The point of charter schools is to provide an alternative to standard public schools. As the text of I-1024 says, public charter schools are “independently managed public schools operated only by qualified nonprofit organizations.” Furthermore, Part I, Section 101 says:
Public charter schools free teachers and principals from burdensome regulations that limit other public schools, giving them the flexibility to innovate and make decisions about staffing, curriculum, and learning opportunities to improve student achievement and outcomes.
In other words, charter schools differ substantially from the standard public schools, with different rules, different staffing, and different management.
But Article IX of the Washington State Constitution clearly says:
SECTION 2 PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM. The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools. The public school system shall include common schools, and such high schools, normal schools, and technical schools as may hereafter be established. But the entire revenue derived from the common school fund and the state tax for common schools shall be exclusively applied to the support of the common schools. [emphasis added]
If words have any meaning, charter schools are unconstitutional. Yes, there is some variation allowed in what counts as a public school. For example, high schools that specialize for language, arts, or technical subjects are allowed under Article IX, Section 2. But it stretches credibility to say that a school that operates under different management and different regulations can be part of the “general and uniform system of public schools.” After all, the entire point of charter schools is to provide an alternative to such general and uniform schools!
Added March 3, 2013: Coalition files legal challenge to state charter-schools law.
I got email this morning from MoveOn, about Fuse Washington’s so-called “Progressive Voters Guide.”
As reported earlier here, Fuse is non-committal on the topic of charter schools: “Most progressive organizations are opposing I-1240. Because there are progressive education advocates on both sides of this initiative, we asked each of the campaigns to present their case.” A progressive advocacy group should be strongly opposed to charter schools, which would drain precious funds from public schools.
The guide lists the “League of Education Voters” as a progressive organization, though it’s goal is to defund public education and support charter schools.
What also pisses me off is their non-committal stance on the 41st LD State Senate race between Democrat Maureen Judge and Republicon Steve Litzow. See Fuse’s endorsement page for the 41st LD: “Although both candidates have progressive endorsements in this race, most progressive organizations are supporting Maureen Judge…Endorsements and Supporters [of Litzow] include: League of Education Voters, Washington Conservation Voters, Cascade Bicycle Club, Equal Rights Washington, SEIU Healthcare 775 NW.”
In the details panel about Litzow, Fuse does say: “But Litzow voted for the Senate Republicans’ surprise budget coup that threw the Senate into gridlock. As part of that conservative takeover, Litzow voted to cut $74 million in education funding and kill the Reproductive Parity Act, which was a top priority for Planned Parenthood and NARAL.”
If you check out Fuse’s recommendations for your LD, by clicking here, please let me know if they’re reasonable, by emailing me (ThinkerFeeler@yahoo.com) or adding a comment here.
“But while charter schools have grown into a $400-million-a-year business in South Florida, receiving about $6,000 in taxpayer dollars for every student enrolled, they continue to operate with little public oversight. Even when charter schools have been caught violating state laws, school districts have few tools to demand compliance.
Charter schools have become a parallel school system unto themselves, a system controlled largely by for-profit management companies and private landlords — one and the same, in many cases — and rife with insider deals and potential conflicts of interest.”
The article gives examples of corruption and wrong-doing.
Read more here: Florida charter schools: big money, little oversight