Now, here is an amazing bit of prescience.

Parents Across America, the group formed by parents to support public schools, wrote a letter to the state superintendent in 2013 explaining why charters in Washington State are unconstitutional.

Initiative 1240 is unconstitutional, they argued, for the following reasons:

We therefore urge the Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to pursue a legal challenge to I-1240, based on the following grounds:

1. I-1240 would establish a charter school commission comprised of politically appointed members with no election by, or accountability to, the general public. It would allocate authorization and accountability for charter schools to this commission, circumventing state-mandated oversight of our public schools by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and local school boards. (Yet this commission would cost taxpayers an estimated $3 million.)The creation of such a commission would be in violation of state law which requires public oversight of all public schools. (See: Article III, Section 22, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Duties and Salary.“The superintendent of public instruction shall have supervision over all matters pertaining to public schools, and shall perform such specific duties as may be prescribed by law.”)

2. Charter schools would not meet the definition of “common schools.” Since 1909, a “common school” has been defined as “one that is common to all children of proper age and capacity, free, and subject to, and under the control of, the qualified voters, of a school district.” Sch. Dist. No. 20, Spokane County v. Bryan, 51 Wn. 498, 99 P. 28 (1909). The state constitution also mandates a “general and uniform system of public schools.” Instead, Initiative 1240 would create an unequal subset of schools that would be granted exclusive rights and resources not accorded all schools and all children. These schools would be exempt from public oversight, violating state law that requires all public schools to be “common schools” and part of a “uniform system.” Subsequently, if charter schools are not “common,” then they do not qualify for state funding as stipulated in Article IX, Section 2, which states: “the entire revenue derived from the common school fund and the state tax for common schools shall be exclusively applied to the support of the common schools.”

3. Initiative 1240 also violates state law as recognized by the McCleary decision of January 5, 2012 (McCleary v. State of Washington), which maintains that the state has a constitutionally mandated (Article IX, section 1) “paramount duty” to fully fund all of its public schools. I-1240 would divert funding from common schools to specific schools with unique rights, creating inequity, and further diluting already inadequate resources from our public (“common”) schools, which is in violation of this law.

On Friday, the Washington Supreme Court (the highest court in the state) ruled that charters are unconstitutional and the Court’s reasoning echoes the points made two years ago by PAA.

Well done, Parents!

This ruling gives hope to parents all across America, who see charter schools draining funding from their public schools, favoring the privileges of the few over the rights of the many.

Sorry, hedge fund managers!

Here is the decision. Read it for yourself.

This is a big win for parents and public schools.

Mercedes Schneider obtained a copy of the Supreme Court decision in Washington State that found public funding of charters to be unconstitutional.

She analyzes it here.

Washington State’s Supreme Court ruled that charter schools are unconstitutional.

“After nearly a year of deliberation, the state Supreme Court ruled 6-3 late Friday afternoon that charter schools are unconstitutional.

“The ruling overturns the law voters narrowly approved in 2012 allowing publicly funded, but privately operated, schools.

“Eight new charter schools are opening in Washington this fall in addition to one that opened in Seattle last year…

“Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote that charter schools aren’t “common schools” because they’re governed by appointed rather than elected boards.

“Therefore “money that is dedicated to common schools is unconstitutionally diverted to charter schools,” Madsen wrote.

“The ruling is a victory for the coalition that filed the suit in July 2013, asking a judge to declare the law unconstitutional for “improperly diverting public-school funds to private organizations that are not subject to local voter control.”

The Background:

The state held four referenda on charters. Voters rejected them three times–in 1996, 2000, and 2004–but in 2012, Bill Gates , Paul Allen, Alice Walton, the Bezos family, and a handful of other billionaires created a fund of more than $10 million (correction by reader: $17 million) to support another charter vote, called I-1240. The billionaires outspent the opposition in the election by 50:1. The measure barely passed by a margin of 1%. Stand for Children stood with the billionaires.

Opponents included:

“The League of Women Voters of Washington opposed the measure, as did the Washington Education Association and the Washington Association of School Administrators. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has been opposed to all charter schools since 2010, and, although the National Parent Teacher Association conditionally supports charter schools, the Washington State PTA opposed I-1240 for not meeting “criteria for local oversight.” A variety of Democratic organizations and officials opposed I-1240.”

A report from Long Island, the epicenter of the parent-led opt out movement:

Governor Cuomo probably thought he would please some parents by expressing his dismay with the implementation of the Common Core and blaming it on the State Education Department (John King), but no one seems satisfied that yet another commission he appoints will map the next moves.

Blogger Perdido Street School reports that 45 percent of the teacher ratings for the public schools of Buffalo, New York, were inaccurate. The ratings were outsourced to a company in Utah that acknowledged its errors. Its miscalculations resulted in 1,089 teachers receiving lower ratings than they should have.

The blogger quotes the story in the Buffalo News:

Lower-than-correct scores were given to educators who teach more than one grade level or subject and are required to meet multiple sets of student learning objectives. The company had rewritten its scoring calculations over the summer to enable it to produce scores more rapidly, Rosenthal said. But in doing so, it inadvertently created the calculation error for this group of teachers.

The district’s data chief, Genelle Morris, said a teacher brought the error to the district’s attention. According to the teacher’s manual calculations, she had met her performance targets, but that was not reflected in the online calculations produced by Truenorthlogic. The district checked her calculations and ran them internally through the district’s Information Technology Department and found it could not replicate Truenorthlogic’s scores.

The company soon uncovered the source of the error and the corrected results were posted online for teachers to view late Thursday morning.

Perdido Street adds this observation about the Governor who insisted on creating the evaluation system (APPR) and who insists it is “scientific” and “objective”:

It will be fun to see Cuomo twist himself into a pretzel to defend APPR even as the Common Core/Endless Testing edifice comes down around him.

Make no mistake – he will do just that.

APPR is his baby – his donors wanted it, he pushed for it, when pushback came, he fought to impose it on the state through the budget.

He will not want to admit it is as flawed and error-riddled as the Common Core implementation (which he can blame on NYSED), the Common Core tests (which he can blame on Pearson) or the Common Core curriculum (which he can blame on NYSED.)

When it comes to APPR, he has no one to blame but himself.

Daniel S. Katz, who is a professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, has created a helpful overview of the education mess in New York. You can’t tell the players without a scorecard, and Katz has written a useful scorecard of events and players.

How did  Governor Cuomo take charge of education when he has no constitutional authority to do so?

Why did new State Commissioner MaryEllen Elia make threats to parents who opted out, then back down?

Will the state figure out how to quell the parent opt out rebellion?

What is the Governor’s latest gambit?

Why is the Governor creating a new Common Core commission when he had a Common Core commission just a year or so ago and packed it with Common Core supporters?

Why do politicians keep meddling in education when they don’t know what they are doing?

The players keep changing and changing their minds. Stay tuned.

The following statement was released by the New York State Allies for Public Education:

http://www.nysape.org/nysape-press-release—parents-respond-to-cuomo-tisch-elia.html

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 4, 2015

More information contact:
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; nys.allies@gmail.com

NYS Allies for Public Education http://www.nysape.org

The Message of 220,000 Opt-Outs Has Not Been Heard: Elia Calls Opt-Out Parents “Unreasonable” and Cuomo Continues Trampling on the NYS Constitution

For over three years parents across New York have called on Albany to substantially change the direction of education reforms built on the flawed Common Core, its intertwined high-stakes testing and fundamentally broken teacher evaluation system.
Despite outrage with the appointment of an education commissioner without a public process, parents initially withheld their concerns with MaryEllen Elia and the reports of her support for Common Core reforms coupled with a heavy-handed, non-collaborative approach that factored in her firing in Florida.

Just a few short weeks into her appointment in New York however, Elia has proven parent skeptics right. She has adopted the “tough-talk” tactics of Andrew Cuomo and Merryl Tisch, apparently as cover for a governor and chancellor who have dramatically softened their education rhetoric to the public. Elia has labeled opt out parents as ‘unreasonable’, opt out supporting educators ‘unethical’ and threatened funding cuts if opt outs are not stopped.

In a press release yesterday expressing “sympathy” for parents, Cuomo called for a review of the Common Core in New York, blaming the State Education Department’s implementation while vowing to revive his Common Core panel to review the mess.

Parents across the state are not fools.

They know the problems are hardly limited to implementation of the Common Core, but the actual Common Core itself, its excessive testing, and a fundamentally broken teacher evaluation system.
Parents know that Andrew Cuomo is not part of the solution. Cuomo is the problem.

It is Cuomo who forced his unproven teacher evaluation system down parents’ throats.

It is Cuomo who slashed and underfunded the State Education Department staffing.

It is Cuomo who accepted ‘Big Donor’ campaign money and enabled the build-up of a privatized, unaccountable shadow government within the State Education Department –The Regents Research Fellows—who created the “Implementation” mess Cuomo now blames.

It is Cuomo who repeatedly tramples on the New York State Constitution–which gives a NY Governor NO authority over education policy—with his serial habit of forming pro-corporate education reform stacked panels, complete with Washington lobbyists salivating to eliminate parental consent for data profiling of children.

Parents of New York are outraged and will continue the fight to take back their schools and classrooms from the Albany shenanigans of Andrew Cuomo, Merryl Tisch and MaryEllen Elia.

“In New York, Governor Cuomo and Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, teamed up for the past five years to turn theory and promise of the Common Core into a living nightmare for our children and their teachers. Parents see through the ploys and will not back down. We will continue to refuse to participate in the Common Core tests that are destroying our schools and our children’s education. Governor Cuomo’s role in this mess will not be ignored.” – Jeannette Deutermann, Long Island public school parent and Long Island Opt Out founder.

“The spirit of our children is being broken. When will Albany start really paying attention and make the changes that parents are asking? We want our classrooms back, we want our teachers to teach, and we want a well-rounded curriculum for all our children. More test prep or testing is not the answer to closing the achievement gap.” –Charmaine Dixon, Brooklyn public school parent and NYC Opt Out member.

“Parents will not stop fighting for their kids. Tests MUST be decoupled from teacher evaluations, state tests MUST be reduced, and student data MUST NOT be shared without parental consent.” –Eric Mihelbergel, Western NY public school parent and NYSAPE founding member.

“The corrupt influence of ‘Big Money’ and ‘Big Data’ Collection in New York has ushered in the most destructive education laws and policies in the nation based on model American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) legislation and “pushed” by the privatized Regent Research Fellows think tank. Parents very clearly see how profit motives are driving the loss of local control in their children’s classroom…and they reject it.” -Lisa Rudley, Westchester public school parent and NYSAPE founding member.

“The results of the recent annual PDK/Gallup education poll are telling. An overwhelming majority (64%) of Americans say there is too much emphasis on testing in schools and a majority of public school parents oppose the Common Core. How much longer will parents in New York tolerate what Albany is doing to their children’s classrooms? The next election cycle will be very telling,” said Jessica McNair, Central NY public school parent, educator, and CNY Opt Out founder.

NYSAPE, a grassroots organization with over 50 parent and educator groups across the state are calling on parents to continue to opt out by refusing high-stakes testing starting on the first days of school. Go to http://www.nysape.org/resources.html for more details on the how to be part of the Great Opt Out of this decade.

###

A teacher sent this commentary about the disgraceful neglect of public education in Néw Mexico:

“I cannot understand why our governor, Susanna Martinez, was re-elected…. Certainly, her education policies have been disastrous. This administration has no respect for teachers and no understanding of education and other related issues.

“We’ve been treated to a great number of photo ops in which the governor drops in to a school and poses with a book in her hand in front of a group of children and then drops out again. I’m not aware that she has ever made any effort to understand the issues the schools in the various parts of New Mexico face. In fact, she and her Secretary of Education, Hannah Skandera, seem to be quite uninterested in anything teachers might have to say. After four years in office, Ms. Skandera, was finally pushed through and confirmed as secretary of education, even though she has no background in education. The state constitution requires that candidates for this position have a degree in education and experience as a teacher and administrator. The legislative members who voted to confirm her willfully ignored our own constitution when they confirmed her. Ms. Skandera was a protégé of Jeb Bush and is bent on implementing failed Florida policies.
Even though the state is supposedly spending more money than ever on education, our schools are seeing less and less of it. Apparently, a lot of money is going to “below the line” funding that the governor uses as a slush fund to promote such things as teacher merit pay. In the last nine+ years, teachers have averaged less than a half percent annual raise. Future raises look doubtful as long as this governor is in office.

“This team implemented by “rule” (they could not get it through the legislature) Skandera’s teacher evaluation system, in which a minimum of fifty percent of the evaluation is based on student standardized test scores. The testing this year will provide the third year of data. Will teachers begin to lose their jobs because of test scores? I am the testing coordinator in my school and after the first round of testing, personally witnessed students who mechanically pushed keys on the computer and did not bother to even read the questions this past spring. The computers in my school library were used for testing. It was closed from mid-March until the last day of school to accommodate PARCC, end of year tests and EOC’s.

“It’s no surprise that the largest district in the state started school with three hundred teacher vacancies.
I blame the people of this state for re-electing these people. Granted, the candidate who ran against Ms. Martinez could not compete against all the out of state money that flowed in to her re-election coffers. However, if people had examined the candidates and their policy platforms, perhaps the outcome would have been different. I think the most discouraging statement I heard after the election was that the governor’s opponent wasn’t “charismatic” enough. Until the people of this state (and this nation) wise up and cast their vote based on the candidate’s policy instead of their personality, we will not end up with the government that is the best for common people.”

In case you read the original post, I deleted the second sentence because it had a grammatical error.

Mike Lillis, president of the Lakeland County Federation of Teachers, tells his members that education is at a “tipping point.”

“In my opening remarks last year, I painted a picture of education reform on the run, with evidence such as Inbloom shuttering its doors, 65,000 students refusing the state tests, and polls showing increased opposition from parents as well as educators to the Common Core standards and high-stakes tests.

“Well…a lot has happened since then. To borrow from Charles Dickens, who would have a great deal to say about our treatment of children today, in many ways what we are seeing now is the tale of two education systems; it is the best of times and the worst of times.

“Since I like to rip band aids off quickly, let’s talk about the worst of times first. Despite the fact that high-stakes tests took a beating last year, their use in teacher evaluation being discredited by the American Statistical Association, American Education Research Association, National Academy of Education, as well as parents and educators, this April the Legislature and Governor doubled-down by rewriting the law on teacher evaluation and dramatically increasing the role that tests will take on.

“Here is why I believe it is also the best of times. Within a couple of weeks of our legislative rout, the parents of over 220,000 students said, “enough is enough” and refused to have their children take the state tests. This level of direct parent participation is unlike anything we have seen before in New York and no, it is not because the “union told them to.”

“This is a grassroots movement of parents that have tried every other means they have to protect the integrity of their child’s education.

“There are not 220,000 parents in New York that wake up daily and try to figure out which act of civil disobedience is best for them that day. This is a movement that will grow until sanity is restored to our classrooms. They have built a lever, and it will continue to grow until it is successful.”

He notes that Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said teachers were”unethical” if they encouraged opt outs.

Lillis said:

“Since the Commissioner would like to discuss ethics, I would like to contribute some of my own thoughts about State Education Department policies and hopefully begin a debate about whether or not they are ethical or even moral.

“I do not believe that it is ethical to correlate proficiency on grade 3-8 math and ELA assessments to a score of 1630 on the SAT, a score that only 34% of college bound students achieve nationally.

“I do not believe it is ethical to label students. More importantly, I do not believe it is ethical for the state of New York to label students “College and Career Ready” based on a single annual test.

“I do not believe it is ethical to take students that remain on target to getting a 1500 on the SAT and labeling them not ready for college or a career, in third grade, fourth grade, fifth grade, and on and on through high school. I believe this is state-sponsored abuse.

“I do not believe it is ethical to use a formula to evaluate the state’s 3-8th grade teachers that guarantees 7% of them will be ineffective before a single student takes the tests.

“I do not believe it is ethical to put a test ( a test I remind you that statistically is designed to have only the top 34% college bound students nationally pass it) and have students know that their performance will have a very real impact on the career of someone they love—their teacher.”

Lillis concluded: we are a tipping point. Which way will we tip?

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