Archive | December, 2012

Charter Schools in Washington State — by Hook or by Crook?

21 Dec


In the end, the multimillion-dollar charter campaign I-1240 managed to scratch out the slimmest of wins in Washington State — by less than 42,000 votes state-wide (41,682) out of a population of nearly 7 million.

It officially, if quietly, became law on Dec. 6, 2012.

But that “victory” may be short-lived. Various legal challenges are likely to be made for the very good reason that basic elements of I-1240 violate the state constitution.

Apparently state law does not require an initiative to be constitutional to be on the ballot, which leaves the challenges to happen after the vote and, obviously, only if the initiative passes.

Supporters may like to say that a win is a win. But is it? What kind of mandate does the charter side have when their grossly funded campaign only managed to scrape together 41,700 more votes than the much less financed No side?

What kind of mandate or support or goodwill does this privatization of public education have when community groups, school boards, democratic organizations, parents and the professionals in the frontlines of our schools — our teachers — universally voted against it?

Moreover, how can a state implement a law that is illegal?

It can’t.

To get a real sense of how deep or genuine is the support for charter schools in Washington State, it’s instructive to review who opposed and who supported this flawed initiative. Here is a sampling:

WHO OPPOSED 1240: WA State PTA, the NAACP, El Centro de la Raza, the League of Women Voters,  Parents Across America, Seattle, Spokane and Tri-Cities chapters, Washington State PTA, the Washington Educations Association, American Federation of Teachers, Washington, Parents and Friends for Tacoma Public Schools, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, Tacoma School Board, Riverview School Board, Renton School Board, Eatonville School Board, Evergreen School Board, Franklin Pierce School Board, Goldendale School Board, Onion Creek School Board, Seattle Public School Board, Seattle Public School superintendent Jose Banda, 1st District Democrats, 5th District Democrats, 10th District Democrats, 11th District Democrats, 21st District Democrats, 22nd District Democrats, 23rd District Democrats, 27th District Democrats, 32nd District Democrats, 33rd District Democrats, 34th District Democrats, 36th District Democrats, 37th District Democrats, 39th District Democrats, 40th District Democrats, 41st District Democrats, 43rd District Democrats, 45th District Democrats, 46th District Democrats, 48th District Democrats, King County Democrats, Pierce County Democrats, Lewis County Democrats, Skagit County Democrats, Mason Country Democrats, Whatcom Country Democrats.

STATEWIDE, TOTAL VOTES AGAINST: 1,484,125 voters in the state of Washington (49.3 percent of the vote)

Also, the city of Seattle, where the state’s largest school district — and the Gates Foundation headquarters — is located voted against I-1240.

WHO SUPPORTED & BANKROLLED IT: Bill Gates, Alice Walton, Eli Broad, Reed Hastings (Netflix, Inc.), Connie Ballmer (Microsoft, Inc.), Paul Allen (Vulcan Inc., Microsoft, Inc.), Nick Hanauer, League of Education Voters*, Stand for Children, Inc.* (See: The Charter-Pushers: Who is bankrolling the $8 million effort (and counting) to bring charters to Washington State?)

*(funded by the Gates Foundation)

STATEWIDE, TOTAL VOTES FOR: 1,525,807 (50.7 percent of the vote)

— Sue p.