Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Charters add to the "mess" . . .

I was not going to blog about the possible charter lawsuit again, but I first learned yesterday in a Washington Policy Center Post by Liv Finne that State Superintendent Dorn will not be filing a lawsuit to stop charter implementation.  He will instead be asking the legislature to amend I-1240 to allow for oversight by OSPI instead of by an independent commission.  The article at Washington State Wire referenced in the post suggests that this is a conciliatory step that Dorn is taking.  Given his often stated position on the unconstitutionality of the initiative, if the amended legislation is not forthcoming a lawsuit will most likely follow.

“Let me be clear,” he writes. “I am not arguing for or against charter schools, but simply raising the question of the initiative’s constitutionality. I-1240, however, creates a governance structure for charter schools which I believe violates our state’s constitution, and is not accountable to the people.”

The Seattle Times weighed in on the issue in one of today's editorials telling WEA that they should not move forward with a lawsuit.  They speculate in the piece on why the Association is choosing to focus on this issue at this time.

So why is the WEA lawyering up now? The union could be flexing its muscle in advance of the upcoming legislative session’s showdown over education reforms and funding. Or it believes voters would not mind having their will overturned.

I don't know that either of these is the driver for the possible suit.  They could share Dorn's view that it is unconstitutional.  I believe that his decision to seek a change to oversight is a blow to WEA's search for partners and will make it more difficult for them to move forward.  All of this simply adds to the intrigue or perhaps I should say "mess" that legislators will face when the session begins Monday.  Issues with majority/minority control in the Senate, threats over charters, desire by reformers to initiate additional changes, and the supreme court's stated position on funding will put education right in the middle of what will be a difficult session.

I fear that in the political environment this creates, compromise will emerge toward the end of the session that none of us can predict today and that will once again impact our Classroom 10 journey.  It would take place behind closed doors with no public input, similarly to what happened when we lost the opportunity for our instructional model to guide teacher evaluation in last year's last minute action.  This will be a long session and one that we in public education will want to monitor closely as the decisions that are made will have significant impact in the short and long term on our work.

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