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Why Initiative 1240 won’t work for Washington State: The abbreviated version

Last week I posted The inconvenient truth behind Initiative 1240. It was thorough and detailed but doesn’t make for great soundbites so I have created a shorter version to refer to or use as anyone sees fit.

Cut and paste away.

Dora

The only part of a charter school that is a public school, according to this initiative, is the use of tax payer funds.

  • Initiative 1240 circumvents our State Constitution because it would set up an alternative state school system not under the supervision or oversight of the Superintendent of Public Instruction or the local school board.
  • The Washington State PTA voted not to support Initiative 1240 because the initiative did not meet the WSPTA’s “criteria for local oversight.”
  • According to the fiscal impact report of Initiative 1240, the projected implementation costs are estimated to be $3,090,700.

In addition to the $3M, “School districts that choose to become authorizers of charter schools will incur costs to solicit and review applications, contract with charter school boards, monitor and oversee their authorized charter schools, and annually report to the Board.”

When our schools desperately need funding, money should not be wasted on an experiment that has failed in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City to name a few examples

  • The next layer of bureaucracy would be the “Charter School Authorizers” who would be selected by the politically appointed State Board of Education. These “authorizers” would have a six year contract to review and approve applications made to create a charter school.

An authorizer may delegate their responsibilities to a third party, either an employee or a contractor. At that point, an authorizer could be a contractor who benefits from a particular charter franchise being approved. It also removes the process of authorizing charter schools one step further out of the public eye.

  • According to Initiative 1240, “any bargaining unit or units established by the charter school must be separate from other bargaining units in the school districts, educational service districts or institutions of higher education. Each charter school is a separate employer from the school district.”

Teachers and non-teaching staff in a charter school would have no protections that are granted to union employees in public schools in terms of healthcare, working hours, additional responsibilities, the length of the school day and pay. All of that would be at the discretion of the charter school board of directors,

  • In terms of protections granted to students and families in public schools, those protections would be lost. Parents or legal guardians and students would have no immediate legal recourse if they believed that their child had been wrongfully expelled or treated unfairly.

“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”.

  • Initiative 1240 states there should be no limit to class size or the number of students enrolled.

“An authorizer may not restrict the number of students a charter school may enroll.”

  • According to Initiative 1240, a charter school can buy property using taxpayer funds but there is no protection for tax payers if that charter school should close. The property would remain with the charter company or Education/Charter Management Organization EMO/CMO (the profit making arm of a charter school).

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 for the management and operation of the charter school…” A charter school can “Rent, lease, purchase, or own real property.”

  • According to Initiative 1240,  charter schools would be able to run for five years before being reviewed and if the charter school has not met its promises, may only receive a slap on the wrist.

A charter contract may be renewed by the authorizer, at the request of the charter school, for successive five-year terms, although the authorizer may vary the term based on the performance, demonstrated capacities, and particular circumstances of a charter school and may grant renewal with specific conditions for necessary improvements to a charter school.

  • Another profit maker for the charter schools is the section regarding what the charter school receives from the state and how much they pay their staff.

Years of service in a charter school by certificated instructional staff shall be included in the years of service calculation for purposes of the statewide salary allocation schedule under RCW 28A.150.410. 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.

Charter schools decide on their own pay scale for teachers and normally it’s lower than what a unionized teacher would make to keep the operating cost down for the charter school and yet, they want to receive from the state the amount of money that the state would normally pay to a union teacher.

Between being exempt from state statutes and regulations and with no public oversight, you have a private school using tax dollars and even turning a profit because the charter school is a “non-profit” and a non-profit organization does not pay taxes. The profit therefore goes into the salaries of the charter school CEO and the management company that would operate the school.

Sweet deal for the charter schools and management companies, not so good for the tax payer.

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This entry was posted on October 10, 2012 by in Initiative 1240 and tagged .
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