This is a one item agenda, grading schools, then transforming the schools with the lowest test scores into charter schools or closing them and providing the option of…a charter school or a public school outside of the student’s neighborhood. If you don’t understand the devastation that starts with high stakes testing and ends with school closings, check out the recent weekly update, The Weekly Update: Eli Broad’s how-to guide on closing schools and disaster capitalism up close and personal.

Stand for Children, with their bought and paid for representative State Senator Steve Litzow, and the League of Education Voters have pushed through two bills in the Washington State Senate and they are now headed for the State house.

Senate Bill 5328 grades schools based on student test scores.

Senate Bill 5329 then proposes to take the schools with the lowest test scores and “transform” them based on the Race to the Top turnaround model that is not fully described in the bill that was sponsored by Litzow.

This is the “transformation” model that is referred to in the bill but not clearly stated by Litzow; from the Department of Education’s website:

      • Turnaround model: Replace the principal and rehire no more than 50% of the staff, and grant the principal sufficient operational flexibility (including in staffing, calendars/time and budgeting) to fully implement a comprehensive approach to substantially improve student outcomes.
      • Restart model: Convert a school or close and reopen it under a charter school operator, a charter management organization, or an education management organization that has been selected through a rigorous review process.
      • School closure: Close a school and enroll the students who attended that school in other schools in the district that are higher achieving.
      • Transformation model: Implement each of the following strategies: (1) replace the principal and take steps to increase teacher and school leader effectiveness; (2) institute comprehensive instructional reforms; (3) increase learning time and create community-oriented schools; and (4) provide operational flexibility and sustained support.

That’s what Litzow & Co. want for our students. Litzow lives on Mercer Island with many of the 1% and will never see a “transformation model” in his neighborhood, but as we have seen time and time again, what’s best for the rest of us doesn’t work for the leaders and shills of the ed reform movement.

It doesn’t work for anyone else either as we have seen this idea unfold around the country with horrific results.

Please call you representative, e-mail them or meet them in person and let them know what you think of these bills.

There are Town Halls coming up this weekend and that would also be a great time to have a few words with your representative.

By the way, these bill cost money and even though Litzow’s paramount duty is to ensure adequate funding for our schools, he is instead pushing bills with untold costs if you consider the expense of the transformation model.

There is a petition online to remind representatives like Senators Tom and Liztow that they were elected with the understanding that they would represent the rest of us, not just the wealthy few.

Dora Taylor