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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Charter School Opponents File Complaint Seeking to Have the Initiative Ruled Unconstitutional

Posted by on Wed, Jul 3, 2013 at 3:49 PM

A coalition led by the League of Women Voters, El Centro de la Raza, the Washington Association of School Administrators, and the Washington Education Association, has filed a complaint (pdf) in King County Superior Court seeking to have the charter schools initiative, I-1240, tossed out as unconstitutional.

Washington's constitution clearly states:

ARTICLE IX, 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.

The plaintiffs argue that privately-run charter schools are neither uniform nor common. Established case law has defined a "common school" as “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 a school district.” The plaintiffs have a strong argument to make that charter schools don't meet that definition.

 

Comments (40) RSS

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1
I'm lean towards charter schools more than most people around here but that language certainly seems pretty cut and dry against it. Should be interesting how this shakes out in the state Supreme Court.
Posted by spoons on July 3, 2013 at 4:00 PM · Report this
2
This is great news. Let's hope the courts agree with the plain meaning of the State Constitution. Charter schools exist to privatize the public school system and remove it from the control of the voters. That's as clear a constitutional violation as you'll see.
Posted by junipero on July 3, 2013 at 4:08 PM · Report this
fletc3her 3
That does seem fairly damning.

What I've never quite been able to figure out is why charter school advocates don't simply work with school boards to create the schools that they want to see. There are plenty of innovative schools in the state like Thornton Creek Elementary's expeditionary learning program, Tacoma's School of the Arts (SOTA), Geiger Montessori, Bremerton's West Hills STEM Academy, Mount Rainier High School's International Baccalaureate program, and many others. These all have the blessing of school boards so did not require a "charter".
Posted by fletc3her on July 3, 2013 at 4:20 PM · Report this
4
@3, because their goal isn't to produce new and innovative models of learning, it's to capture public dollars in private pockets. They have done a fantastic PR job but charter schools are about making money, not helping kids.
Posted by c'mon girlfriend on July 3, 2013 at 4:25 PM · Report this
mrbarky 5
@ 3 because socialism. Also teacher's unions.
Posted by mrbarky on July 3, 2013 at 4:35 PM · Report this
6
I never saw the point of charter schools, isn't that what private schools are for?
Posted by Seattle14 on July 3, 2013 at 4:37 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 7
Duh. The purpose is to destroy unions and public institutions, to ensure that the rich get richer. After all, unless America is truly a third world country, the upper classes won't be able to afford a nanny, driver, maid, cook, laundress, gardener and multiple security guards, What else is new?
Posted by kk in seattle on July 3, 2013 at 4:54 PM · Report this
Big Sven 8
Voucher programs are about dismantling public schools, which is why you see essentially zero Dems supporting them. Charter schools are about trying out things that the WEA doesn't like, such as laying off bad teachers before you lay off good teachers, which is why you see so many Dems supporting them.

MN has had charter schools for TWENTY YEARS, and only 5% of the students are in them. So the argument that they will erode public education is demonstrably false.
Posted by Big Sven http://onedatapoint.blogspot.com/ on July 3, 2013 at 4:54 PM · Report this
9
It will come down to whether or not charter schools are considered "public schools." Interesting question. I think the answer is "yes," but we'll see. The WA Supreme Court is a political animal tilted to the left, so I won't be surprised if they overturn the initiative. The liberals in this state aren't so fond of democracy, are they?
Posted by Noicons on July 3, 2013 at 4:57 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 10
@8,

Then why do charter schools perform worse, on average, than public? And how is it that there's even less accountability for charter schools than public?
Posted by keshmeshi on July 3, 2013 at 5:25 PM · Report this
11
@4 is exactly right.
Look at the fun in FL. See who controls the bulk of the charter school real estate. Look who is getting in on the charter school PR.
http://mothercrusader.blogspot.com/2013/…
Posted by StuckInUtah on July 3, 2013 at 5:29 PM · Report this
12
"charter schools are about making money, not helping kids"

ah yes the millions of parents and kids choosing charter schools all over places like new Orleans, DC, Chicago, most of the African American, are too stupid to see their pawns in the game of bill and Melinda gates who stand to make ONE MILLION DOLLARS through their support for charter schools!

and oh yes, when considering what works in schools, obviously you don't want to emulate what private schools do in terms of firing bad teachers, or giving a principal real power. no, sir. cuz the top 1% they don't know anything about education. what works in it. no sir, let's continue to rely on fossilized public school systems that are graduating up to 50 or 60% of students from high school, woo hoo!
Posted by public or just mediocre? on July 3, 2013 at 5:35 PM · Report this
13
Dumbshit troll @12 - there are hardly millions of kids attending charter schools. Charter schools cherry pick their students, so they frequently don't have many kids. Furthermore, many charter schools will only take kids in K-1, thus as you get into the higher grades, there are fewer students due to "counseling out" and those who move or leave to return to public schools by choice. A charter cohort might start with 75 kids, but by 6th grade, may only have 32 kids. But if all 32 graduate, the charter will claim they have 100% graduation rate....who cares about the 43 who didn't make it.....
The Recovery School District in New Orleans - charters - is an unmitigated disaster. Do some real research - it's even worse than before.
Btw - private schools have nice, small class sizes. That would be lovely to emulate in the public schools, wouldn't it?
Posted by StuckInUtah on July 3, 2013 at 5:54 PM · Report this
14
I am a teacher in the Seattle school district and I oppose charter schools. I think that the creative approach schools (Thornton Creek, Queen Anne Elementary, and Hawthorne, to name a few) are a much better option. Creative approach schools are more flexible in curriculum, teach using long term, ended projects, use WEA members as teachers, and focus on specific subjects (one uses geography and the arts, while another has a huge focus on technology). I wonder, however, how the Washington Supreme Court could rule that a creative approach school is common and uniform and a charter school isn't.
Posted by frizzmonster on July 3, 2013 at 5:56 PM · Report this
15
@14 if we didn't have the gun of charter schools and firing your asses when you're bad at your job, none of those schools would even exist.
Posted by Sugartit on July 3, 2013 at 8:26 PM · Report this
Soupytwist 16
@14 - Because, in theory, the public creative approach schools don't set up barriers to enrollment like charter school s' applications.

I spent the last year volunteering in a charter school and I can't support them at all. The lack of resources made available to kids in order to have funds available for flashy public presentations was revolting. Students who struggled due to learning disability or had zero support at home were systematically pushed out. Students who weren't accepted to 4-year colleges were not allowed to graduate so that the school could continue to use the line "100% of our students are accepted." The students were commodities used to increase the value of the institution, when the reverse should be true. But the company that runs the school made a profit, so that's what matters, right?
Posted by Soupytwist http://twitter.com/katherinesmith on July 3, 2013 at 8:27 PM · Report this
17
"MN has had charter schools for TWENTY YEARS, and only 5% of the students are in them."

Yes, and that proves that even after 20 years, 40 states, charters STILL have not proven their worth on any scaleable, useful way. Where is this innovation that should be spreading like wildfire through this country? Still waiting.

Frizzmonster, a creative approach school is a common school mainly because Randy Dorn oversees it. The Constitution goes on to say that the superintendent is responsible for the common schools and charters are not "common schools."

Also to understand, the coalition group has SEVEN reasons for the courts to take this on. Seven. The one around giving levy money to charters when voters did not vote the money for those charter schools is real and valid. Voters should not give money away to schools that don't exist when they voted.

I believe this is a solid case that will either limit what charters can do or throw out 1240 altogether.
Posted by westello on July 3, 2013 at 8:27 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 18
@9: "The liberals in this state aren't so fond of democracy, are they?"

We're big fans of the constitution. For some reason, that presents a problem for you.
Posted by kk in seattle on July 3, 2013 at 8:49 PM · Report this
19
We're big fans of the constitution. For some reason, that presents a problem for you.

Except when you keep whining about no state income tax, and seek ways to impose one through subterfuge. Then it's a matter of your lies being just fine.
Posted by Noicons on July 3, 2013 at 9:11 PM · Report this
20
It's a shame that for all of their money, the charter initiative folks couldn't pay enough to write an initiative that was aligned with our state constitution.

Hey, when you get your laws off the rack from ALEC, you shouldn't expect a tailored fit.
Posted by Charlie Mas on July 3, 2013 at 10:08 PM · Report this
Big Sven 21
@13: "Charter schools cherry pick their students, so they frequently don't have many kids."
@16: "Because, in theory, the public creative approach schools don't set up barriers to enrollment like charter school s' applications."

Please show me where in the complaint it's alleged that charter schools cherry pick students or set up barriers to enrollment. SPOILER: it doesn't. Know why? Because the passed initiative says...

"...Require that public charter schools be free and open to all students just like traditional public schools are, and that students be selected by lottery to ensure fairness if more students apply than a school can accommodate..."
Posted by Big Sven http://onedatapoint.blogspot.com/ on July 3, 2013 at 11:41 PM · Report this
Goldy 22
@19 Find me the section in the state constitution that says no income tax. It doesn't. Anywhere.

Of course, in 1933, after voters approved an income tax with 70 percent of the vote, the state supreme court by a 5-4 margin threw out the initiative, ruling that income is property. Meaning it can be taxed as property, subject to the same limits as other property.

But in no other state, nor in the federal courts, is there any other surviving precedent that defines income as property. (It's a transaction.) Several well respected constitutional attorneys advise that today's court would likely overturn the 1933 ruling.

So it's not subterfuge to craft legislation that would lead to a challenge of this precedent, in the same way it wasn't subterfuge to craft a challenge to the two-thirds supermajority requirement.
Posted by Goldy on July 4, 2013 at 12:00 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 23
What everyone else said.

Including @22 responding to @19 - our state constitution does permit a flat 1 percent income tax with one exemption, which can be enacted by a majority vote of the legislature, however.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on July 4, 2013 at 12:24 AM · Report this
Big Sven 24
@22: I may disagree with you on a number of things, but please keep up the pressure on the income tax. Someday we will get it. I think the last time, if it had been revenue neutral, we might have gotten it. I love Washington, but I hang my head in shame at how regressive our tax structure is. Idaho is less regressive, for fuck's sake.

Is there any organization out there that is fighting for progressive taxation? If people are suddenly gripped with the urge to work on getting the ball rolling again, how do they do so?
Posted by Big Sven http://onedatapoint.blogspot.com/ on July 4, 2013 at 12:39 AM · Report this
25
@24 and if it was not on the ballot in a heavy gop year
Posted by Seattle14 on July 4, 2013 at 12:45 AM · Report this
26
Sven @ 8, 21:

Not only are you a fucking idiot, you are a fucking liar.
Posted by Not with the WEA on July 4, 2013 at 2:01 AM · Report this
27
@13 -- could you refrain from personal attacks, it's rude and not respectful discourse.

"there are hardly millions of kids attending charter schools" really? cite? so okay say you're right, it's only 500,000 so what the point was students andparents choose them so the theory that it's all a millionaire conspiracy is a bit off, as you are saying lots of parents choosing them are dupes. how condescending and rude.

"Charter schools cherry pick their students, so they frequently don't have many kids." wrong. got cite?

" Furthermore, many charter schools will only take kids in K-1, thus as you get into the higher grades, there are fewer students due to "counseling out" and those who move or leave to return to public schools by choice" what are you talking about? cite? I think you're making crap up. And anyway if they take kids in K1 open to all students, they're not cherry picking and the lawsuit claim is false.
". A charter cohort might start with 75 kids, but by 6th grade, may only have 32 kids. But if all 32 graduate, the charter will claim they have 100% graduation rate....who cares about the 43 who didn't make it....." not sure what charters you are talking about. cites please.
" The Recovery School District in New Orleans - charters - is an unmitigated disaster. Do some real research - it's even worse than before. " hello, you're talking out of your ass. the public schools in new Orleans were a disaster before and many democrats and liberals are supporting the charters there and also: parents.

" Btw - private schools have nice, small class sizes. That would be lovely to emulate in the public schools, wouldn't it? " yes, perhaps if we allowed principals to hire and fire and evaluated teachers instead of giving them jobs for life, the public would vote to fund public schools at a higher level, but no, the teacher unions and public school supporters routinely fight ANY change in the direction of accountability, so the public doesn't want to fund failing public schools more.

okay, that the dumbshit answers dumbshit. cry dumbshit all you want the point is where there are charters it's PARENTS WHO CHOOSE THEM who we should look to to decide if they are a good option to have or not. no one is forced into a charter school, so if they're full of students, parents are choosing them, why should I trust people like you who are rude and don't back up what you say and say drivel like new Orleans schools were a success previously instead of the millions okay so what 500,000 parents who have chosen charter schools? are you saying those parents are too stupid to have that choice, we should take it away form them? how fucking condescending can you get? the defenders of the status quo freaking out and spouting drivel really proves the point that we need us some change big time.
More...
Posted by parents choose charters right? on July 4, 2013 at 9:59 AM · Report this
28
@21 Try this on for size:
http://thenotebook.org/blog/125141/distr…

I'm pretty sure the Pennsylvania charter laws say about the same thing as the WA laws - all copied from ALEC - but since there is little to no accountability...

In Utah, charter school applications are often handed out at ward houses. Guess who won't be attending those charter schools?

There are a whole bunch of ways charters cherry pick - even though they aren't supposed to. http://www.thecherrycreeknews.com/news-m…
And I never said this was in the complaint. I addressed the troll @12 who was presenting faulty info. But perhaps you are the troll.
Posted by StuckInUtah on July 4, 2013 at 11:45 AM · Report this
29
Reuters did some investigating into charter cherry picking as well.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/1…
Posted by StuckInUtah on July 4, 2013 at 11:59 AM · Report this
Big Sven 30
@28: "But perhaps you are the troll."

This is the second time in the last couple of weeks that you've suggested I was not acting ethically here- the previous time you opined that maybe I didn't actually have teenage kids.

Just stop. I'he been on SLOG for six years. Even got to be a guest writer one Friday, when they used to do that. Many people here know me on "the outside."

You present lots of references to support your arguments, so it's not like you need the ad hominems. I understand that living in a parched wasteland full of right wing bigots would make anyone cranky, but 95% of the registered commenters on SLOG are here for the long haul and treat each other accordingly.
Posted by Big Sven http://onedatapoint.blogspot.com/ on July 4, 2013 at 12:47 PM · Report this
31
Goldy, you overflowing bag of pus, there's nothing you shitheads won't stop at, no lie you won't tell.
Posted by Noicons on July 4, 2013 at 12:58 PM · Report this
32
I've been here for years too. You are the one asserting that you are so supportive and aware of what is going on in public schools (2 days of testing - ha), but aren't really versed in the reality of public schools. Again, I was not originally addressing you - I was addressing the troll - but you stepped in and claimed that what I was saying was not in the complaint. I never said it was. HOWEVER, you should be aware that just because the initiative SAYS something, doesn't mean that's how it's going to be. I've been researching charter schools for a good many years now, and if anything, they are consistent in the number of ways they flaunt the rules - and Utah, Arizona, Ohio, Florida, etc. - the charter operators have the fraud/profit thing down pat. Privatization is the goal, getting public monies into private hands, and WA's intiative is geared more towards those big flashy charter management companies rather than towards building grassroots charter schools that the fools at DFER, LEV, and WSPTA were attempting to sell. But if you believe that the charter operators will be following the WA law to the spirit and letter - i.e. not cherry picking students - then I've got some fabulous, fertile land in the middle of the salt flats to sell you.
Posted by StuckInUtah on July 4, 2013 at 1:08 PM · Report this
Big Sven 33
And then there's the other 5%...

@28: The PA law is very different from the WA law. Here's what it says: "Discrimination is prohibited in admission decisions; however, the charter school may limit admission to a particular grade level or area of concentration and my set reasonable criteria to evaluate prospective students, consistent with the charter."

My original point was that the lawsuit is exhaustive in its list of complaints, yet it doesn't try to make the argument that charter schools are exclusive in their admittance. The news stories you cite are in fact disturbing, but if these aren't isolated instances but rather a broad problem, I would like to see evidence that the very deep pocketed, very litigious teacher unions are willing to present in court.
Posted by Big Sven http://onedatapoint.blogspot.com/ on July 4, 2013 at 1:12 PM · Report this
34
And again, I never said the lawsuit made this argument. I was responding to the troll and his "millions" of children.

But you'd rather union bash. Go for it.
Posted by StuckInUtah on July 4, 2013 at 1:31 PM · Report this
35
@34

troll here. my, how you ad hominem, guess anyone disagreeing with you is a troll? like barack Obama, or Emanuel, or mayors of dc new Orleans and Newark?

you misquote and mis attack. I said millions of parents and children. let's say total charter population is ....what, 500,000? easily could be with new Orleans dc and 40 states having charters. anywaaaaay add their parents you could have million. but then, the point isn't the number is it, the point is that parents and kids are CHOOSING charters, not ONE is forced to go, so therefore, really, if you wanto to say charters suck you're also saying all those consumers of education are what. stupid? not as smart as ....you? what?

your post @32 sort of admits the complaint will lose, since the Washington law complies with requirement of open to all. iow you are predicting failure in charters because here and there some cherry picked. as you showed with anecdotes. but then here and there public school officials steal millions, too? right? doesn't show much in general. at bottom the point is this:

the public schools are not doing well, mas' claims of record high graduation rates to the contrary. we're slipping. and right now there is a stranglehold where you are stuck with crappy teachers or they get recylced to the schools that need them least. and the entire union and public school establishment works in lockstep to fight for the right to be a teacher and never get fired for mere incompetence. this in turn limits the public's willingness to fund public schools because in fact the public doesn't control them, the teacher cartel does. call it union bashing, sure, here, I bash the wea. because I never see them pushing for real accountability that exists in EVERY other profession...no, the teachers want the same rent and monopoly protection the seattle cabbies have. a lock. no competition. this means the principal can't hire and fire and the board doesn't actually run the damn schools. this is why the public is voting for charters and when they are allowed, GOING TO CHARTERS. as for private corporations, give me a break, they're no more evil and rent seeking than are private corporations cleaning up public schools or so called charities buying land from seattle public schools for false claims it will be used for nonprofit thus depriving us the public of nine million bucks and they are no more evil and rent seeking than the jobs for life cartel known as the teachers unions.

you guys want job protection at the cost of education. we're not buying it. charters are just one part of the tools to wedge back public control over public schools, hiring and firing reform is another one -- both are resited tooth and claw by the unions and school establishments. try firing a teach, it takes practically a federal style court case, two years of hearings, it's just too damn hard, so principals don't do it, so we get too many crappy teachers. yes, this is n't the only problem but it's a key to the knot of problems because the public doesn't want to throw ever more money into schools that are so resistant to accountability. that's the message of your losing the charter schools initiative vote. doesn't seem like the people suing, got the message.
More...
Posted by pro education pro accountability on July 4, 2013 at 2:38 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 36
@Big Sven- The point is that the history of charter schools is one of failure, and that the majority of high performing charters are (in some manner or another) selecting their student bodies. Charters have no record of out performing public schools. Their only reliable successes have been in lowering teacher pay and transferring public money to private corporations.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings http://www.reddit.com/r/spaceclop on July 4, 2013 at 3:47 PM · Report this
37
@33:
My original point was that the lawsuit is exhaustive in its list of complaints, yet it doesn't try to make the argument that charter schools are exclusive in their admittance. The news stories you cite are in fact disturbing, but if these aren't isolated instances but rather a broad problem, I would like to see evidence that the very deep pocketed, very litigious teacher unions are willing to present in court.

Of course, that fact has nothing whatsoever to do with the constitutional argument against I-1240. After all, Washington doesn't yet (never will, hopefully) have any operational charter schools. There is no Washington-specific evidence of exclusivity, and there won't be unless the constitutional objection to the initiative fails to sway the Justices.

In which case, you can make book on exclusivity in those (privatized, non-union, probably inferior) charters.
Posted by N in Seattle http://peacetreefarm.org on July 4, 2013 at 3:50 PM · Report this
38
The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools.

What a great idea! Because all students learn in "general and uniform" ways! No, wait... Actually, that's Texas Republican levels of fucking stupid.

It's so funny to see the folks here on the left who are anti-choice. Because the last thing poor and middle-class kids need in education is more choice. This is the message sent by reflexive anti-charter school zealots.

There are lots of good, liberal families who choose to send their kids to charter schools, not because they're against public schools on principle, but because it's the best choice for them. And a lot of them love their local charter schools and feel very lucky to have them. How cruel it would be to tell them they don't get that choice anymore, because, well, ideology!

It doesn't matter which schools "perform" on useless standardized tests. All that matters is that some students and parents want better choices. They want choices which the public schools near them can't offer.

Denying these families a choice because of a reflexive distrust of private entities (no less irrational than the reflexive distrust of public entities) is not liberal, nor compassionate. It is, in essence, a conservative position.

Conservatives know which personal choices we should make (because those choices affect society!). Conservatives believe that personal choices (and what is more personal than getting to choose the kind of education one will have?) which differ from their own are, by definition, flawed.

Denying the non-rich the same kinds of choices in education enjoyed by the rich is conservative. Wanting to change the education paradigm so that every student can learn in their own, individual way is liberal.

More...
Posted by LJM on July 4, 2013 at 6:15 PM · Report this
39
School choice is a market-based ideology pushed by none other than the Friedman Foundation, with the help of ALEC. Good old Uncle Milty - he of the no government schools fame. The Friedman Foundation's board is made up primarily of conservatives, though the school choice ideology falls more to the neoliberal side of things. Friedman's ultimate goal was vouchers, but charters as they are now are a big step in the right direction in his mind and that of his foundation.

I do believe in school choice, but within either the public system or the private system, not a system that takes money from both sides and plays by no rules, which is what charters do. Tacoma had one of the first - if not the first - magnet school. Seattle's previous assignment plan was choice-based, and despite the NSAP, they are attempting to keep options available with the option schools and creative approach schools. Seattle is also blessed with a ton of private, independent schools and parochial schools. Families can get boundary exceptions to attend schools in other districts. And Washington State has a pretty strong education system in comparison to many other states.
The issue with the school choice red herring is that it distracts from the bigger issues - how to help the most vulnerable populations like SPED and ELL kids, amd how to help kids growing up in abject poverty. I've watched much of this happen already in AZ and UT - charter schools counseling out the lower achieving kids, the ELL kids, and not even accepting the special Ed kids, and the public schools having to take all the kids. Charters are notorious for dumping the lower achieving kids right before test time - and where do they go? Back to public schools, who then get blamed for "failing" these kids. Neither the kids nor the public school had any "choice" in this. There are charters spending money on publicity ads, enticements to get kids to attend their school (free laptop! Free Wii!), hiring unqualified teachers because they can get them cheap, using 30-yr-old curriculum they dug out of a school district's recycle bin so the admin could pocket the money saved, renting or buying buildings from family members to host charter schools, hiring all family members to run the charter school, taking public money and sending it to religious cults in other countries - the list goes on and on, and none of these things help the kids in need.
Your attempt to qualify people on the left as anti-choice or conservative because they oppose charters is bullshit. What I am opposed to is public monies being handed out to charter management organizations and other corporations so they can profit off of kids and dismantle public education in the process.
More...
Posted by StuckInUtah on July 4, 2013 at 10:03 PM · Report this
40
The only reason the teachers are against charters is that they're non-union. Their opposition has nothing at all do with the quality of education.
Posted by Noicons on July 5, 2013 at 3:19 PM · Report this

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