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Which way is it Bill Gates? Initiative 1240 or the CRPE report on charter schools?

“He who pays the piper calls the tune.”

The Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) has been one of Bill Gates’ tools to get what he wants.

In 2003 he donated $119,602 to support the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) research on legal barriers to the creation and success of small schools .

And what did he get for his “investment”? A failed project that he walked away from. See School of the Future: Lessons in failure.

In 2004 he provided CRPE with more funding to research, develop high-quality charter schools in Washington state.  CRPE has been churning out just what Bill Gates wants, more reports to his liking.

Melissa Westbrook over at Seattle Schools Community Forum took a look at the study and found conflicting information between charter school Initiative 1240 which Bill Gates paid $1M to get on the ballot in November and the CRPE report that he paid for.

Oops.

To follow is Melissa’s post on the conflict of “data” and information.

UW’s CRPE Dumbfounds with Lessons on Charter Law

Over at UW’s Center for Reinventing Public Education, they wrote a one pager about “lessons for Washington State” on getting high-quality charter schools.  I have to laugh as I wonder if they even read I-1240.

Highlights:

• Strong authorizing is key to quality

o Districts cannot be only authorizer, but authorizers need to build competency

o Weak or negligent authorizing leads to many low-performing schools

– Promote authorizer clarity/accountability in law, implementation

So the CRPE must be against I-1240 because:

– the Charter Commission does NOT have to be pre-authorized in the same way School Boards do.  It seems odd that an elected board would have to go through a process that the members of the Charter Commission don’t.  (This isn’t explained in the initiative.)

– also, CRPE doesn’t like “weak or negligent” authorizing?  Well, unfortunately, the Charter Commission has no oversight, elected or otherwise AND there’s no way to remove low-performing members.  So much for strong authorizing (and accountability).

You cannot get good schools without paying for them

o Provide for equal access to resources (state, local, federal funds) and facilities access or funding – Predictability, flow of funding are as important as amounts

Well there’s a knee-slapper.  Yes, we do need to pay more for our schools and yet we’re not discussing that.  We’re discussing how to divide up the funding to be in even smaller amounts with charters.

And “predictability” of funding?  I think charter schools will be quite surprised how many people will not be voting for levies if charters come in.  That Seattle has to run a levy every three years for 23% of its operating budget is not “predictable”.   Lose that and see how many fewer dollars will flow to charters.

• Provide strong autonomy and accountability

o Do not bother to create more schools with limited autonomy (charter lite)

o But balance that freedom with no-nonsense accountability (i.e., closures)

Again, they must not like I-1240 because it has vague accountability.

•  Clear language,oversight, and financial incentives are best guarantees for equal student access    to  charters

o Special education and other pots of funds should follow kids

o Avoid quotas or other rigid input requirements

I don’t know what they mean by “financial incentives” for charter schools to guarantee equal student access.

Well that’s odd.  CRPE well knows that Special Ed money is federal money and DOES follow the student.  But the problem is that charters don’t like to have to set up programs for those kids and they counsel them out in high numbers.

Interesting about the quotas and “input requirements” because that’s not what public schools do except for magnet programs.  Hmmm, why would you have to say this if charters are public schools?

But the two biggest whoppers on this list?

• Do not expect to get it right the first time

• Do not expect the law to take care of quality

I thought we went through all this figuring out in the OTHER 40 states and their experience.  I thought this was best charter law ever written.  And now, the experts at the Center for Reinventing Education are saying probably not?

Not too reassuring.

And it’s not possible to write a law tight enough to have solid expectations of quality, like making sure that we get the most high-performing charters?

Again, not too reassuring.

Why do we want charters again?

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