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

Here are the responses of both candidates:

OSPI candidate Chris Reykdal’s statement on the recent charter school grant to Washington State

OSPI candidate Erin Jones’ statement on the recent charter school grant to Washington State

For more on Green Dot charter schools, see: