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Our question to OSPI candidates Erin Jones and Chris Reykdal about the recent charter school grant to Washington State

gravy train

While another lawsuit is pending in Washington State challenging the constitutionality of the Charter School law, the Washington State Charter School Commission and State Superintendent Randy Dorn fell all over themselves to get a piece of the US Department of Education’s (USDOE)  $245M pie for “high quality” charter schools.

This is so generous of the Obama administration considering our public schools are broke and in disrepair with public schools needing nurses, librarians, books, adequate resources so that teachers don’t have to pay for supplies out of their own pockets, up to date IT systems and enough school buildings and teachers to provide adequate classroom space for our growing population.

As my dad would say, “that’s real white of you” USDOE.

Even though charter schools are a multi-billion dollar business with little to no public oversight and where scandals abound, the USDOE, swayed by billionaires like Bill Gates and Eli Broad, have decided to be generous with our tax dollars.

In Washington State, look no further than the Green Dot charter chain that has opened a school in Tacoma to see what’s considered “high quality”. See: Green Dot charter schools and freedom of speech and Green Dot charter schools: A cautionary TaleAnother charter school that opened in Seattle with a promise to open a second school in West Seattle, Sierra Summit charter school, promotes “blended learning” which means putting students in front of computers most of the school day.

Looking for “high quality” charter schools in the US will be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

As I wrote in an article for the Progressive: 

This is exactly what voters in Washington State were concerned with over a decade ago, and still are fighting against.  Washington citizens watched the march toward privatization of a public education in New Orleans, Chicago, and Detroit, and never wanted charter schools in their state.

They have seen how in California, for example, “despite the tremendous investment of public dollars and the size of its charter school population, the state has failed to implement a system that proactively monitors charters for fraud, waste, and mismanagement.” There is the problem of co-location of charter schools within public schools throughout the United States, resulting in public schools losing more and more classroom space each year along with their cafeterias, auditoriums, gyms, and libraries to charter schools that are not paying rent.

There is the also the resegregation of students created with charter schools as described recently by the NAACP, a high suspension rate of black students in charter schools and students with disabilities, the fraudulent use of funds by the charter school operators, theinstability of charter schools leaving students and communities at a loss when charter schools unexpectedly close, and the use of unqualified and inexperienced teachers in charter schools to keep their costs down.

Randy Dorn is ending his career on a low note as the State Superintendent of public schools in Washington State but no doubt he will have a golden parachute based on the actions he has taken. There is a race now between candidates Erin Jones and Chris Reykdal to see who will be the next State Superintendent.

We will be asking both candidates the following question about the $6,973,684 grant to be received by Washington State:

“Given the legal uncertainty of charter schools in our state, as head of the OSPI, would you distribute the Federal money to the existing charter schools and provide funding to set up new charter schools?”

The question will be sent out this evening to both candidates and we are requesting a response in one week.

Carolyn Leith

Dora Taylor

For more on Green Dot charter schools, see:


5 comments on “Our question to OSPI candidates Erin Jones and Chris Reykdal about the recent charter school grant to Washington State

  1. Sam
    October 4, 2016

    Here is another good question: If the court determines SB 6194 to be unconstitutional, will you work to provide funding to charter schools? It is worth noting that Dorn worked to fund charter schools via ALE.

  2. seattleducation2010
    October 4, 2016

    From a parent who sent me the following in an email -Dora:

    Thanks for doing this.

    I’ve had the unique privilege of meeting both OSPI candidates in small Q and A sessions in private homes. Erin Jones met with a group I attended during her run in the primary election, and then Chris Reykdal met with a small group of us last week. Considering the qualification needed to manage OSPI I have decided to back the candidate that I think has the most experience and skills needed to manage the job.

    What are the skills needed? Let’s look at the job:

    OSPI has 400 employees that manage a budget that is 47% of the State’s general fund. This budget is over $10 billion in allotted funds to districts, and over $25 million in operating funds for the organizations.

    It is an elected position that requires campaigning and experience serving the electorate.

    Experience in the classroom is of high importance.

    Management of large departments that require hiring and firing, managing the budgets and oversight.

    Of high importance to me is who will best stand up against charter schools and the privatization efforts of a few well funded organizations.

    With all of these qualifications I will support Chris Reykdal.

    Chris taught history in high school.

    He has his Masters in Public Administration with an emphasis in Government fiscal management.

    He has been Director at several levels of State agencies.

    He is a Representative in the 22nd Legislative district which is an elected position.

    As to charter schools, Chris has publicly stood up to oppose them.Of the candidates he is the strongest opponent to charter schools.

    Erin Jones has a passion for education that is so appreciated. I’ve heard her story. She has highly respected amount of student contact.

    The Highline School district houses Rainier Prep, a charter school. Erin came to Highline to testify in favor of placing this charter in my district. This support has not helped us trying to fight charter schools in our district. Her mission statement does not state clear opposition to charter schools. She has also accepted money from citizens that have ties to pro charter school/ed reform groups. These include Kelly Munn from the LEV, Sean Waldhiem which lists his employment as TFA, and Tim Burgess from the Seattle City council.

    Here are the posted qualifications of both candidates. You can read for yourself.


    I feel Chris Reykdal has the best education, experience, and background for the OSPI position. Please join me in supporting Chris Reykdal for OSPI .

  3. Sam
    October 2, 2016

    It was Dorn’s office that applied for the grant.

    Here is another question: As SPI, would you have the office of OSPI submit grant applications to support the expansion of charter schools?

  4. Sam
    October 2, 2016

    Sounds like Ms. Jones likes a hybrid of public and charter schools.

    Here is what Jones had to say:

    “I do not believe charter schools are THE answer to closing the opportunity gap. I was concerned that in this season of incredible gaps in funding, we should not be having conversations about funding another system. I have said I believe all schools should answer to the public. With that being said, we can’t just say “HELL, NO” to charter schools without a willingness to address the ever-growing achievement/opportunity gap and the school-to-prison pipeline, which are ravaging communities of color in Washington state.”

  5. david fisher
    October 2, 2016

    thank you both

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