Seattle Education

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The Seattle Office for Education has decided it’s OK to use taxpayer levy dollars for charter schools

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The Families and Education Levy Oversight Committee may need a little oversight themselves.

I decided it would be worthwhile to research further the Families and Education Levy, the oversight committee and the City of Seattle’s Office for Education after uncovering information about who was behind Proposition 1B. That information is described in the post titled The Proposition 1B “Preschool for All” Wheel of Fortune: Same players, new game.

In my most recent research, I came across the following document:

City of Seattle Office for Education
Families and Education Levy
 
Elementary School Innovation
2015-16 School Year
Request for Investment

…and discovered Addendum #1 which states:

Addendum #1 (October 27, 2014): The purpose of this amendment is to clarify that eligible charter schools (specifically First Place Charter School) may apply for Levy funds (Page 1 and Exhibit B on Page 38) and to extend the application deadlines for submission and related dates (Pages 8, 10, 31, 34, and 35).

So now it has been determined by the Seattle Office for Education that Families and Education levy money, which was approved by the voters of Seattle and is taken out of property taxes, can be used to support charter schools. This is setting a precedence for any other charter school whether it be the Greendot charter franchise that is to open in the Rainier Beach area or a KIPP charter preK school in the future to receive our tax dollars. If Acelero gets their way, they will privatize our Head Start programs and then turn around and ask for levy money also. See Seattle PreSchool for All Proposition 1B: Acelero, the fox watching over the hen house.

Is this what we thought our levy dollars would go to?

I think not, particularly because when the charter initiative was voted on, the people of Seattle resoundingly said “No!” to the initiative.

So how did this happen?

That was my question to Isabel Muñoz-Colón, the Program and Policy Advisor for Elementary School Investments in the Office for Education on Monday morning, November 10th.

Her answer was that a request from First Place Charter School had been made to the Office for Education regarding funding and the request was sent on to the City Attorneys’ Office. The Attorney’s Office responded by some means, I wasn’t clear if it was a letter or a memo, that it was OK to provide funding to a charter school per Seattle Ordinance 123567 and the “Implementation Plan”.

I requested a copy of the letter or memo or that it be posted and Ms. Muñoz-Colón responded that she needed to check with someone else to find out how best to provide the information, whether she could send the attorney’s letter to me or post on their website it so that the public could view the determination made by the Seattle City Attorney’s Office.

At the end of the day, on Monday, November 10th, I called Ms. Muñoz-Colón back to see when I could view the communication from the City Attorney.

She responded that they were now treating my request as a FOIA, Freedom of Information Act request, and the Office for Education had five days legally to provide the information, or as Ms. Muñoz-Colón stated, they “were putting together something” for her.

Hmm.

It will be interesting to read their response.

If you read further into the revised document, on page 3, the Seattle Office for Education will require the students to take at least two standardized tests each year. This does not include all of the other testing required by Seattle at this time which is up to 15 hours for 5th graders thanks to the acceptance of the Common Core Standards by our State Legislators. The “Smarter Balanced” test was created for the Common Core Standards. The standards were approved before they had been completed. This is why legislators/politicians (and Bill Gates) should not determine local school policy.

See page 3 of the memo dated October 9, 2014 written by, Michael F. Tolley, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning on the hours that students spend taking standardized tests. This does not include quizzes and tests created by the teacher.

Should our tax dollars be used to support charter schools or to support our children in an equitable environment? When I voted for additional levy dollars, it was with the understanding that the money would go to public schools and into public programs, not into privatized structures where there is no public oversight on how funds are used.

Did you realize that a YES vote for the Families and Education Levy was also an endorsement of charters? You can voice your opinions here: EducationOffice@Seattle.gov or call (206) 233-5118.

For more on charter schools, see What is a Charter School? and Are charter schools public or private? Neither or both?

Dora Taylor

For more on the Greendot charter chain, see:

For more on the KIPP pre-K charter franchise, see:

Race to the Tots: Universal (for profit) Pre-K, DFER, KIPP and the suits

5 comments on “The Seattle Office for Education has decided it’s OK to use taxpayer levy dollars for charter schools

  1. Puget Sound Parent
    December 22, 2014

    Can we sue the Seattle Office for Education?

    • seattleducation2010
      December 22, 2014

      I’m meeting with an attorney tomorrow to see what the next steps will be to obtain the information.

      I don’t want to go to court if at all possible. What I do want is an answer to my question and it’s an answer that we all deserve to have.

      Dora

  2. Charlie Mas
    November 16, 2014

    The charter school initiative did grant charter schools access to levy funds, but only to levy funds approved AFTER the creation of the charter school. The Family and Education Levy was approved BEFORE any charter schools were created.
    It is worth checking the language of the Family and Education levy to see if it restricts the use of levy funds to support public school students. Are private schools like O’Dea eligible for Family and Education levy grants?

  3. Mary
    November 12, 2014

    Dora,

    It should be noted that 1B will have oversight conducted by an “Oversight Committee”. This committee is comprised of 4 mayoral appointments, and the Family and Education Levy Committee. Essentially, there will not be a single elected official that will take full responsibility for the actions of this committee. In essence, voters can not hold a single elected official responsible for the decisions of this committee.

    I think you are correct. I am uncertain of the individual(s) that make determinations for Family and Education Levy funding. I agree, this office needs oversight. It appears that Holly Miller has wayyyy too much control.

    Here is information from a school that requested Family and Education dollars:

    1. The Office for Education (OFE) will notify all respondents in writing of the acceptance or rejection of the response or proposal, and, if appropriate, the level of funding to be allocated. Written notification will be via email to the email address submitted on the cover sheet.
    2. Within two (2) working days from the date of the written notification of OFE’s decision, the respondent may submit a written appeal to the Director of OFE. An appeal must clearly state a rationale based on one or more of the following criteria:
    Violation of policies or guidelines established in this RFQ.
    Failure to adhere to published criteria and/or procedures in carrying out the RFQ process.
    3. The OFE Director (or her designee) will review the written appeal and may request additional oral or written information from the appellant organization. A written decision from the OFE Director (or her designee) will be sent within two (2) working days of the receipt of the appeal. This decision is final.
    Appeals of decisions may be made in writing to Holly Miller, Director, Office for Education, 700 5th Avenue, Ste. 1700, P.O. Box 94649, Seattle, WA 98124-4649, holly.miller@seattle.gov.

  4. Leo
    November 12, 2014

    Dora,

    Thank you for uncovering this information. It should be noted that the following funding streams will fund the city’s prek initiative: $58M voter approved prek funds, $60M Family and Education Levy Dollars and tens of millions of dollars from the federal government.

    There is PLENTY of funding for the city to provide start-up costs to charter school operators. Voters have been duped.

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