Thursday, September 10, 2015

A perfect education storm in Washington state - The Washington Post

A perfect education storm in Washington state - The Washington Post:

A perfect education storm in Washington state

Washington state is in the center of a perfect storm over education.
Seattle public school teachers are on strike over issues including evaluations, pay and the length of the school day. The strike, called by the 5,000-member teachers’ union, started on Wednesday, Sept. 9, the day the 2015-16 school year was supposed to start.
The state legislature is racking up fines of $100,000 a day since the Washington State Supreme Court ruled on Aug. 13, 2015, that lawmakers have not been adequately funding public schools. Lawmakers were ordered in 2012 to fully fund education but have failed to do so, and the justices got tired of it, ordering up the hefty fines.  As the The Seattle Times reported:
Despite a record-setting 176-day session and a two-year budget agreement that pushed substantial new money into the K-12 system, the court said lawmakers had again failed to live up to what the state constitution calls the state’s “paramount” duty — amply funding schools.
And there is the court’s ruling on Sept. 4, 2015, declaring the state’s charter school law unconstitutional. The law was passed by voters in 2012 — after three earlier attempts failed — with the help of significant financial support from wealthy philanthropists, including Bill Gates. The Supreme Court justices decided that state education funding could not be used for charter schools because charter schools are not operated by elected boards and, therefore, not “common schools.”
Here is a post on what is going on in Washington state by Wayne Au, an associate professor at the University of Washington Bothell and an editor for the social justice education magazine, Rethinking Schools. He was also a  plaintiff in the charter school legal challenge, along with organizations including the Washington Education Association and the League of Women Voters.

By Wayne Au
Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, was a good day for me. Late that afternoon the Washington State Supreme Court issued an earth-shattering ruling for corporate education reformers: By a 6-3 decision, they determined that Washington State’s charter school law was unconstitutional. This felt like a personal victory because I was heavily involved in the fight against charter schools in Washington State. In the lead up to the 2012 election season, where Washington voters would decide on the legality of charter schools here through popular vote on Initiative 1240 (I-1240), I was a very vocal opponent of the initiative and voiced my concerns about charter schools in newspaper editorialspolicy analyseseducational research, and public forums.
Washington State citizens narrowly passed I-1240 by a 50.69 percent majority vote (winning by roughly 41,000 of the over 3,000,000 votes cast), making charter schools law here. In response to the new charter law, I was asked to join a group of individuals and organizations as plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of I-1240, where, in addition to lending my name to the suit, I provided expert advice and research in support of the legal arguments.
When the Washington State Supreme Court announced its decision overturning I-1240 as unconstitutional, I was elated. As an educational scholar-activist trying to defend public education from the forces of privatization, rarely have I felt like my personal efforts have contributed so concretely to such an important victory.
At the heart of the Washington State’s Supreme Court ruling was the idea that charter schools, as defined by the law, were not actually “public schools.” The key issue is this: Washington State’s constitution has a provision that only A perfect education storm in Washington state - The Washington Post: