Student to Teacher Ratios
The most common mistake made when discussing class size is to confuse class sizes with Student to Teacher Ratios. The Student to Teacher Ratio is determined by dividing the total number of students in a school or a state by the total number of professional staff at the school or the state. For example, if you go to the Washington State OSPI website and click on Apportionment, then Publications, then Personnel Summary Reports, then select a year, then click on Table 46, you will get a report called “Ratio of Students to Classrooms.” This is actually the Student to Teacher Ratio. For the 2014 school year, this ratio was 18.2 students per teacher. http://k12.wa.us/safs/PUB/PER/1415/tbl46.pdf

This type of statistic might mislead one into believing that the class sizes in Washington state are only 18 students – which would mean Washington state has the lowest class sizes in the nation and in the world. Yet if you walk into any real classroom at any real school in Washington state and count the actual students, you will see about 30 students in the real classroom. Many classrooms have 35 to even 40 students!

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The OSPI state report card is also misleading. It indicates that Washington state has 1,075,107 students and 60,543 Classroom Teachers. This would lead one to believe that the average class size is 18 students in our state. Why is there such a huge difference between the Student to Teacher ratio reported by OSPI and the number of students in real classrooms? The problem is that OSPI uses an extremely broad definition for classroom teacher. Many so-called classroom teachers are actually administrators. We need administrators. But we should not be misleading parents and voters by calling them teachers. Using Student to Teacher ratios misleads the public and even legislators into thinking that class sizes are not that bad when the truth is that class sizes in Washington state are among the highest in the nation.

In fact, using a real average class size of 30 students, the actual number of classroom teachers we have is about 36,000. This means that OSPI is mis-reporting 24,000 administrators as teachers. This also means that at 10,000 additional teachers per billion dollars, it would take about $3.6 billion dollars per year to cut class sizes in half here in Washington state. This does not include the cost of support staff or building the actual schools. Nor does it include raising the pay of teachers here in Washington state to the West Coast average or eliminating the use of local levy funds for basic education. My plan to cut class sizes in half therefore includes one billion dollars for replacing levy funds, one billion for increasing teacher pay, two billion for building hundreds of new schools every year, and four billion for hiring 36,000 new teachers and 4,000 additional support staff. The total needed to cut class sizes in half is about $8 billion in additional revenue per year.

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Where can we get $8 billion per year needed to cut class sizes in Washington state in half?
Given the fact that poor and middle class families in Washington state are already paying the highest state taxes in the nation, a more accurate question is where are the money went that should have gone to our public schools? It turns out that there is no need to increase taxes at all. What we really need to do is decrease tax breaks for the wealthy. It will be impossible to lower class sizes for struggling students until we first recognize and better understand how Washington legislators real Paramount Duty has not been our public schools but rather giving away more than $30 billion in tax breaks to wealthy multinational corporations (who pay for their re-elections). Here is a graph of the increase in the number of state tax breaks since 1996:

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Here is a graph of the increase in the dollar amount of the tax breaks in billions of dollars compared to total state revenue and spending for public schools:

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Understanding the Deceptive Nature of the Washington Department of Revenue Tax Break Reports
The Washington legislature has not only approved the largest tax breaks in the US, they have approved the largest most unsustainable tax breaks in the history of the world. This is why we now have such a broken tax system.

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Since tax breaks for the wealthy are what prevent us from fully funding schools, any parent or teacher who wants to understand why Washington has the highest class sizes in the nation must take time to understand how the public is being deceived about the amount of these state tax breaks. This subject is complex. So try to be patient, take your time and read slowly.

Every four years since 1984, the Washington State Department of Revenue is required by law to release a Tax Exemption Report. Here is a quote from RCW 43.06.400 authorizing this report: “Beginning in January 1984, and in January of every fourth year thereafter, the department of revenue must submit to the legislature prior to the regular session a listing of the amount of reduction for the current and next biennium in the revenues of the state or the revenues of local government collected by the state as a result of tax exemptions. The listing must include an estimate of the revenue lost from the tax exemption, the purpose of the tax exemption, the persons, organizations, or parts of the population which benefit from the tax exemption, and whether or not the tax exemption conflicts with another state program.

It should be obvious that giving away tens of billions of dollars in tax breaks every year conflicts with the Paramount Duty of the legislature to fully fund our public schools. Every billion dollars of tax exemptions means 10,000 more teachers losing their jobs and thousands of kids forced to endure higher class sizes. This fact is not mentioned on any of the tax break reports.

In January 2016, Vikki Smith, the current Director of the Washington State Department of Revenue released the 2016 Tax Exemption Report, which she called the 2016 Tax Exemption Study. I have spent more than 8 years researching and writing analysis of the previous four versions of this report and I will briefly summarize my findings here You can download a PDF file of this 910 page study at the following link:
http://dor.wa.gov/docs/reports/2016/Tax_Exemption_Study_2016/2016_Tax_Exemption_Study_Entire_Report.pdf

The Department of Revenue currently collects about $20 billion per year in taxes but also exempts at least $30 billion per year in state taxes. The DOR Tax Exemption Study attempts to describe the $30 billion per year in lost state revenue. These $30 billion in lost state revenue are “justified” by corrupt state legislators with the false claim that they “create jobs.” In fact, history shows that in nearly every case, tax exemptions to wealthy multinational corporations like Microsoft and Boeing do not create jobs. For example, after receiving billions in tax breaks, Boeing has laid off thousands of workers and used their tax breaks to build a non-union airplane manufacturing plant in South Carolina – firing thousands of Washington workers. Microsoft used their tax breaks to build sweat shops in China – also firing thousands of Washington workers.

However, as was true of the 2012 Report, authored by the former director of the Department of Revenue, Suzan Delbene, the 2016 report has several glaring omissions:

First, the 2016 study does not include the 1997 tax break on commercial intangible property. Since this is one of the largest of all the tax breaks accounting for several billion dollars in lost revenue with these benefits going almost entirely to three of the the richest people in the world, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and Paul Allen, one has to question the validity of the rest of the 2016 Tax Exemption Study.

Second, this report does not mention the billion dollar per year Microsoft Business and Occupation tax break. Microsoft achieves this tax break by claiming that they are located in Nevada – when everyone including the Washington State Department of Revenue knows they are located in Redmond Washington.

Third, this report does not fully analyze revenue lost by manipulating the Business and Occupational categories that alway some businesses to pay these taxes at an extremely low rate while other businesses pay these taxes at an extremely high rate. It simply assumes the previous manipulated B & O rate was somehow fair or accurate. A more consistent way to evaluate any tax would be against a set standards such as a one percent B & O tax.

Fourth, this report low balls the amount of revenue lost through tax breaks by falsely claims that repealing all 694 tax breaks (now up to more than 700 thanks to the 2016 legislature) would only generate about $30 billion. This claim is based on another blatantly false assumption that repealing the 1931 intangible property tax break on personal property would not generate more revenue but merely shift the burden of total property taxes away from some tax payers and to other tax payers. Here is a quote from Section 1, page 3 of the study: “Repealing a property tax exemption does not increase state revenues. Removing a property tax exemption broadens the tax base, and at the same time reduces the tax rates. This reduces the property taxes for existing taxpayers, and shifts property tax to currently exempt taxpayers.”

In fact, our state constitution has a one percent tax rate on all property. If you own a $200,000 home, one percent of that is $2,000 in property taxes. But if the value of your home doubles to $400,000, then one percent of that is $4,000. The state revenue is directly related to the value of property. So if the value of property doubles, the tax burden is not merely shifted from one tax payer to another – the total state and local taxes available doubles. How Vikki gets away with such an absurd statement is because local levy rates are set by the total amount of the levy and if the total amount did not raise then the burden would just shift from one property owner to another. What Vikki is ignoring is that the total levy is almost always limited by the one percent limit rule in our state constitution. Doubling the amount of property would double the revenue available for funding public schools.

Vikki next mistakenly assumes that the value of intangible property is only $2 trillion. Intangible personal property is discussed on page 17-458 of the 2016 tax exemption report. On page 459, Vikki states that her assumption is that the value of personal intangible property exempted is $1,907 billion or about $2 trillion or about the same as the value of tangible property in Washington state. The ratio of tangible to intangible property was 50-50 in the 1990s. But there has been a dramatic rise in the value of intangible property to the point where by 2010, intangible property accounted for about two thirds of all property. In other words, since we know that tangible property in our state

What is Intangible Property?
Tangible property is property you can touch –such as homes and commercial buildings. Intangible property includes all other forms of wealth – such as stocks, bonds and computer programs. Historically, intangible property accounted for a very small percent of all property. However, with the concentration of wealth in the hands of the very rich, intangible property now account for over 70% of all property. Over 90% of intangible wealth is owned by the top one percent of our richest citizens.

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Due to a rapid rise in the concentration of wealth in the hands of the richest one percent, and with nearly all of this wealth being in the form of intangible property, the amount of lost revenue due to this tax exemption has skyrocketed since 1997 to the point where it is now causing a loss of state funding of more than $4 billion per year.

It is no mere coincidence that our State has been short changing our public schools by billions of dollars a year ever since. As a direct result of this massive and unwise State tax give away, as well as the federal tax cuts since then, the wealth of the richest one percent of our population has DOUBLED in the past 20 years from 20% of our total wealth to 40% of our total wealth. This single exemption was responsible for $7 billion in state tax breaks per biennium or $3.5 billion in state tax breaks per year in 2008. This makes this single tax break much larger than any other tax break. The law allowing for this tax break is RCW 84.36.070. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=84.36.070

This massive 1997 tax loop hole has given billions of dollars in tax breaks to our richest citizens every year during the past 18 years by exempting over one trillion dollars of “intangible property” from our State property tax. It is the single largest tax break in the history of our state and bigger than the Billion Dollar Per Year Boeing Tax Break and the Billion Dollar Per Year Microsoft Tax Break combined!

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A Billion Dollar Shift in Property Tax Burden from Investors to Homeowners
One mechanism that led to this loss of state revenue was that wealthyinvestors suddenly had a huge financial incentive to mis-classify their commercial tangible property as intangible property. This is what many investors did – causing a huge shift in property tax burden from investors to homeowners. Here is a graph of this shift:

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Source: Washington State Department of Revenue http://dor.wa.gov/docs/reports/wa_tax_system_11_17_2004.pdf

The property tax burden on middle class homeowners has skyrocketed in the past 14 years as the ratio of commercial to residential tangible property has shifted from about 50-50 in 1997 to 66% residential to 33% commercial by 2006. When $100 billion dollars of commercial property is exempted from property taxes, residential property taxes must go up even if State and local spending remains the same.

As a consequence of these tax break for millionaires, and tax shifts to our middle class, our middle class now pay much more than the national average in State taxes while millionaires in our State pay much less than the national average. Working families see their tax bills go through the roof and they naturally assume that State spending is “Out of control.” But what is really out of control is tax breaks for billionaires.

We Can Cut Class Sizes in Half Just by Rolling Back Tax Breaks to 1996
In 1996, we had 400 tax breaks costing $20 billion. We now have more than 700 tax breaks for the rich costing our schools $30 billion. This includes the 1997 Intangible Property tax break that is so unfair and so costly that the Department of Revenue and the state legislature do not even want you to know about. It also includes most of the Boeing tax breaks and the Microsoft tax break.

So the question is what is more important? Helping Bill Gates and Paul Allen buy another private jet? Or helping one million students in Washington state get the education they need and deserve to succeed in school and succeed in life? If I am elected, I will file a motion for summary judgment immediately to declare every tax break passed since 1996 to be illegal, null and void and that the resulting $10 billion per year in additional state revenue be put in an account controlled by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. We could have full school funding restored in as little as 6 months.

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You now know why class sizes in our state are the highest in the nation. The fact is I am the only candidate even talking about the real cause of our massive class sizes. All of the other candidates like to talk about their “great relationships” with the very bandits who are robbing our schools of funding and our kids of their future. They perpetuate the myth that some how the legislature will suddenly come clean and start funding our schools “next year.” But all that will come out of Olympia next year is the same thing that came out of Olympia this year and last year and the year before that – more excuses and more lies. Did you know that 4 years after the Supreme Court McCleary ruling, we have 30,000 more kids – but 1,000 fewer teachers? All we got since McCleary was another fake committee and another hundred tax breaks for the rich!

This is why we need completely new leadership, more honest leadership, in Olympia. This is exactly what I will provide – real solutions – not merely marketing slogans. I therefore hope you will share this important article with every teacher and parent you know. Together, we can win this election and give our kids the education they deserve.

Originally published at SpringForPublicSchools.org

Why the Super Delegate Scam is Political Suicide for the Washington State Democratic Party

This is a message to the leaders of the Washington State Democratic Party: If you keep ignoring hundreds of thousands of independent voters, not only will we wind up with Donald Trump for President, but we will have a Republican Governor here in Washington State! Please read this article and please wake up to the reality of current voter preferences.

Here are a few math facts. There were about 150,000 people who pre-registered for the Washington Precinct Caucuses and 35,000 surrogate affidavits. Another 45,000 just showed up bringing the total to 230,000 caucus attendees. Most people indicated that it was their first caucus ever. They elected more than 26,000 delegates to the next level which is the Legislative District caucuses. Bernie Sanders won more than 19,000 of these delegates for 73% of the total vote. This should result in Bernie also winning 73% of the delegates to the Congressional Caucuses which should lead to Bernie winning 73% of the total 101 elected delegates – or about 75 delegates to Clinton’s 26 elected delegates. Bernie Sanders won in a landslide in every county in Washington state. This was the largest margin of victory of any Presidential caucus in Washington state history.
http://www.wa-democrats.org/local/county

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In addition, Washington State has 17 non-elected Super Delegates who supposedly can ignore the popular will of the people and vote for whoever they want. Ten of these super delegates have publicly supported Clinton. None so far have switched their support to Bernie Sanders despite his landslide victory on March 26th. If Clinton got all 17 Super Delegates, she would wind up with 43 delegates or 37% of the Washington delegates to the national convention even though she only got 27% of the votes at the Washington caucuses. The problem with rigging the nomination in this manner is that ignoring the will of the people is political suicide for the Washington State Democratic Party.

Here are some more math facts. Gallup polls show that since 2008, there has been a huge decline in the number of people who identify themselves as Democrats and Republicans and a dramatic rise in the number of people who identify as Independents.

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If Democrats ignore this huge group of Independent voters we are likely to lose the 2016 Presidential election. All of the latest polls show Bernie Sanders is much more likely than Hillary Clinton to defeat Donald Trump. Why is it that Bernie is more likely to beat Donald Trump? The answer is that Hillary is simply not trusted. 74% of all Independent swing voters do not trust Hillary to tell the truth. This matters because Independent Voters are now 43% of all voters. They will decide who the next President will be!

A poll of more than five thousand Independent Voters by the Independent Voter Project found that Bernie Sanders had the approval of 45%, Donald Trump had 26% and Hillary Clinton only had 9%. Bernie leads Hillary 5 to 1 and Donald leads her by 3 to 1!!!
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/9/17/1422117/-Poll-of-Independents-Sanders-45-Trump-26-HRC-9

In fact, many more Americans trust Donald Trump (41%) than trust Hillary Clinton (33%). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/h-a-goodman/bernie-sanders-will-becom_b_9289066.html

But losing the Presidential election is only the beginning of our problems if leaders of the Democratic Party continue to ignore the will of Independent voters. Here in Washington State, Democrats hold a slight edge over Republicans but Independent voters hold a huge edge over either political party. Let’s assume that Washington State has 25% Republicans, 30% Democrats and 45% Independent voters. This means that at the Democratic Party Caucuses, out of the 230,000 people, about 130,000 were Independent Voters supporting Bernie and only 100,000 were actual Democrats.

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Let’s further assume that 60% of actual Democrats supported Bernie and 40% supported Hillary but all of them would likely vote for either Bernie or Hillary in the General Election. This gives Hillary 40,000 Democratic votes and Bernie 60,000 Democratic votes. But Bernie beats Hillary among Independent votes by 5 to 1. Therefore, of the 130,000 Independent Voters at the caucuses, Bernie gets 110,000 Independent votes and Hillary gets 20,000. This gives Bernie a total vote of 170,000 votes and Hillary 60,000 votes. 170,000 votes just happens to be about 74% which closely matches what Bernie actually got.

These 110,000 Independent Washington Voters already think the Democratic Party is corrupt. They are only going to turn out and vote for the Democratic Party if Bernie is at the head of the ticket. So all loyal Democrats ought to be working like mad to make sure Bernie is at the head of the ticket.

But it is as important to re-elect Jay Inslee Governor as it is to elect a Democrat for President. The last thing leaders of the Democratic Party should be doing at this point is making 110,000 Independent Voters here in Washington State very, very angry. For example, here is just one of hundreds of emails I have received from Bernie supporters about the super delegate scam:

To Whom It May Concern,

The Democratic Party is playing with fire…”Super-Delegates” are an elitist and anti-democratic invention that dis-enfranchises the actual Delegates lawfully elected by their neighbors.National Democratic Party hacks are screwing with the wrong people!

That email came from a Bernie delegate elected in the 36th Legislative District. But it mirrors emails I have been getting from all across Washington state. I am getting exhausted just trying to respond to all of these emails. If you think that these 110,000 Independent Bernie supporters who took the time to show up at their precinct caucuses do not matter, then think again. Here is how the 2012 race for Governor in Washington State turned out:

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Note that Jay Inslee won by only 100,000 votes in 2012. Make 110,000 Independent Swing voters mad and suddenly the Republican candidate for Governor wins by 100,000 votes and we get an anti-union Republican running our state into the ground. In fact, even if only 50,000 of these Independent Bernie votes vote for the Republican candidate for Governor, we wind up with a Republican Governor.

The real question here is why Jay Inslee and the other leaders of the Washington State Democratic Party have not figured this out. Are they nuts? Do they want to commit political suicide by making so many Independent Washington voters this angry during an election year?

Sadly, Jay Inslee and the other leaders of the Washington State Democratic Party have not figured this out. For Jay and the rest of the leaders of the Washington State Democratic Party to endorse Clinton in the first place shows that they are completely out of touch with the voters. It was only a few years ago that the Washington State Democratic Party had commanding majorities in the Washington State Senate and House. Then leaders of the Democratic Party decided to gut billions of dollars in funding for public schools and colleges in order to pay for billions of dollars in tax breaks for wealthy multinational corporations like Microsoft and Boeing. As a result, the Republican Party has already taken over the Washington State Senate and they are likely to take over the Washington State House. If leaders of the Democratic Party do not wake up, Republicans will also take over the Governor’s office in the 2016 election.

The only thing that might save the Washington State Democratic Party at this point is for Jay Inslee and every other Washington State Super Delegate to publicly and immediately switch their endorsement from Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders. There is a precedent for doing this. In 2008, nearly all Washington State Democratic Party leaders initially supported Hillary. But after Obama won the 2008 Washington Caucuses, nearly all of these leaders wisely switched their support to Obama. While Clinton initially had a big lead in Super Delegates in 2008, by May 2008, most of these Super Delegates switched to Obama.

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Leaders of the Washington State Democratic Party should not wait until May. The voters of Washington state have already spoken. By a 3 to 1 margin, they favor Bernie Sanders. But the all important Independent Voters favor Bernie by a 5 to 1 margin. We will need these Independent voters if we are to re-elect Jay Inslee this fall.

What about the Presidential Race?
Despite the Democratic National Committee rigging the Democratic Nomination process by having all of the Southern Conservative Democratic states voting first, Clinton only has a 55% to 45% advantage over Bernie in elected delegates. Bernie is likely to win nearly all of the remaining states. Put another way, Hillary is only ahead by about 230 delegates with about 1750 delegates left to choose. We are barely half way through with the Democratic nomination process. And among the 22 Northern and Western States, we are just beginning. There are still 18 states left to vote. If Bernie wins in Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania and California, he will almost certainly have more elected delegates than Hillary. California alone, which will vote on June 7th, has 475 elected delegates. So Bernie could actually close the entire gap in just this single state. New York has 247 delegates and will vote on April 19th. Pennsylvania has 189 delegates and will vote on April 26th. If Bernie gets even 55% of the vote in these states, he wins the popular vote.

Even the latest national polls now show Sanders ahead of Clinton. For example, the latest Bloomberg poll taken before the landslide wins in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii, showed Sanders ahead of Clinton. Just a few months earlier, this same poll had Clinton ahead by more than 60%. So the trend is rapidly turning to Bernie.

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If this trend continues, by the time the California primary gets here on June 7th, Bernie will have over 60% of the voters and will secure the votes needed for the Democratic Nomination – assuming the Super Delegates do the right thing and support the candidate who is supported by the majority of the voters.

Finally, the latest poll out of Wisconsin has Bernie Sanders ahead of Clinton 49% to 44%.
https://law.marquette.edu/poll/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/MLSP34Toplines.pdf

But what is even more revealing is that Bernie has a net favorability rating of Plus 6 while Hillary has a rating of minus 24 to the following question: Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Hillary Clinton or haven’t you heard enough about her yet?

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Here is how the same group in Wisconsin thought of Bernie:

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As the following question confirms, Bernie would defeat Trump in a landslide:

If the election for president were being held today and the candidates were Bernie Sanders the Democrat, and Donald Trump the Republican, for whom would you vote?

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The voters also overwhelmingly favor Bernie’s call to have the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes:

In general, would you favor or oppose increasing taxes on wealthy Americans and large corporations in order to help reduce income inequality in the U.S.?

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This final question confirms the huge influence of Independent Voters in the 2016 election:

Generally speaking, do you usually think of yourself as a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent?

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In the meantime, Jay Inslee is shooting himself in the foot by continuing to support Hillary Clinton even after 73% of the voters said they favor Bernie Sanders. If you read this article and you know Jay, please share it with him. The sooner Jay wakes up and supports Bernie, the more likely he is to be re-elected.

We hope you will also contact all 17 Washington State Super Delegates and ask them this important question: Are you willing to risk losing the Washington State Governors Race by offending hundreds of thousands of Independent Voters in this election year just to support Hillary Clinton? Let them know that it will be their fault if a Republican Governor is elected in Washington state this year. Here is a link to the contact information for all 17 Washington State Super Delegates.

http://washingtonforberniesanders.com/petition-to-washington-state-super-delegates

Originally published at http://washingtonforberniesanders.com/why-the-super-delegate-scam-is-political-suicide-for-the-democratic-party

Washington State Legislature Adds Insult to Injury for Struggling GED Students

On February 10, 2016, the Washington State House passed House Bill 2743 – a bill that its prime sponsor, Chris Reykdal, claimed would “help GED students.” We normally do not single out a single legislator for criticism. But this case, the bill is so offensive and the harm to GED students is so great that we are going to make an exception.

Chris Reykdal works for the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (hereafter SBCTC). The SBCTC is supposed to help students who attend these local colleges. Instead, the SBCTC is a reckless, out of control agency that has been responsible for enacting a series of extremely harmful changes that have destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of students. The most harmful of these changes has been granting a monopoly on the Washington State High School Equivalency Certificate to an international for profit mega-corporation called Pearson. In January 2014, Pearson replaced the traditional GED test with a test that is so difficult that not only is it impossible to most GED students to pass the Pearson GED test – it is impossible for most of the members of our state legislature to pass the Pearson GED test.

In March 2014, we became aware of this disaster and started Restore GED Fairness dot org to try to restore a fair GED test in Washington State and around the nation. Because of the unfair Pearson GED test, in 2014, the number of students passing the GED test in Washington state fell from over 13,000 students per year to less than 3,000 students per year.

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In January 2015, we worked to introduce a bill for a Fair GED test in the Washington state legislature. Our bill passed the Washington State Senate Higher Education by a unanimous vote. But our GED Fairness bill was blocked in the House Higher Education Committee by none other than Chris Reykdal and the SBCTC!

As a consequence of this despicable disregard for the well being of stuggling low income students, another 10,000 Washington state students were denied a GED certificate in 2015. Reykdal and the SBCTC claimed that the number of students passing the GED would rise over time as more students got used to the new test. But instead of publishing the number of students passing the test every month, the SBCTC and Pearson have stonewalled all efforts to determine the number of students passing the GED test in Washington state. We have therefore been forced to use the pass rate from neighboring states, such as Oregon, who also have granted Pearson a monopoly over their high school equivalency test program.

In January, Pearson reacted to the news that 23 states have now moved away from the Pearson GED test monopoly by lowering the cut score from 150 to 145. Most of these states have allowed students to use a fairer fairer high school equivalency test called the Iowa HiSET test.

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Pearson claimed that lowering the cut score would increase the number of students who passed the test by 50 percent. What they failed to say is that a 50% increase of an unacceptably low number is still an unacceptably low number. New information from Oregon indicates that Pearson’s recent lowering of the cut score to pass the GED test from 150 to 145 did not lead to a substantial increase in the number of students receiving a GED certificate. Had Oregon state continued to use a fairly normed GED test, about 9,500 students would have received a GED certificate in 2014 and 2015. Lowering the cut score from 150 to 145 only resulted in 260 more students per year retroactively receiving a GED certificate in 2014 and 2015 in Oregon. The total number of students who received a GED certificate in 2015, even with the lower cut score was only 3,000 students – 6,500 less than would have received a GED if Oregon had a fair GED test.

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In Washington state, about 10,000 low income students per year are prevented from getting a high school equivalency certificate by the unfair Pearson GED test. Nationally, about 500,000 low income students per year have their lives destroyed by the Pearson GED test. About 10% of these students, lacking the ability to get a job, commit major crimes and wind up in prison – at a cost to taxpayers nationally of over one hundred million dollars per year.

The reason for making the GED test so hard that very few people can pass it is an unfair set of learning standards called Common Core and the associated Common Core test called the SBAC test – another test that very few kids or state legislators could pass. Not surprisingly., Chris Reykdal is also the prime sponsor of House Bill 2214, a bill that would require the impossible to pass SBAC Common Core test in order to graduate from high school.

The marketing slogan for Common Core and the SBAC test is that they will get kids career and college ready. But it is a fact that no bubble test has ever gotten a single student career and college ready. If Reykdal really wanted to get our kids career and college ready, he would propose a bill to raise $4 to $6 billion per year in new revenue so we could lower class sizes so that stuggling students could get the help they need to succeed in school and succeed in life.

Here are the results after 3 to 5 years of Common Core in New York, Kentucky and Washington state using the National Assessment of Educational Progress 8th Grade Math test:

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Note that the scores of students on the 8th grade math test went down in all three states. This is because Chris Reykdal’s Common Core and SBAC Plan is an utter disaster. It is time to end the disastrous experiment with Common Core in our schools and with the common aligned Pearson GED test!

Which brings us back to Chris Reykdal and his shameful 2016 House Bill 2743. Instead of providing struggling low income students with what they really need – which is a fair GED test so that they could get a job or go to college, Reykdal’s bill would bill would eliminate the stigma of having a GED certificate by turning it into a normal high school diploma.

Let’s be clear about this. There is no stigma from having a GED certificate! Nearly all employees and colleges accept a GED certificate as being the same as a high school diploma. The real stigma is inflicted on those who don’t have a GED certificate and cannot get a GED certificate because they cannot pass the unfair Pearson Common Core GED test and because Chris Reykdal refused to let these tens of thousands of Washington state students take a fair GED test. Shame on Chris Reykdal and shame on the Washington state legislature for going along with his Pearson GED Monopoly scam.

Reykdal had the audacity to claim that his bill would help increase the wages of those who have a GED certificate. But what would really increase the wages of struggling low income students is getting a GED certificate in the first place! Here are quotes from a GED instructor and a GED student to help bring a dose of reality to Reykdal and his insane bill:

“The students I work with, for the most part, want to get a job at Home Depot and Walmart. Hopefully they will (achieve higher aspirations) when they get their lives back on track. But right now, most of them just want a job.There needs to be a fairness where we don’t expect so much more of a GED student. The vast majority of high school graduates would never, ever come close to passing the (unfair Pearson) GED test.” John Grosvenor Portland Community College GED Instructor

“The math is ridiculous. There is no way that that test is normed to high school. It’s worded in such a complicated high-level thinking that you spend a huge chunk of time reading and rereading the question just to figure out what the equation should be.” Oregon GED Student
Source: http://portlandtribune.com/wlt/95-news/292859-169366-oregon-ged-students-still-struggling

Nor should we be imposing rigid and unrealistic college standards on struggling low income students who are just to get a job at Walmart. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupation Outlook Handbook, very few new jobs in the next 10 years will even require a college degree.

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Source: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/most-new-jobs.htm

An unfair GED test keeps low income students out of even these basic jobs because they cannot get these entry level jobs because they cannot pass the unfair Pearson GED test. By the end of 2016, more than 30,000 low income students in Washington state will have been denied access to a fair GED test by Reykdal and his cronies in Olympia. About 3,000 of these struggling low income students will wind up committing major crimes and being sent to prison. But the real crime will have been committed by Reykdal, the State legislature and the SBCTC.

The only good news here is that 2016 is an election year. It is time to boot Reykdal and all of his ruthless cronies out of Olympia and replace them with people who will allow struggling low income students to have a fair chance to pass a fair high school equivalency test so they can get the jobs they need to stay out of prison and pay for their rent. As always, we look forward to your questions and comments.

Originally published at RestoreGEDFairness.org

Is the 2016 Washington State Legislature the Most Corrupt Legislature in History?

When one uses the term “corruption” one is likely to think of big states like Texas or Florida or Illinois with all of their bribery and kickback schemes. In this article, we will provide a few examples of why the Washington state legislature may be not only one of the most corrupt legislatures in the nation – but one of the most corrupt legislatures in the history of our nation.

Exhibit #1: The only state legislature in history to repeatedly ignore a Contempt Citation from their State Supreme Court
Both New Jersey and Arizona Supreme Courts found their legislatures had failed to comply with their state constitutions to fund public schools. In both cases, the legislatures acted by actually increasing funding for schools. However, the Washington state legislature has basically told our Washington Supreme Court to “shove it.”

Here are the facts. In September, 2014, for the first time in the history of Washington state, the Washington State Supreme Court held the Washington State legislature in “contempt of court” for failing to comply with our State Constitutional Paramount Duty” to fully fund our public schools. The 2015 legislature responded by adding back nearly one billion dollars in funding they had cut a couple of years earlier. The legislature had the audacity to call restoring these funds an “increase” in school funding. In August, 2015, our Supreme Court was not amused by this false claim and began “fining” the State legislature for failing to fund our public schools. However, the 2016 Washington State legislature has not even been willing to discuss funding public schools. Instead, they have once again decided to kick the can down the road by forming a committee to study the issue – making this the seventh Education Funding committee in the past 20 years! This alone ought to be enough to call the Washington State legislature the most corrupt legislature in history. But there is more. Sadly, there is much more.

Exhibit #2: Despite having one of the strongest economies in the nation, Washington State has among the lowest school funding and highest class sizes in the nation.
In January 2016, Business Insider rated Washington state as having the strongest economy in the nation.
http://www.businessinsider.com/state-economy-ranking-q4-2015-2016-1

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This was mainly because Washington state has a very high per capita income. What the article failed to mention is that most of the income in Washington state goes to a few billionaires. The article also failed to mention that Washington state has among the lowest school funding and highest class sizes in the nation. We will get to the reasons behind this lack of school funding in the next three Exhibits confirming the corruption in Olympia.

Exhibit #3: Washington state has the most unfair state tax system in the nation
A 2015 national study found that while the poor and middle class in Washington state pay on average 12% of more in state taxes, billionaires in Washington state pay only 2% in state taxes. The richer you are in Washington State, the less you pay in taxes:

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http://www.itep.org/whopays/states/washington.php

Exhibit #4: Some claim that the Boeing $9 billion tax break is the largest tax give away in the history of the planet.

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Ironically, despite being given $9 billion in no strings attached payoffs, Boeing has continued to ship thousands of jobs out of Washington state.

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Exhibit #5: The hidden Microsoft Tax Break is actually bigger than the Boeing Tax break
Time for a quiz question: Where is Microsoft located? Raise your hand if you think they are located in Redmond Washington. Despite making more than $20 billion per year in profits, Microsoft has avoided paying Washington state taxes by claiming that they are located in Reno Nevada.

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Washington state has a one percent Business and Occupation tax on gross receipts that Microsoft is dodging. One percent of $100 billion in gross sales is $1 billion per year. Multiple this times the past 10 years and Microsoft owes the children of Washington state at least $10 billion in back taxes. Like Boeing, Microsoft has been laying off people instead of hiring them. So this is a one two punch against both our schools and our economy.

Exhibit #6: Despite giving away billions of dollars every year to billionaires and wealthy multinational corporations, the Washington State legislature cannot seem to find any money to fund our public schools.
It would take more than $3 billion per year in additional funding just to restore school funding and class sizes in Washington state to the national average. This is why the Supreme Court is fining the state legislature. But despite this huge shortfall, and the court order, the 2016 Washington state legislature is not even holding hearings on funding our public schools. Instead, only one bill has been submitted in the Washington state legislature in the past two years that would actually provide the billions of dollars needed to fully fund our public schools. That bill was Senate Bill 6093 by Senators Chase and McAuliffe which would raise about $4 billion per year by repealing a tax break for billionaires. Olympia is so corrupt that this bill has not even gotten a hearing.

Exhibit #7: Washington State legislature ignores a $22 billion school construction backlog
Washington state has one of the highest percentages of “unhoused students” in the nation with more than 10% of all Washington students (more than 100,000 students) forced to spend their school days in unhealthy particle board boxes. Also, over half of all schools in Washington state are more than 50 years old and do not meet health standards or earthquake standards. In the event of a major earthquake, as many as 500,000 students could be killed or injured. Yet, unlike Oregon and British Columbia – which have started to address this problem, the Washington state legislature has refused to do anything to address the school construction backlog. Instead, the legislature has shifted nearly the entire burden for building schools onto the backs of local homeowners through sky high local property taxes.

Exhibit #8: The Washington State legislature has actually passed bills to increase child homelessness and child poverty.
On February 2 2016, Washington State OSPI announced that the number of homeless students in Washington state continues to rise at a rate of 20% per year. For the 2014-2015 school year, more than 35,000 Washington state students did not have a permanent place to sleep at night.

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Continuing this 20% rise for the current school year means that the number of homeless students has doubled from about 20,000 to about 40,000 in just 8 short years. Only half of these homeless students manage to graduate from high school. Equally appalling is the dramatic rise in the percentage of students living at or near the poverty level in Washington State. Just 16 years ago, only 30% of Washington students lived near poverty. Today, nearly half of all Washington students live near poverty. This is an increase of 200,000 students living near poverty in our state in just the past 16 years.

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Part of the problem of child poverty and homelessness is that their parents do not have jobs (and the legislature has done nothing to create jobs). But the other part of the problem is that the Washington legislature has actually gutted programs designed to train parents so that they can go out and get a good paying job.

Exhibit #9 Washington state legislature guts Working Connections Program
In 2011, while the Washington legislature was approving massive tax breaks for billionaires, Microsoft and Boeing, they were also gutting the Working Connections program. This program provided low income children with child care and a place to live while their parents learned job training skills. The legislature gutted $100 million from this program resulting in about 30,000 families being tossed out onto the streets. Tens of thousands of children lost their only source of income – all so that billionaires could buy bigger boats.

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Exhibit #10: Washington State Legislature Refuses to Allow Struggling Low Income Students to have access to a Fair High School Equivalency Test
In January 2014, a for profit corporation called Pearson took over the GED High School Equivalency test and made it so hard that not even college professors or members of our state legislature could pass it. This resulted in the number of students receiving a GED in Washington state falling from a previous average of more than 13,000 graduates per year to less than 3,000 graduates per year.

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Because a High School Equivalency Certificate is needed to get a good paying job or go to college, the lack of a fair GED test has destroyed the lives of more than 10,000 students per year or about 200 students per week ever since January 2014. But despite this devastating harm to low income young adults, our State legislature has refused to allow students in our state to have access to either of two fairer options – the HiSET and TASC. Meanwhile 27 other less corrupt states have acted or are in the process of acting to allow their struggling low income students access to a fairer test (see map).

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Ironically, failing to offer struggling low income students a fair high school equivalency test will ultimately cost our state hundreds of millions of additional dollars in prison costs and the lack of a high school equivalency certificate increases the chances of a person committing a major crime by about 10 percent. So depriving 10,000 students per year of a High School Equivalency certificate will eventually increase our prison population by about 1,000 inmates per year.

Conclusion… Is the 2016 Washington State Legislature the most corrupt legislature ever?
If forcing one million students to attend over-crowded, unsafe and unhealthy classrooms just so a few billionaires can get bigger tax breaks is not a sign of extreme corruption, then I do not know what is.

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The only good news in this report is that 2016 is an election year. I am hoping some parents and teachers will finally say “enough is enough” to the corrupt clowns in Olympia and run for office to replace all of them. As always, I look forward to your questions and comments.

Second Charter School Fix is also a Framework for Fraud

Even though the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that charter schools are unconstitutional and ordered the State legislature to fully fund our real public schools, some of the leaders of the State legislature, in a blatant act of defiance, have decided to hold hearings on two “charter school fix” bills both of which would rob even more millions of dollars from our public schools. The hearing on the two charter school fix bills will be in Olympia on Tuesday January 12 2016 at 1:30 pm in the Senate Cherberg Building. Parents and teachers who want the legislature to focus on funding our real public schools instead of funding charter schools should attend this hearing and let the Senators know that you oppose diverting any more money away from real public schools.

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This is the second of two reports I have written about the Charter School Fix bills to help parents and teachers better understand how the charter school fix bills would rob millions of dollars away from our real public schools. First, a quick review of how we got to this crazy place. In 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court found that the State legislature had failed to comply with their Constitutional Paramount Duty to fully fund our public schools and ordered the legislature to come up with a plan to fully fund our public schools. When the legislature failed to come up with a plan, in September 2014, our Supreme Court held the legislature in “Contempt of Court” for dragging their feet. In 2015, the legislature claimed that they added a billion dollars in school funding. But in fact, they merely restored funds that they had cut in previous legislative sessions. Therefore, in August 2015, the Supreme Court began fining the state legislature. Thus far, the legislature has simply ignored these fines.

Then on September 4, 2015, our Supreme Court ruled that the Charter School Initiative 1240, funded with millions of dollars by Bill Gates, was unconstitutional in part because charter schools would divert billions of dollars away from public schools and in part because public school funds would be handed over to private corporations rather than being controlled by publicly elected school boards.

In response to this Supreme Court ruling, in December 2015, a couple of fake groups, SFC and LEV, announced that they had formed a new PAC to provide a half million dollars in campaign contributions to legislators willing to “fix” the problem created when the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the Charter School Initiative 1240 was unconstitutional. On January 4, 2016, Senate Bill 6163 was submitted to the Washington State legislature which would “fix the charter school problem by putting charter schools under the control of local school boards. After researching this 37 page bill, on January 7, 2016, I published a report calling Senate Bill 6163 a “framework for fraud” and summarizing 12 specific problems with Senate Bill 6163. Here is a link to my first report: http://coalitiontoprotectourpublicschools.org/charter-school-fix-is-a-framework-for-fraud

Later on January 7 2016, a second 44 page Charter School Fix bill was submitted in the Washington State legislature. This bill would fix the charter school problem by diverting millions of dollars in Washington State lottery funds in order to pay for charter schools. This bill claims that these funds are not restricted for use by public schools and can therefore be used to fund charter schools. This bill does not yet have a number but is available at the following link: http://leg.wa.gov/Senate/Committees/EDU/Documents/2016 Draft bills-PSSBs-Amds/ELKE 1.12.16 S-3706 1.pdf

In this second report, we will review the problems of this second Charter School Fix bill. We will begin by addressing some of the questions raised by my first report because these same concerns also apply to the second charter school fix.

Who paid for the Charter School Initiate 1240?
In my prior report, I pointed out that Bill Gates spent millions of dollars promoting the Charter School Initiative 1240. One person, our of of the thousands who read my first report, felt that this was an unfair attack on Bill Gates, who is the richest man in the world with a total wealth in excess of one hundred billion dollars. In fact, according to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, Bill Gates contributed $3.6 million in direct funding to the “Yes on 1240” campaign. As I explain in the following article, the actual amount Bill Gates spent promoting the Charter School Initiative was more than $35 million. It is therefore accurate to claim that Bill Gates paid for the Charter School Initiative. http://weaponsofmassdeception.org/7-billionaire-controlled-corrupt-government/7-1-how-billionaires-buy-elections

Are SFC and LEV real groups or fake groups?
In my prior report, I pointed out that the groups who who formed the half million dollar PAC to pay legislators for promoting a charter school fix were fake groups funded with millions of dollars from Bill Gates. By fake groups, I mean that these groups are funded predominately by Bill Gates and other billionaires and not by contributions from stakeholders such as parents and teachers and/or the general public.

Specifically, SFC (aka Stand For Children) has received about $16 million from the Gates Foundation and LEV (aka the League of Education Voters) has received about $14 million from the Gates Foundation. Therefore the half million dollar PAC they created is in reality a Bill Gates funded PAC. These two fake groups are only two of more than 100 fake groups funded by Bill Gates to promote his takeover of our public schools.

Are the the Half Million Dollars that the WA Charter Schools PAC is giving to Legislators Bribes or Just Campaign Contributions?
In my previous report, I described the half million dollars being given to Washington state legislators as “bribes.” One person objected to my calling these campaign contributions “bribes.”

The WA Charter School PAC website described their new program this way: “The WA Charters PAC delivered checks of $1,000 dollars to 13 members of the house and 11 Senators, on both sides of the aisle last week, including Representatives Pettigrew (D-37), Sawyer (D-29), Senn (D-41), Magendanz (R-5) and Senators Mullet (D-5), Fain (R-47), Litzow (R-41), and Rolfes (D-23). The PAC is continuing to raise funds despite the December 10th cut-off date… WA Charters expects to raise more than $500,000 by the end of session… We know we will have more champions to thank after the session” added Thomas Franta, CEO of WA Charters.”

So the money is simply WA Charters way of saying thank you to legislators for passing a charter school fix bill. But is offering both current money now and the promise of a lot more money later in trade for passing a charter school fix bill a bribe? Here is the Webster’s Dictionary definition of a bribe:

Bribe: Something given or promised to a person in order to influence dishonestly a decision or action; something valuable (such as money) that is given in order to get someone to do something; money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust; to try to get someone to do something by giving or promising something valuable (such as money).

Here is what the Washington State Constitution says about the legality of paying off legislators to get them to pass a bill:
Article II, Section 30 BRIBERY OR CORRUPT SOLICITATION. The offense of corrupt solicitation of members of the legislature, or of public officers of the state… to influence their official action, shall be defined by law, and shall be punished by fine and imprisonment… A member who has a private interest in any bill or measure proposed or pending before the legislature, shall disclose the fact to the house of which he is a member, and shall not vote thereon.

It is a fact that the prime sponsors of both charter school fix bills have been given campaign contributions from WA Charters PAC. Numerous legislators have also received direct campaign contributions from SFC, LEV and various members of the Washington Roundtable. This sort of influence peddling is one of the worst forms of corruptions. Bills should be passed solely on the merits of whether they benefit the people and children of the state of Washington – not based upon who is offering the most money to legislators and their re-election campaigns.

Are the Charter School Fix Bills Really a Framework for Fraud?
One person, out of the hundreds who read my last report, objected to my use of the word “fraud” in the title of my last report despite the fact that I provided links to numerous reports of charter school fraud in other states and provided specific quotes from Senate Bill 6163 of “loopholes” that would allow the exact same sort of fraud in Washington state as has already occurred in several other states.

I declined her request to change the title of the report because Fraud is one of the major problems of charter schools in every state that has allowed charter schools. In fact, fraud in the form of robbing from the tax payers is one of the major purposes of charter schools. Without fraud, there would be no financial incentive to push for charter schools or money to bribe legislators into creating charter schools or money to create fake groups to promote charter schools. To be more clear, here is the Webster’s Dictionary for the word Fraud:

Fraud: The crime of using dishonest methods to take something valuable from another person, intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right; a copy of something that is meant to look like the real thing in order to trick people.

This is exactly what charter schools are. They are a copy of our public schools in order to trick people into giving private for profit corporations money that should have gone to real public schools. The dishonest methods used include marketing campaigns that falsely claim that charter schools are better than public schools (the perversion of truth) as well as bribing legislators into allowing charter schools. The legal right that is given up is the right of our children to receive a real education from a real, experienced and highly qualified teacher. As we noted in our previous article and will show again in this article, the primary method charter schools use to increase corporate profits is to use inexperienced, untrained teachers who are paid substantially less than real teachers.

The reason each of the charter school fix bills are a framework for fraud is that both bills contain numerous loopholes that are specifically intended to allow charter schools to hire unqualified teachers and then pay them much less than real public school teachers. There is no benefit to children in gutting the pay of teachers. There is only a benefit to for profit corporations in that the less they pay teachers, the more they can make in corporate profits. But before we review the loopholes in the second charter school fix bill, let’s quickly review the fraud studies from other states:

Three 2015 Studies of Charter School Fraud in other States
A March 2015national report documented charter school fraud and waste totaling more than $200 million – but says the total is  impossible to know because there is not sufficient oversight over charter schools.The report, titled “The Tip of the Iceberg: Charter School Vulnerabilities To Waste, Fraud, And Abuse,” was released by the Center for Popular Democracy. http://populardemocracy.org/sites/default/files/Charter-Schools-National-Report_rev2.pdf

The report notes that these figures only represent fraud and waste in the charter sector uncovered so far, and that the total that federal, state and local governments “stand to lose” in 2015 is probably more than $1.4 billion.

The report states: “Charter operators have used school funds illegally to buy personal luxuries for themselves, support their other businesses, and more…The vast majority of the fraud perpetrated by charter officials will go undetected because the federal government, the states, and local charter authorizers lack the oversight necessary to detect the fraud.”

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The fraud included corruption, asset misappropriation, financial statement fraud, conflicts of interest such as purchasing schemes, bribery, bid rigging, kickbacks and extortion, theft, skimming, billing schemes, payroll schemes, expense reimbursement schemes, shell companies, ghost employees, ghost students, ghost buildings, accomplice vendors, overstated expenses, fake expenses, forged checks, fake refunds, and manipulations of assets and inventories. California alone stands to lose more than $100 million to charter school fraud in 2015. The vast majority of this fraud perpetrated by charter officials will go undetected because California lacks the oversight necessary to identify the fraud.

Ghost Students in Half of Ohio Charter Schools
In January 2015, the Ohio state auditor released a report of the results of unannounced visits by inspectors to 30 charter schools. In nearly half of the schools, the school-provided headcount was significantly higher than the auditors’ headcount. Schools are funded based on headcount, so these inflated figures amount to millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars siphoned away from students.
http://populardemocracy.org/sites/default/files/Charter-Schools-National-Report_rev2.pdf

Epidemic of Charter School Waste, Fraud and Abuse
The second national report called Charter School Black Hole by the Center for Media and Democracy published in October 2015 found what it called an “Epidemic of charter school waste fraud and abuse.” Specifically, the report found that more than $3.7 billion dollars just in federal funds has been diverted away from public schools to charter schools. Since federal funds are about 10% of total school funding, the total diverted away from public schools to charter schools may be as high as $37 billion and counting – with little to no accountability as to how those funds are spent because charter school spending is a “black hole.”

“This is due in part to the way laws governing charters have been built by proponents, favoring “flexibility” over rules. That flexibility has allowed an epidemic of fraud, waste, and mismanagement that would not be tolerated in public schools.”
http://www.prwatch.org/files/new_charter_school_black_hole_report_oct_21_2015.pdf

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Charter School Closure Chaos
The report found that millions of tax payer dollars going to “dozens of ghost schools where funds were given to charter schools that never even opened.” The report also found that charter schools have a much higher failure rate than public schools. For example, Michigan has 300 charter schools and 108 have failed for a failure rate of 25%.Arizona has 600 charter schools and more than 100 closed charter schools for a failure rate of 14%. Florida has 650 charters and more than 120 closed charter schools for a failure rate of 16%. Wisconsin has 240 charter schools and 90 failed and closed charter schools for a failure rate of 27%. California has more than 1000 charter schools and nearly 200 have closed for a failure rate of 20%. According to a 2015 national study, 2,210 out of about 10,000 charters had closed for a national charter school failure rate of 22%.
http://www.prwatch.org/news/2015/09/12936/cmd-publishes-full-list-2500-closed-charter-schools

By comparison, the US has about 100,000 public schools of which only about 1,000 have closed for reasons other than charter conversion during the past 10 years for a closure rate of about 1 percent. https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=619

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2,210 Charter School Closures in the US from 2001 to 2013 has disrupted and harmed the education of nearly one million students

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Charter school failures have included stunning tales of financial fraud, skimming of retirement funds, financial mismanagement, material violations of the law, massive debt, unsafe school conditions, lack of teacher credentials, failure to conduct background checks, terrible academic performance and test results, insufficient enrollment, inflated enrollment and numerous fraud indictments of charter school operators. There were also several cases of squandering of taxpayer moneyfunding going to religious schools even though state law prohibits funding going to religious schools.

Charter school closures not only cost tax payers millions of dollars but disrupt the education, academic social and emotional development of hundreds of thousands of students. Closing schools is almost as traumatic and harmful an experience for children as losing their homes. Pauline Lipman, a professor of at the University of Illinois at Chicago who has been studying school closures since 2004, said “We know every time you move a child from one school to another it has a destabilizing effect on their education.”

The decision to close schools is often based on the belief that displaced students will be moved to higher performing schools. But research in Chicago has shown that has not often happened.  An Oct. 2009 study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago examined the closure of 44 public schools in Chicago between 2001 to 2006 (schools closed by Arne Duncan) and compared these thousands of displaced students to a group of similar students whose schools were not closed or replaced by charter schools. The report found that only 6% of displaced students enrolled in high-performing schools, while 82% of displaced students continued to attend schools with very low levels of academic achievement.
http://www.edweek.org/media/ccsr_school_closings-final.pdf

Dislocated students are less likely to graduate
In 2014 study, Matthew F. Larsen at Tulane University looked at high school closures in Milwaukee, almost all of which were charter schools, and he concluded that closures decreased “high school graduation rates by nearly 10%.” He found that the effects persist “even if the students attends a better quality school after closure.” http://www.prwatch.org/news/2015/09/12936/cmd-publishes-full-list-2500-closed-charter-schools#sthash.ejeFJq9i.dpuf

Many schools in Chicago were closed twice… First by Arne Duncan and then after the private takeover did not succeed in improving test scores, the “charter” schools were closed again. This is clear evidence that the problem with schools in low income neighborhoods is not the school. The problem is poverty. All parents, all children and all teachers need to be treated with respect, dignity, fairness and opportunity. Closing public schools in poor neighborhoods over and over again is not the answer. It is simply another form of child abuse. Closing public schools and turning them all into private, for profit charter schools does not improve outcomes for poor inner city children because this “solution” does not address the real problem faced by poor inner city kids. That problem is poverty – their parents do not have a living wage job.

Nearly Half of All Charter Schools are Run by National Corporate Profit EMOs
The most recent study of charter school money laundering was published in December 2015 by the National Education Policy Center. This study found that there was virtually no difference between the operation and financial structure of For Profit Education Management Organizations and Non Profit Education Management Organizations. The report concluded that “Most nonprofit EMOs look, act, and have management agreements similar to for-profit EMOs.”For example, while the typical public school spends more than 60% of revenue on instruction (teachers), KIPP one of the nation’s largest non-profit corporations spends only 42% on instruction mainly by hiring TFA fake teachers. This allows KIPP to pay its administrators up to $400,000 per year. So much for being a non-profit organization!
http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/rb_baker-miron_charter_revenue_0.pdf

This chart indicates that about half of all charter school students are enrolled in these national chain charters.

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The report found four major problems with charter schools:

#1 A substantial share of public expenditure intended for the delivery of direct educational services to children is being extracted inadvertently or intentionally forpersonal or business financial gain;

#2 Public assets are being transferred to private hands, at public expense;

#3 Charter school operators are self-serving private entities built on funds derived from lucrative management fees and rent extraction; and

#4 Current weak disclosure requirements make it unlikely that any legal violations,ethical concerns, or bad practices are reported.

The report then explained with detailed charts and diagrams how EMO corporations extract profits out of charter schools.One of the concerns raised about adding a profit motive to educating kids is the potentialfor charters to manipulate enrollment and attendance data “to maximize tax-subsidizedper-pupil funding. The report concluded that “The multiple layers of private schooloperations and management, governing boards of private citizens, and in somecases, authorization by private entities,presents far greater opportunityto shield documents and avoidconstitutional and statutory protectionsin the charter sector.”

Does this track record of Systematic Charter School Fraud in other States justify calling the Washington State Charter School Fix Bills a “Framework for Fraud?
Some apparently believe that Washington State can magically avoid the charter school disasters that have occurred in other states. However, the same legal loopholes that allowed the charter school fraud in other states presents a framework for similar levels of fraud here in Washington state. In our prior report, we provided examples of legal loopholes in Senate Bill 6163. In this report, we will show that there is an equal potential for fraud in the second charter school fix bill submitted on January 7 2016. Here is a table comparing the loopholes in the two Charter School Fix Bills:

Charter School Fraud Loopholes Jan 4 Fix Bill Jan 7 Fix Bill
#1 Diverts Millions of Dollars Away from Public Schools YES YES
#2 Violates the “Uniformity” Clause of our State Constitution YES YES
#3 Provides no protection for teacher salaries YES YES
#4 Provides no protection for teacher training YES YES
#5 Transfers oversight of tax payer dollars from a publicly elected school board to a privately appointed group of corporate rubber stampers YES YES
#6 Non-profits used in the bill are actually money laundering operations for For Profit Corporations YES YES
#7 Reduces public meetings and public accountability for parents and tax payers. YES YES
#8 Increased Flexibility simply means increased Fraud for Charter School Contractors YES YES
#9 Increases Rate of School Closures Harms Students YES YES

See our first report for the exact “framework for fraud” loophole language in the Jan 4 charter school fix bill.
http://coalitiontoprotectourpublicschools.org/charter-school-fix-is-a-framework-for-fraud

Here we will review the loophole language in the Jan 7 charter school fix bill which is amazingly similar to the loophole language in the Jan 4 Fix bill. The similarity of loophole language between the two bills confirms that the purpose of both bills is not to improve the quality of education for children. Rather the point of these loopholes is to use the charter school fix bill to deliberately create avenues for funneling money away from public schools and into the pockets of private for profit corporations.

#1 Both Charter School Fix Bills Are Unconstitutional Because Both Divert Millions of Dollars Away from Public Schools
While the January 4th Charter School Fix bill allows for up to 10% of all school funds (up to one billion dollars) to be diverted away from public schools to charter schools, the January 7th bill only allows about $20 million to be diverted away from public schools to charter schools. Unfortunately, this second bill is even more dangerous than the first bill in that it makes the claim that one hundred million dollars per year in Lottery funds, currently used for Opportunity Pathway funding are not restricted for use as school funding because the Lottery funds are not part of the “three protected accounts” specified in the state constitution to fund our public schools.

This would set the precedent for diverting billions of dollars away from public schools in the future as all the legislature would have to do is create funding sources outside of the three protected accounts to absolve themselves of their paramount duty to fully fund schools. However, the claim that using millions of dollars in lottery funds to fund charter schools would not reduce state funding for public schools is factually false. Historically, Washington lottery funds have been used for both school construction and class size reduction.

Here is a brief history of State Lottery funds taken from a 2014 State School Funding Guide: “As a result of the passage of Initiative 728 in 2000, all lottery revenues were, in fact, dedicated for educational purposes (with the exception of about 10 percent, which was dedicated by previous legislation for debt service on the stadiums in Seattle). For fiscal years 2001-2004, a portion of lottery revenues were distributed to school districts to allow them to make improvements, such as reducing class sizes, extending learning opportunities, and expanding professional development and early childhood education programs. The remainder was deposited into the Education Construction Account, which is used to fund a portion of the state matching funds for K-12 public school and higher education construction. From fiscal year 2005 through 2009, all lottery revenues were deposited into the Education Construction Account. In 2009, the Legislature redirected lottery dollars to the state general fund to support a range of state programs, including education.”

The fact that lottery funds have been used for school funds in the past is important because our Supreme Court has ruled that once state funds are “co-mingled” then they become funds subject to the Paramount Duty of funding our public schools. For example, the court ruled that the state general funds were co-mingled with the constitutional protected funds making the general funds also protected:

“by diverting common school funds to charter schools, the (Charter School Initiative) Act contravenes article IX, section 2 of the Washington Constitution.”

On page 13 of the ruling the Washington Supreme Court explained that:
“The constitutional protection afforded to common school appropriations is not dependent on the source of the revenue (i.e., the type of tax or other funding source) or the account in which the funds are held (i.e., the general fund or other state fund). Rather, this court held that all money “allocated to the support of the common schools … constitute[ s] a ‘state tax for the common schools’ in contemplation of Art. IX,§ 2, of the constitution… Once appropriated to the support of the common schools,” funds cannot “subsequently be diverted to other purposes. This court cautioned that to hold otherwise “would be calamitous.”

The above ruling is similar to a 1983 Washington Supreme Court which held that once the legislature defines a program as an essential part of Basic Education it cannot later cut funding for the program in order to transfer funding to other programs that are not part of Basic Education. The bottom line is that taking one hundred million dollars out of the State budget for other purposes would in fact leave one hundred million fewer dollars for public schools. This makes using lottery funds for charter schools that were previously used to support public schools as unconstitutional as using general funds for charter schools.

#2 Both Charter School Fix Bills Violate the “Uniformity” Clause of our State Constitution
Article IX, Section 2 of the Washington State Constitution not only requires the state legislature to fully fund public schools, it also requires the legislature to provide a “general and uniform system of public schools.”

In ruling that charter schools were unconstitutional, the Washington Supreme Court specifically stated: “We hold that the provisions of I-1240 that designate and treat charter schools as common schools violate article IX, section 2 of our state constitution and are void. This includes the Act’s funding provisions, which attempt to tap into and shift a portion of moneys allocated for common schools to the new charter schools authorized by the Act.”

The court explained that one of the things that made charter schools “not uniform” was the loss of local control and local accountability because they were not directed by a locally elected school board. Our Supreme Court quoted a 1909 Supreme Court ruling called Byran which stated: “a common school, within the meaning of our constitution, is one that is common to all children of proper age and capacity, free, and subject to and under the control of the qualified voters of the school district… The system must be uniform in that every child shall have the same advantages and be subject to the same discipline as every other child.”

The September 2015 ruling then explained that
“Here, because charter schools under 1-1240 are run by an appointed board or nonprofit organization and thus are not subject to local voter control, they cannot qualify as “common schools” within the meaning of article IX.”

Therefore because both charter school bills place the actual control of charter schools with an appointed charter school board, charter schools are not public schools. But this is not the only reason charter schools were ruled unconstitutional.

The 1909 Bryan case dealt specifically with whether the legislature could allow some schools to use uncertified teachers. Bryan ruled that the use of uncertified teachers in some schools was unconstitutional because then the schools would not be uniform.

Thus, even in the unlikely case that the Supreme Court ruled that lottery funds were not protected, they would still rule charter schools unconstitutional because both charter school bills specifically allow charter schools to use uncertified teachers. (see footnote 10 on page 11 of the 2015 Supreme Court ruling).

In the 2012 McCleary decision, our State Supreme Court has also ruled that the legislature is in violation of the uniformity clause of the state constitution because current laws create a two tier system of rich school districts that can easily pass local school levies and school bonds thanks to high per pupil property valuations – and poor school districts that cannot pass local school levies and school bonds due to low per pupil property valuations (See OSPI Report 1061).

Both charter school fix bills would turn our current two tier system of rich schools and poor schools into a three tier system of rich schools, poor schools and charter schools that do not provide protection for teachers and students.

07 The way to improve our education system is not by exempting some schools from school regulations. Instead, it is by complying with our state constitution and restoring a uniform system of fully funded public schools so that every student has an opportunity to receive a quality education including a fully qualified teacher and low class sizes so that struggling students can get the help they need to succeed in school and succeed in life. Here is a link to the January 7 Charter School Fix bill in case you want to read it yourself. leg.wa.gov/Senate/Committees/EDU/Documents/2016 Draft bills-PSSBs-Amds/ELKE 1.12.16 S-3706 1.pdf

Here is the language in the second charter school fix bill saying charter schools will be separate from the public school system:

Page 3: “A charter school established under this chapter is… operated separately from the common school system.”

#3 Both Charter School Fix bills provide no protection for teacher salaries and therefore no protection for students to insure that they receive a quality education.
The primary way charter schools generate massive profits for their promoters is to hire fake teachers with no actual training or experience and then lower the salary of these fake teachers by paying them peanuts instead of a living wage so that the average charter school teacher quits after one year. A 2015 New Jersey study found that charter school teachers make about $20,000 per year less than public school teachers.
http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2015/05/teaching-at-charter-school-means-taking.html

In April 2014, the League of Women Voters of Florida issued a report on fraud of charter schools. The report was shocking. They found that while public schools spent more than 80% of their funds on classroom instruction, charter schools spent barely 40% on classroom instruction. Charter schools spent much less on teachers and much more on overhead costs, management and rental fees. Charter schools had a closure rate of 20% per year. Numerous members of the State legislature benefited directly or indirectly from charter school kickbacks.
http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1103316066537-1070/LWV+Final+Report+Statewide+Study+1-3.pdf

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Here is the language in the January 7 Charter School Fix bill that allows charter schools to have any teachers they want, any class sizes they want and distribute public tax payer dollars in any manner they want:

Page 6: Charter schools are not subject to, and are exempt from, all other state statutes and rules applicable to school districts and school district boards of directors…Except as provided otherwise by this chapter or a charter contract, charter schools are exempt from all school district policies.

Page 29: This section does not require a charter school to pay a particular salary to its staff while the staff is employed by the charter school.

Compare this to the language in the first charter school fix bill:
This section does not require a district charter school to pay a particular salary to its staff while the staff is employed by the district charter school. (SB 6163 Page 29)

Page 36: Any bargaining unit or units established at the charter school must be limited to employees working in the charter school and must be separate from other bargaining units in school districts, educational service districts, or institutions of higher education. Any charter school established under chapter 28A.710 RCW is a separate employer from any school district, including the school district in which it is located.

Compare this to the language in the first charter school fix bill:
“Any bargaining unit or units established at the district charter school must be limited to employees working in the district charter school and must be separate from other bargaining units in school districts, educational service districts, or institutions of higher education. Any district charter school established under chapter 28A.710 RCW is a separate employer from any school district, including the school district in which it is located…” (SB 6163 Page 30)

“The district charter school board may… Hire, manage, and discharge any district charter school employee in accordance with the terms of this chapter and that school’s district charter contract.” (SB 6163 Page 5)

The clear goal of such language is to eliminate the right of students to an experienced teacher and the right of teachers to a living wage.

#4 The Charter School Fix bills provide no protection for teacher training and thus would expose Washington State Students to Poorly Trained and Inexperienced TFA Teachers
In order to cut costs and increase profits, many charter schools use “TFA Fake Teachers.” TFA (Teach for America) recruits recent college graduates, gives them five weeks of “training” – which is really nothing more than a five week pep rally – and then ships them off to school districts nationwide to inflict their lack of training on innocent and often very young students. Just imagine being operated on by a doctor with only 5 weeks of training. Subjecting our kids to fake teachers with only 5 weeks of training is a crime. Here is the loophole language in the January 7 2016 Charter School Fix Bill:

Page 5: Charter schoolsmay hire noncertificated instructional staff

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How is this even possible?
In the past, both state and federal law regulated who could teach in our public schools. Teachers were required to have years of training in child development, learning theories, and classroom management. They were also required to complete a several month “practice” teaching experience under the guidance of an experienced teacher. After all of this, they were granted a “Provisional Teachers Certificate” which allowed them to teach. But in most states, additional training during several summers was required to get a permanent teachers certificate. The federal court also ruled that TFA recruits should not be concentrated in districts of high poverty and high disadvantage, where children actually need “highly qualified” teachers, not young college graduates with five weeks to training. For more on this subject, see Renee v. Duncan, decided on September 27, 2010, which struck down Arnie Duncan’s crazy regulation that TFA recruits were highly qualified.
http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2010/09/27/08-16661.pdf

All of this changed on December 21, 2010, when state and federal teaching standards laws were changed in order to allow TFA recruits to qualify as “highly qualified” teachers. It should be obvious that a recruit with only five weeks of training can not possibly be “highly qualified.” However, on December 21, 2010, Congress amended federal law to change the definition of “highly qualified to include TFA recruits. This was despite the fact that (or because of the fact that) the federal appeals court in California twice ruled that TFA teachers are not highly qualified.

TFA Cheap, Fake Teachers are a Key Part of the Charter School Scam
TFA’s growth depends on and supports the country’s corrupt charter school movement. TFA teachers are non-union and work for much less than real teachers. They are therefore a key tactic in reducing the cost of teachers if the goal is making money rather than helping kids learn. In 2013, in Connecticut, hundreds of teaching jobs were given to out of state TFA recruits while graduates of Connecticut’s 5-Year Teachers College program were not even allowed to apply for these jobs. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/08/29/how-teach-for-america-recruits-get-preference-for-teaching-jobs/

While a first year salary for a teacher at a traditional unionized school in Chicago is approximately $45,000, the starting salary at many of TFA’s partner charter schools is nearly 30 percent less at $32,000.

Teacher Turnover TFA Fake Teachers versus Real Teachers
A 2010 study found that “more than 50% of TFA teachers leave after two years and more than 80% leave after three years.” By comparison, over 60% of all real teachers – who typically have five years of training – leave after 5 years with most of the remainder staying for more than 10 years. The following chart shows how long TFA recruits remain in the teaching profession.
http://www.greatlakescenter.org/docs/Policy_Briefs/Heilig_TeachForAmerica.pdf

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As a result of the huge turnover of TFA teachers at charter schools, students at TFA fed charter schools are taught by an endless stream of first-year teachers. These students and their TFA fake teachers are doomed to failure. By contrast, this is the experience distribution of real public school teachers using the same scale:

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Teacher Salaries are Already Much Lower than Other Professions
Another reason teachers suffer from a much higher turnover than other professions, besides the fact that they are being attacked by billionaires is that are among the lowest paid of all professions.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupation Employment Statistics
http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/ocwage.pdf

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#5 Both Charter School Fix Bills Transfer oversight of tax payer dollars from a publicly elected school board to a privately appointed group of corporate rubber stampers
One of the most shocking sections in the second Charter School Fix bill is the following:

Page 3: A charter school established under this chapter is a public((, common)) school that is governed by a charter school board.

Page 4: A charter school may enter into contracts with any school district, educational service district, or other public or private entity for the provision of real property, equipment, goods, supplies, and services, including educational instructional services ((and including)), pupil transportation services, and for the management and operation of the charter school ((to the same extent as other non-charter public schools, as long as)), provided the charter school board maintains oversight authority over the charter school. Contracts for management operation of the charter school may only be with nonprofit organizations;

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Here is the structure proposed by the second Charter School Fix:
An unelected Charter School Commission sets up unelected charter school boards made up of rubber stampers selected by the very corporations the rubber stampers will oversee. Then the actual charter schools are allowed to set up contracts with any public or private entity while being exempted from all state laws.

We have seen earlier that the phrase “non-profit organization is simply a scam shell of a for profit corporation. This structure is truly a framework for fraud! This is like the fox guarding the hen house. Only in this case, it is Wall Street corporations put in charge of guarding one billion dollars in tax payer funds as well as the educational future of thousands of Washington state students!

#6 The “Non-profits” used in the Charter School Fix bill are actually money laundering operations for For Profit Corporations
The January 7th Fix tries to fool us into thinking that charter schools would be run by non-profits. Here is the language in the bill: Page 2: “(Charter School) “Applicant” means a nonprofit corporation that has submitted an application to the authorizer. The nonprofit corporation may not be a sectarian or religious organization and must meet all of the requirements for a public benefit nonprofit corporation before receiving any funding.

The January 4 Fix (Senate Bill 6163) also tries to fool legislators and the public into thinking that charter schools would only be run by “Non-profits.” Here is the language in the bill: “(Charter School) “Applicant” means a nonprofit corporation that has submitted an application to… the school district in which the district charter school is to be located. The nonprofit corporation may not be a sectarian or religious organization and must meet all of the requirements for a public benefit nonprofit corporation before receiving any funding.” (SB 6163 Page 2)

However, in December, 2014, areport was published called When Charter Schools are Nonprofit in Name Only which explains in detail many ways in which public tax payer dollars are funneled from fake non-profits to for profit corporations. This report described the common practice of charter schools pretending to be “non-profits” only to sweep all of the money out of the fake non-profit front group and into the pockets of private for profit “management” corporations. These “sweep” contracts divert nearly all of the charter school’s public dollars to for profit corporations – with very little left to actually run the charter schools. Once the public money goes into the black hole of a private corporation, there is no way to keep track of how it is actually spent.

Here is a quote from the report: “It can be hard for regulators and even schools themselves to follow the money when nearly all of it goes into the accounts of a private company… “We can’t audit the (private) management company,” said Brian Butry, a spokesman for New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.”
http://www.propublica.org/article/when-charter-schools-are-nonprofit-in-name-only

Here is a diagram of how this money laundering operation works:

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#7 The Charter School Fix bill would reduce public meetings and public accountability for parents and tax payers.
Elected school boards typically hold public meetings at least once a month during which time parents and other concerned citizens can let the school board know about problems in the schools that need to be addressed. If the elected school board does not listen to the parents and do something to fix the problems, there are elections every two years to vote in a new school board that will listen and take action. None of these protections exist with the appointed charter school board. In fact, the second charter school fix bill does not require any meetings and thus there is no opportunity for local impute on charter school board decisions.

#8 Increased Flexibility simply means increased Fraud for Charter School Contractors
How are charter schools working out in other states? The result of deregulation has been a tidal wave of fraud, abuse and corruption. Here is an estimate from the Pennsylvania State Auditor. Combined with $140 million sucked out of Pennsylvania by gold digger poorly performing charter schools and the total loss to Pennsylvania tax payers is more than $300 million per year. http://thenotebook.org/blog/125416/pa-auditor-general-blasts-cyber-charter-funding-again/

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A National Charter School Corporate Crime Wave
In May 2014, the Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education issued a report called Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud And Abuse. This report concluded that fraudulent charter operators in 15 states were responsible for losing, misusing or wasting over $100 million in taxpayer money per year. http://integrityineducation.org/charter-fraud/

Since there are actually charter schools in 45 States, it is likely that the total fraud and abuse of tax payers funds by charter schools exceeds $300 million per year. The report contains news stories, criminal records, and other documents to detail abuses such as charter school operators embezzling funds, using tax dollars to illegally support other, non-educational businesses, taking public dollars for services they didn’t provide, inflating their enrollment numbers to boost revenues, and putting children in potential danger by foregoing safety regulations or withholding services. These are only a few specific examples of the thousands of cases of fraud involving charter schools nationwide.

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Here is a quote from the report: “Our examination, which focused on 15 large charter markets, found fraud, waste, and abuse cases totaling over $100 million in losses to taxpayers. Despite rapid growth in the charter school industry, no agency, federal or state, has been given the resources to properly oversee it. Given this inadequate oversight, we worry that the fraud and mismanagement that has been uncovered thus far might be just the tip of the iceberg.

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Charter School Fraud in Ohio…
Ohio has about 400 charter schools affecting more than 120,000 children. Ohio seems to be the nation’s leader in charter school corruption which is why we have saved them for last. In 2013, an Ohio man and his brother plead guilty to an alleged $1.8 million charter school fraud in Cleveland. Both were sentenced to one year probation. Also in 2013, in a similar case, prosecutors charged a charter school operator of diverting at least $1.2 million dollars in public funds away from his charter school and into other businesses and multiple homes. In 2014, the judge gave the operator 5 years of probation. http://www.cleveland.com/court-justice/index.ssf/2014/02/lion_of_judah_charter_school_o.html

In another case, a charter school treasurer plead guilty to stealing $470,000 from 4 Ohio charter schools. The funds were supposed to be used for the education of students at four charter schools in Columbus, Youngstown and Dayton between 2005 and 2011, according to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.

In 2013, 19 charter schools closed in the State of Ohio, joining 150 other charter schools in Ohio that had already been shut down since 2005. With about 400 total charter schools in Ohio, that is a failure rate of over 40 percent!

“$1.4 billion has been spent since 2005 through school year 2012-2013 on charter schools that have never gotten any higher grade than an F or a D,”

As in Florida and many other “charter school” states, charter schools are closing at a record rate in Ohio and sticking tax payers with the bill
Charter schools are closing in Ohio at a record rate after a series of fraud cases were uncovered. The tax payers are left to pick up the pieces and the kids suffer the loss of their schools and their education.

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Charter schools are funded by the state on the backs of school districts and taxpayers. Because charter schools are exempt from most state laws and do not have a publicly elected school board, there is almost no oversight of spending at charter schools. Over $900 million dollars per year is diverted away from public schools to charter schools in Ohio every year. But the bill doesn’t stop there. When there is financial mismanagement, charter schools can be closed. But it is almost impossible to get the money invested in charter schools back. Nearly $187 million in tax money spent on failed charter schools is still uncollected.

The only solution to corruption and fraud is to not allow private corporations to make profits off of public schools. The only way this will happen is to ban charter schools.

#9 Increases Rate of School Closures Harms Students
As the recent Tulane University study confirmed, allowing charter schools not only creates a framework for fraud, but the chaos created by charter school closures harms students who see their both their public schools and charter schools closed. Specifically, students whose schools are closed have a 10% lower graduation rate than students whose schools are not closed.

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#10 The Charter School Fix bill diverts attention away from the Paramount Duty of the State legislature to provide full funding for our public schools.
This is the most disturbing part of the Charter School Fix bill. The State legislature has already been found in “Contempt of Court” for failing to comply with their Paramount Duty under the Washington state Constitution to fully fund our real public schools. As we noted earlier, it would take $3 billion in additional state revenue just to bring school funding in Washington state up to the national average and lower class sizes in Washington state down to the national average.

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The real problem faced by our schools is that our class sizes are way too large. Yet despite these massive and urgent problems affecting the lives of one million students, there has only been ONE BILL submitted in the Washington state legislature that would generate the billions of dollars needed to actually reduce class sizes down to the national average and provide our students with the safe schools they deserve. That bill was Senate Bill 6093 sponsored by Senators Chase and McAuliffe – which would provide more than $3 billion per year in annual revenue by repealing a 1997 tax break used by the very wealthy to avoid paying their fair share of state taxes.

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Are tax breaks for the wealthy really more important than the lives of half a million students? It is time to start requiring billionaires to pay their fair share of state taxes so we can finally address the school construction backlog here in Washington state. As always, we look forward to your questions and comments.

Regards,
David Spring M. Ed. Coalition to Protect Our Public Schools
Springforschools@aol.com

Originally published Coalition to Protect Our Public Schools.

Why Charter Schools are Fraud Factories

In The Crooks Behind the Charter School Scam, we looked at charter school corruption in Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia and New Orleans. In this section, we will look at fraud and corruption in seven States: California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. But what we may think of as corruption is really the intended payoff of charter schools… just a part of the plan to maximize profits by diverting funding away from public schools to private for profit schools

Four Steps in the Cycle of Ed Reform Corruption
01
No publicly elected school board means no public accountability
One of the most important purposes of a publicly elected school board is to oversee the spending of tax payer funds to prevent fraud and corruption. This is why one of the most important goals of charter schools is to get rid of publicly elected school boards. Unlike public schools, private profit charter schools are not subject to a public audit of their books. This allows charter school operators to get away with all kinds of fraud and corruption. Charter schools have already robbed American tax payers of billions of dollars – in addition to robbing American children of their right to a good education. The charter school fraud problem is getting worse every year. In this section, we will provide just a few examples. But with charter schools, fraud is not the exception. It is the rule. If tax payers understood the degree of fraud, waste and abuse going on at charter schools, every charter school in the nation would be shut down within a year.

Understanding Charter School Corruption Requires atour of the US
In order to bring some sense of order to the charter school corruption scams, we have divided them up by States, starting in California and working our way east along the southern United States through Arizona, Texas and Florida and then up the East Coast to Pennsylvania and New York and ending in Ohio. Here is a picture index of how this section is organized:

02

A National Charter School Corporate Crime Wave
In May 2014, the Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education issued a report called Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud And Abuse. This report concluded that fraudulent charter operators in 15 states were responsible for losing, misusing or wasting over $100 million in taxpayer money per year. http://integrityineducation.org/charter-fraud/

Since there are actually charter schools in 45 States, it is likely that the total fraud and abuse of tax payers funds by charter schools exceeds $300 million per year. The report contains news stories, criminal records, and other documents to detail abuses such as charter school operators embezzling funds, using tax dollars to illegally support other, non-educational businesses, taking public dollars for services they didn’t provide, inflating their enrollment numbers to boost revenues, and putting children in potential danger by foregoing safety regulations or withholding services. These are only a few specific examples of the thousands of cases of fraud involving charter schools nationwide.

Here is a quote from the report: “Our examination, which focused on 15 large charter markets, found fraud, waste, and abuse cases totaling over $100 million in losses to taxpayers. Despite rapid growth in the charter school industry, no agency, federal or state, has been given the resources to properly oversee it. Given this inadequate oversight, we worry that the fraud and mismanagement that has been uncovered thus far might be just the tip of the iceberg.”
03
In December, 2014, another report was published called When Charter Schools are Nonprofit in Name Only. This report described the common practice of charter schools pretending to be “non-profits” only to sweep all of the money out of the fake non-profit front group and into the pockets of private for profit “management” corporations. These “sweep” contracts divert nearly all of the charter school’s public dollars to for profit corporations – with very little left to actually run the charter schools. Once the public money goes into the black hole of a private corporation, there is no way to keep track of how it is actually spent.
http://www.propublica.org/article/when-charter-schools-are-nonprofit-in-name-only

Here is a quote from the report: “It can be hard for regulators and even schools themselves to follow the money when nearly all of it goes into the accounts of a private company… “We can’t audit the (private) management company,” said Brian Butry, a spokesman for New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.”

There are several reasons that privatization of public schools has led to rampant fraud and outright theft of tax payer dollars. The first is greed and the profit motive. Billionaires cannot help themselves. They are used to taking whatever money they can get their hands on. The second is deregulation combined with lack of accountability. With charter schools, there is no elected school board to watch over how public funds are spent. Even when the fraud is uncovered, there is no elected school board to kick out of office and replace with a better group. Parents have literally no voice once their school has been taken over by the fraudsters. The third problem is that charter schools like to measure how they are doing simply by high stakes tests scores. This inevitably leads to cheating scandals and many other attempts to manipulate the system – such as having low performing students call in “sick” and not take the test – and even handing students the answer sheet before the test or having administrators change students test answers in the dead of night.

In 2005 Ronald Corwin and Joseph Schneider published “The School Choice Hoax.” In this book, they concluded that the number of charter schools that closed due to corruption and mismanagement outnumbered charter schools that closed for academic reasons by a margin of more than three to one.
http://www.abc-clio.com/ABC-CLIOCorporate/product.aspx?pc=D7793C

The only solution to corruption and fraud is to not allow private corporations to make profits off of public schools. The only way this will happen is to ban charter schools. Hopefully, the fraud stories from the following 7 states will help convince more Americans that charter school fraud factories need to be shut down.
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#1: California… The Golden State
As of the 2014 school year, California has about 1,000 charter schools affecting about 500,000 students. The entire nation has about 7,000 charter schools controlling the lives of 2.5 million students. So California represents about 20% of our nation’s charter school corruption problem. Charter schools are virtually unregulated in California. Thus charter school corruption is rampant in California. It has been rampant since it started in 1999.

From 1999 until it went out of business in 2004, the California Charter Academy was the state’s largest charter school operation, with more than 4,557 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. In 2004, the State of California Department of Education began looking into allegations of financial fraud at the charter chain.

This led to criminal charges against the executives of a charter school operation after an audit found they had misused at least $25.6 million in public education money, including $2.6 million for personal expenses. The audit found that executives of the now-closed California Charter Academy used public funds to pay for personal boats, travel, health spa visits, Disney-related merchandise and more. Two employees even paid their income taxes with $42,000 in school funds.

In 2010, the former principal of Northwest Academy Canoga Park charter school plead guilty to embezzlement. Edward Peter Fiszer, 40, pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement by a public officer and admitted that the dollar-value exceeded $1.3 million. Fiszer was sentenced to five years in state prison.

Also in California in 2012, a probe into a charter school was prompted after a former employee blew the whistle on suspicious financial activity between the school and a real estate company owned by the school’s founder and “chief executive,” Ben Chavis. Chavis’s company also owns the building leased to the school in the urban East Oakland Laurel District.The Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team that conducted the investigation has brought into question up to $3 million of questionable transactions over the past three years between the charter school and Chavis’s real estate company. The allegation is that Chavis has been embezzling with the aid of his wife, who works as an administrator as well as a consultant to the school. The team concluded that “several companies that conduct business with the charter schools are owned by the founder and/or his spouse, and payment for these services are signed by one or both of these individuals.”

In 2011, a charter school finance director faced charges of embezzling nearly $400,000 to support a prescription narcotics habit, Santa Rosa police officials said. Sheila Accornero is suspected of writing checks to herself and hiding money through accounting techniques during the five years she managed the books for the Kid Street Learning Center Charter School on Davis Street, Sgt. Michael Lazzarini said. “It appears that all the money went to drugs,” said Lazzarini, who runs the property crimes unit. “
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In 2013, a jury convicted the founders of the Ivy Academia charter school in the San Fernando of embezzling public funds and filing filing false tax returns. Eugene Selivanov and his wife Tatyana Berkovich founded Ivy Academia in 2004 as a state funded charter school. An audit three years later found the couple had not kept public money separate from its for-profit companies. During a three-week trial, prosecutors alleged the couple filed false tax returns and used $200,000 in public funds to buy groceries, clothes and other personal items – and to fund a separate private school!

In 2014, according to an investigation by the California State Auditor, the Cato School of Reason Charter School registered and collected millions of taxpayer dollars for students who were actually attending private schools.

Also in 2014, in California, a charter school con man admitted to stealing more than $7 million worth of computers from the US government by creating fake online schools and then selling the computers on Craig’s List. The total loss to the tax payers of this scam was more than $30 million since 2007.

Also in 2014, a charter school board member in Newport Beach California was accused of stealing $750,000. He took the money telling other school board members he was investing it. It turned out he was investing it in himself through a series of money laundering schemes. Tax payer funds disappeared into thin air.
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-charter-school-board-member-charged-theft-20140212-story.html#ixzz2tg0PSWLm

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Arizona…
In 2002, Arizona had 422 charter schools – more than any other State in the nation at the time. More than 10 percent of these charter schools have since closed with other charter schools taking their place in a rotating shell game. Currently, Arizona has about 500 charter schools affecting about 200,000 children. In Arizona, in 2012, the Arizona Republic found that board members and administrators from 17 charter schools “profiting from their affiliations by doing business with schools they oversee.” Investigators reviewed thousands of pages of federal tax returns, audits, corporate filings, and records filed with the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools. The analysis looked at the 50 largest non-profit charter schools in the state as well as schools with assets of more than $10 million. For-profit schools were not analyzed because their tax records are not public. The Republic’s analysis found at least 17 contracts or arrangements, totaling more than $70 million over five years and involving about 40 school sites, in which money from the non-profit charter school went to for-profit or non-profit companies run by board members, executives or their relatives.
http://archive.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/20121016insiders-benefiting-charter-deals.html

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Texas…
Like Arizona, Texas has about 500 charter schools affecting about 200,000 students. In April 2008, an investigation by the Dallas Morning News reported that out of 206 charter schools in Texas, 93 of them – or almost half – had been bilking the state out as much as $26 million dollars per year by over counting their enrollment. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is working to recover $17 million of the $26 million from nearly half of the charters now operating in Texas. TEA records show that 20 schools went out of business before the state could recover its money, leaving taxpayers holding a $9 million bag of debt. Due to the lack of transparency at charter schools, no one knows for sure if the charter school debt is really $26 million dollars. The actual amount of fraud could be much more.
http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2008/04/charter-schools-mismanagement-fraud.html

Florida…
Like Texas and Arizona, Florida has about 500 charter schools affecting more than 200,000 children. Pushing charter schools on the children of Florida was one of the main goals of presidential candidate and former Florida governor, Jeb Bush – who also received millions of dollars from Bill Gates. In a 2007 editorial called “Charter Schools Run Wild,” the St. Petersburg Times of Florida noted that in the state of Florida: “Those lobbyists, and an embarrassingly compliant state Department of Education, have turned charter education into a $560-million-a-year enterprise that is so immune to oversight that an Escambia school convicted of fraudulently using its students to work on road crews is still receiving tax money. A Pensacola school where not a single student has passed the state’s standardized reading and math tests in four years is still receiving tax money. A Vero Beach school investigated twice for suspicion of cheating on standardized tests is still receiving tax money.”
http://www.sptimes.com/2007/04/01/Opinion/Charter_schools_run_w.shtml

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In 2011, the former director of Life Skills Center Charter School in Florida, John Wyche, was sentenced to serve more than six years in prison for misusing more than $750,000 in state education monies to sustain a failing apartment complex that he owned

In 2012, the former home of a shuttered charter school was auctioned off after Great Florida Bank won a $2.24 million foreclosure judgment. The Miami-Dade County School Board shut down the Balere Language Academy after parents complained of house parties with alcohol and other distasteful promotions.
http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/blog/morning-edition/2012/12/charter-school-building-heads-to.html

In April 2014, the League of Women Voters of Florida issued a report on fraud of charter schools. The report was shocking. They found that while public schools spent more than 80% of their funds on classroom instruction, charter schools spent barely 40% on classroom instruction. Charter schools spent much less on teachers and much more on overhead costs, management and rental fees. Charter schools had a closure rate of 20% per year. Numerous members of the State legislature benefited directly or indirectly from charter school kickbacks.
http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1103316066537-1070/LWV+Final+Report+Statewide+Study+1-3.pdf

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Thus, how charter schools make a profit is by cutting teachers in half. No wonder charter school operators want to get rid of teachers unions!

In June 2014, an investigation by the Orlando Sun Sentinel found, “Unchecked charter-school operators are exploiting South Florida’s public school system, collecting taxpayer dollars for schools that quickly shut down.” How this scam works is that 56 South Florida charter schools were started and got a lot of public money. Then they closed leaving the local public school district to pick up the pieces. The scam artists included Charter Schools USA – an outfit we will talk more about when we get to Pennsylvania. The scams cost local public school districts more than one million dollars in lost funding.

Here are a couple of quotes from the article:
“It’s almost mind-blowing what’s going on,” said Rosalind Osgood, a Broward School Board member. “They just get away with it.”

“They’re public schools in the front door; they’re for-profit closed entities in the back door,” said Kathleen Oropeza, who co-founded FundEducationNow.org, an education advocacy group based in Orlando. “There’s no transparency; the public has no ability to see where the profits are, how the money is spent.”

In August 2014, another Florida investigation of charter school operations found millions of taxpayer dollars misdirected from classrooms and students to management companies like charter school chain operator Charter Schools USA. Charter Schools USA uses tax-exempt bonds to build schools that it then rents to its affiliates- basically overcharging them by tens of millions of dollars in extra school rental charges that get passed on to the tax payers.

What Charter School USA does very well is provide campaign funding for State legislators. State records indicate Charter Schools USA spends nearly $2 million per year in bribes/lobbying to the State legislature and the State Governor.
http://www.wtsp.com/story/news/investigations/2014/08/21/charter-school-profits-on-real-estate/14420317/

Pennsylvania…
Pennsylvania has about 170 charter schools affecting more than 100,000 children. In 2010, five Philadelphia charter officials plead guilty to or were convicted of federal fraud charges, and 18 charter schools in the city were under federal investigation based on allegations including financial mismanagement, nepotism, conflicts of interest, unusual salary arrangements for chief executives, and complex real estate deals in which charters leased facilities from related organizations. This was part of a national investigation. Here is a quote from the report: “In the last five years, the Inspector General’s Office has opened more than 40 criminal investigations of charter schools nationwide that have resulted in 18 indictments and 15 convictions. The offenses have included embezzling, inflating enrollment to obtain more funding, changing grades, and creating companies to divert money from schools.”
http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20100503_U_S__probe_widens_to_18_city_charters.html

In July 2012, the FBI charged charter school promoter Dorothy June Brown with stealing more than $6.5 million in school funds. Dorothy had a habit of stealing from charter schools she had started in Philadelphia. Between 2007 to 2011, Brown robbed $6.5 million from three charter schools she founded. In 2013, the charter school promoter plead guilty to most of the counts.
http://www.fbi.gov/philadelphia/press-releases/2012/charter-school-founder-dorothy-june-brown-charged-in-6-million-fraud-scheme

In June 2014, a study was released showing that Pennsylvania charter schools got $200 million more in tax dollars for special needs students than they actually spent on special needs students.
http://thenotebook.org/sites/default/files/PASBO%20special%20education.pdf

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As best we can tell, instead of special ed money serving special needs students, it appears that the windfall has funded things like multi-million dollar CEO compensation, over 19,000 local TV commercials urging kids and their parents to sign up for a charter school that has one of the worst academic records in the nation, a jet and Florida condo, generous political campaign contributions and a 20,000 square foot mansion on the beach in Palm Beach Florida. Here’s a three minute youtube video produced by KEYSEC Co-Chair Mark B. Miller that clearly explains how this happens.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRw5oO02KpA

In September 2014, the Center for Popular Democracy, Integrity in Education, and ACTION United published a report that disclosed charter school officials in Pennsylvania had defrauded at least $30 million intended for school children since 1997.
http://populardemocracy.org/sites/default/files/charter-schools-PA-Fraud.pdf

Examples of charter school fraud described in the report included:
In 2007, one charter operator was caught diverting $2.6 million in school funds to a church property he also operated.

In 2008, another charter school operator was caught spending millions in school funds to bail out other nonprofits associated with the school’s parent corporation.

In 2009, a pair of charter school operators stole more than $900,000 from the school by using fraudulent invoices for home improvement expenses.

In 2012, another charter school operator was sentenced to prison for stealing $522,000 to prop up a failing restaurant.

In 2014, another charter school operator was indicted for diverting $8 million of school funds to buy houses and an airplane.

In November 2014, Pennsylvania voters decided they had finally had enough of their corrupt pro-charter school governor Tom Corbett and voted to replace him with Tom Wolf, a governor who pledged to support and protect real public schools.

On December 6 2014, the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools issued a press release calling for the Pennsylvania Attorney General to investigate charter school fraud.

http://wearepcaps.org/2014/12/06/pcaps-calls-on-pennsylvania-attorney-general-kathleen-kane-to-investigate-charter-school-fraud-prevention-practices-requests-by-community-and-parents-for-information-go-unanswered/

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Here is a quote from their press release: “After uncovering $30 Million in fraud by Pennsylvania Charter schools, members of the community and parents have seen their “Right to Know” requests for information about Philadelphia Charter Schools fraud prevention policies go unanswered. A formal complaint will be filed requesting that the PA Attorney General open an investigation into these private, non-profits and how they care for taxpayer dollars.”

The charter school scam in Pennsylvania is being run by a wealthy attorney named Vahan Gureghain. He is the founder of a corporation called CSMI which stands for charter school Management Incorporated.

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Gureghain runs Pennsylvania’s largest charter school – with more than 3,000 students. He has donated more than one million dollars to political campaigns of pro-charter school candidates including near a half million dollars to former Governor Tom Corbett. Apparently, this was not enough money to get Tom Corbett re-elected.

Merry Christmas Pennsylvania… We are Stealing your Schools!

York (Pennsylvania) School District Takeover by Charter Schools USA
In December 2014, a judge removed the public schools of York City, Pennsylvania, from their publicly elected school board and handed them over to a receiver, business man David Meckley. He has said he will turn the all eightschools over to a for-profit charter chain, Charter Schools, USA. The school district got into financial trouble after former governor slashed $1 billion in State funding for public schools. This meant an $8.4 million cut for the York School District. The Governor then appointed David Meckley to fix the financial problem that the governor had created. When the elected school board refused to go along with the conversion of the school district to charter schools, Meckley got a judge to sign a court order forcing the conversion. This is what the local newspaper said:
The community clearly opposes the plan. Yet while they have no say in the matter, city property owners’ tax dollars now will be used not only for education but to boost the profits of Charter Schools USA. Since the district is struggling financially, how can anyone justify diverting even a penny away from the students?”

https://gadflyonthewallblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/merry-christmas-were-stealing-your-schools/

Below is an image of parents protesting the takeover of their York School District.

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As we noted in the section on Florida charters, Charter Schools USA is an extremely corrupt corporation. They spend as much on fees and leases profiting upper management as they do on teachers. Another Charter Schools USA school in Indiana kept more than $6 million of “misappropriated” state funds for 1,800 students who never enrolled in its schools. The CEO of Charter Schools USA Jonathan Hage has become very rich from diverting funds away from students and towards things like his personal yacht which he named“‘Fishin’ 4 Schools.”

New York…
New York has about 250 charter schools affecting more than 90,000 children. On December 1 2014, the Alliance for Quality Education released an analysis of charter school financial fraud, finding that more than $54 million in tax payer funds had been diverted away from schools by charter school operators in New York state in just the past year.
http://www.aqeny.org/2014/12/release-new-report-reveals-new-york-states-charter-schools-pose-54-million-fraud-risk-to-taxpayers/

Here is a shocking quote from this report: “State agencies have audited just a quarter of New York’s more than 250 charter schools since 2005, largely relying on them to police themselves. Yet in a startling 95 percent of the charters examined, auditors found mismanagement and internal control deficiencies that have occasioned $28.2 million in known fraud, waste, or mismanagement.”

Put in plain English, in 9 years the State of New York was only able to investigate 62 charter schools. Of these 62 charter schools, 59 were found to have committed fraud or mismanagement! Yet New York taxpayers spend over $1.5 billion on these corrupt charter schools each year.

Examples from the report included:
#1: A New York City charter school operator issued credit cards to its executives allowing them to charge more than $75,000 in unexplained charges in less than two years.
#2: A Long Island charter school operator paid vendors over half a million dollars without competitive bids.
#3: An Albany charter school operator lost as much as $2.3 million by purchasing a site for its elementary school rather than leasing it.
#4: A Rochester charter school operator awarded contracts to board members, relatives, and other related parties rather than get competitive bids.
#5: A Buffalo charter school operator signed a leasing arrangement that paid more than $5 million to a building company at a 20 percent interest rate.

It is likely that the actual fraud is three times worse than the known fraud.

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Ohio
Ohio has about 400 charter schools affecting more than 120,000 children. Ohio seems to be the nation’s leader in charter school corruption which is why we have saved them for last. In 2013, an Ohio man and his brother plead guilty to an alleged $1.8 million charter school fraud in Cleveland. Both were sentenced to one year probation. Also in 2013, in a similar case, prosecutors charged a charter school operator of diverting at least $1.2 million dollars in public funds away from his charter school and into other businesses and multiple homes. In 2014, the judge gave the operator 5 years of probation.
http://www.cleveland.com/court-justice/index.ssf/2014/02/lion_of_judah_charter_school_o.html

In another case, a charter school treasurer plead guilty to stealing $470,000 from 4 Ohio charter schools. The funds were supposed to be used for the education of students at four charter schools in Columbus, Youngstown and Dayton between 2005 and 2011, according to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.

In 2013, 19 charter schools closed in the State of Ohio, joining 150 other charter schools in Ohio that had already been shut down since 2005. With about 400 total charter schools in Ohio, that is a failure rate of over 40 percent!
“$1.4 billion has been spent since 2005 through school year 2012-2013 on charter schools that have never gotten any higher grade than an F or a D,”

In 2014, a corporation called White Hat that runs a fake charter school called Life Skills – with one of the worst graduation rates in the nation – began fooling kids and their parents into signing up with a key word advertising campaign aimed at folks who are online.

Private charter school companies are advertising on television, radio, billboards, and even automated telephone messages to entice students away from public schools using “key words” like free, flexible, and find your future. The funds to pay for this massive misleading advertising blitz comes from State tax payers. Ohio charter schools enroll less than 7 percent of Ohio’s students yet receive 11 percent of all state funds set aside for primary and secondary education.
http://www.ohio.com/news/local/charter-school-operators-use-key-words-to-entice-families-away-from-public-schools-1.491420

As in Florida, charter schools are closing at a record rate in Ohio and sticking tax payers with the bill
Charter schools are closing in Ohio at a record rate after a series of fraud cases were uncovered. The tax payers are left to pick up the pieces and the kids suffer the loss of their schools and their education.

15 Charter schools are funded by the state on the backs of school districts and taxpayers. Because charter schools are exempt from most state laws and do not have a publicly elected school board, there is almost no oversight of spending at charter schools. Over $900 million dollars per year is diverted away from public schools to charter schools in Ohio every year. But the bill doesn’t stop there. When there is financial mismanagement, charter schools can be closed. But it is almost impossible to get the money invested in charter schools back. Nearly $187 million in tax money spent on failed charter schools is still uncollected.

Conclusion
Fraud, corruption, mismanagement, bribes and kick back schemes… This is what happens when billionaires and their corrupt politicians promote private, for profit charter schools that are not under the control of a locally elected public school board. In this chapter, and in previous chapters, we have described a whole new set of fraud techniques that have developed a whole new charter school language. For example, cream skimming means taking all of the most successful, easy to teach and profitable children away from public schools and putting them into charter schools. Dumping means taking the poorest most challenging special needs students and expelling them from charter schools when they are not able to keep up.

What parents need to understand is that charter schools were never meant to work. Charter schools are simply another of the weapons of mass deception that billionaires are using to destroy and privatize public schools. It does not matter to the billionaires that 95% of all charter schools suffer from fraud and mismanagement. The real purpose of charter schools is to divert public funds away from real public schools. Measured through this lens, charter schools are serving their purpose. As evidence of the billionaires plan to divert funds away from public schools and into private for profit charter schools, check out this chart of the change in funding from major foundations (also known as billionaire tax dodges) since 2000:

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Billions of dollars that used to go towards the improvement of public schools has been shifted towards the funding of private for profit charter schools. Thankfully, because of all of the charter school scandals, public support for charter schools is starting to drop. An August 2014 poll in Michigan found that 73 percent of responders want a moratorium on the creation of new charter schools.
http://www.freep.com/article/20140831/NEWS06/308310070/charter-schools-poll-Michigan

In communities around the nation, announcements about new charter operations opening up have been greeted with public protests. While law markers continue to pass laws promoting charter schools, they do so at their peril. The day will come when parents will blame legislators for the harm that has been inflicted on their children. Hopefully, these corrupt legislators will be voted out of office just as Tom Corbett was in Pennsylvania.

What is next?
Now that we better understand the level of fraud that occurs in charter schools, we will take a closer look at how one particular charter school called KIPP inflicts abuse on children forced to endure its unusual methods. 

Originally published at Weapons of Mass Deception