Topic: Initiative 1240
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July 3, 2013 at 1:45 PM
A coalition headlined by Washington’s teachers union has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a recently-approved state initiative establishing charter schools, the group announced Wednesday.
The 31-page lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court earlier in the day, seeks to stop the establishment of charter schools.
A state commission established under the initiative is currently laying the groundwork for the schools, which are free and public but independent of school districts and allowed to use different techniques.
The lawsuit argues that the initiative violates the state constitution in seven ways, including that it improperly delegates education duties to private organizations, interferes with progress toward complying with a state Supreme Court order for the state to spend more on education, diverts funds to schools not under local voter control and takes power away from the state superintendent of public instruction.
“The Charter School Act poses a real threat to our public school system in Washington,” said one of the plaintiffs, education advocate Wayne Au, in a news release. “Not only does it divert already deficient state funds from public schools to private organizations, it also exempts those private organizations from many of the standards that are in place to ensure that all children receive an adequate education.”
The lawsuit had been expected. The coalition filed a legal challenge to the state attorney general over the initiative in February.
Initiative 1240 received 50.7 percent support from state voters last November.
March 6, 2013 at 10:50 AM
Officials announced the nine members of the state’s new charter-school commission on Wednesday, taking the next step in setting up a structure for the just-approved independent, but public schools.
The members, three each appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and state House speaker, will manage and oversee the state’s first 40 charters, which were approved in November. The members will serve four-year terms.
They are: Doreen Cato of Ocean Shores, Chris Martin of Spokane, Steve Sundquist of Seattle, Kevin Jacka of Springdale, Cindi Williams of Bellevue, Larry Wright of Sammamish, Trish Millines Dziko of Vashon, Dr. Margrit McGuire of Seattle and Dave Quall of Mount Vernon.
To Seattle residents, the most recognizable name will be Sundquist, a Seattle School Board president who lost a tight re-election race to Marty McLaren in 2011.
The others bring a variety of experiences:
Cato is the executive director of the United Way of Grays Harbor; Martin runs the gifted learning program Prodigy Northwest; Jacka is superintendent of the Mary Walker School District in northeast Washington; Williams has worked for the U.S. Department of Education and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Wright is managing director of the Bellevue Arts Museum; Dziko is founder of the science education-focused Technology Access Foundation; McGuire is director of teacher education at Seattle University; and Quall is a former Democratic chairman of the state House Education Committee.
January 8, 2013 at 4:55 PM
Randy Dorn, Washington State’s top schools official, is asking state legislative leaders to amend the state’s new charter school law so that his office supervises the new schools.
Dorn has repeatedly said he thinks the law, which voters passed in November, violates Washington’s constitution because it calls for the creation of a new, appointed charter school commission that would authorize and supervise charter schools.
Dorn, the state’s elected Superintendent of Public Instruction, says the constitution makes him responsible for supervising all public schools, including charters. Dorn has said repeatedly that he may challenge the new law in court as well as ask legislators to change the way charters will be governed.
In his letter to lawmakers, Dorn said he said he is not arguing for or against charters, just who oversees them.
The new law, which allows up to 40 charters to open in Washington state, gives school boards the chance to authorize charters, too, but also sets up the new commission. In his letter, Dorn said charter schools that are approved and overseen by the commission would not be directly accountable to the public.
“The Commission is the state level administrator, while the Charter School Boards provide local administration,” he wrote. “These unelected bodies will have the power to spend the peoples’ money without being accountable to the people.”
Because the initiative was passed just this fall, two-thirds of legislators in the House and the Senate would need to approve any changes.
December 3, 2012 at 5:00 AM
Washington’s charter-schools proposal was the closest among the statewide initiatives this year, passing with just 50.7 percent of the vote.
Initiative 1240 proved divisive locally, too, a Seattle Times analysis of precinct vote returns shows. I-1240 was opposed by a majority — 51.6 percent — of King County voters, while most Snohomish and Pierce County voters were supportive.
Most Seattle neighborhoods strongly opposed the charter plan, with big no votes in the liberal core neighborhoods, including Capitol Hill, Ballard, Fremont and Wallingford. But even in the city, there were pockets of support in parts of Magnolia, Queen Anne, downtown and South Lake Union.
Some of the strongest support for the initiative came from Eastside cities, including Bellevue, Kirkland and Sammamish. But also strongly in favor were swaths of south King County, including Kent, Federal Way and Auburn.
Overall, I-1240 passed in 18 of the state’s 39 counties.
November 9, 2012 at 7:55 PM
Initiative 1240, the statewide measure to approve charter schools, was still too close to call Friday night.
It was leading 50.8 to 49.2 percent, down a little from Thursday, when it had a full two-point lead
The measure continued to trail in King County, with 51.5 percent of voters against, but was still ahead in Snohomish and Pierce counties.
Supporters said they don’t see how the measure could fail, but they have yet to declare victory, and opponents have not conceded.
October 30, 2012 at 12:13 PM
As the election nears, the campaign to bring charter schools to Washington state reported another $1.5 million in donations from Paul Allen, founder of Vulcan, Inc. and co-founder of Microsoft. Allen has been a major supporter of past charter-school campaigns, too, along with his fellow Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
With $1.6 million in total in donations, Allen is now the third largest contributor to the Yes on 1240 campaign, behind Gates and Walmart heiress Alice Walton.
The second-largest contribution to the pro-charter group in the past week was $100,000 from Kemper Holdings, owned by Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman.
The total for the pro-charter campaign has now reached $10.8 million.
The anti-charter side has yet to hit $1 million. The bigger of the two anti-charter groups, People for Our Public Schools, has now raised $668,000. Recent large contributions included $10,000 from the Washington state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, and $5,000 from SEIU Local 925.
The other group, called No on 1240, has raised $20,000.
October 23, 2012 at 1:20 PM
The National Education Association, which supports charter schools in some states, has contributed $250,000 to the campaign to defeat a charter school initiative here, the campaign’s largest contribution to date.
The NEA is the parent group for the Washington Education Association, Washington’s largest teachers union, and it has donated to anti-charter-school campaigns here in the past. WEA President Mary Lindquist said the NEA leaders think Initiative 1240 is an extreme measure, in part because it comes at a time when Washington’s Supreme Court has said the state already underfunds existing public schools.
“It’s the wrong idea at the wrong time,” Lindquist said.
The WEA also kicked into another $50,000 to the No campaign this week, bringing its total to $200,000.
Charter supporters still have much more money, now $9.3 million and counting, mostly from a number of wealthy individuals such as Bill Gates and Walmart heiress Alice Walton.
October 17, 2012 at 4:51 PM
Ballots are in the mail. Many of the statewide initiative campaigns are heating up. And you are invited to join us Thursday at noon for a live chat on charter schools, Initiative 1240. Should we or shouldn’t we allow public charter schools in our state? Many other states allow these schools. But Washington voters have said several times they do not want to allow charters.
Ask questions, comment and be part of the discussion with two experts on the topic.
From the yes on charters campaign, we will have Shannon Campion, a parent and education advocate and executive director of the Washington Chapter of Stand For Children, which is a founding member of the YES on 1240 Coalition, a statewide bi-partisan coalition of teachers, parents, education organizations and other groups.
Also with us Thursday, opposing the initiative is Wayne Au, an assistant professor in the education program at the University of Washington, Bothell. He is an editor for the progressive education magazine, Rethinking Schools. He is the author of numerous books, chapters, and articles, and his research focuses on issues of equality and justice in education.”
October 16, 2012 at 4:38 PM
The money keeps rolling in for the pro-charter-school initiative, with another $700,000 in donations reported last week, following $3 million the week before.
The latest donations include $400,000 from Connie Ballmer, wife of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, $200,000 from billionaire businessman and philanthropist Eli Broad, and $100,000 from Doris Fisher of San Francisco, who co-founded the Gap clothing chain with her late husband.
The two groups campaigning against Initiative 1240 haven’t even raised $700,000 total. People for Our Public Schools posted a couple of $10,000 contributions last week, bringing its total to $320,000. Those $10,000 contributions came from labor groups – the International Union of Operating Engineers out of Washington, D.C., and the Washington State Labor Council. No on 1240 has raised about $16,400.
The total donations for the Yes on 1240 committee are now about $9 million.
October 9, 2012 at 5:03 PM
The campaign to bring charter schools to Washington state received two big donations last week — $2 million from Bill Gates and $1.1 million from Alice Walton, daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.
Another $500,000 came from two New York residents, one of whom is the managing director of De Shaw and Co., a global investment and technology development firm based in Manhattan.
The group in favor of Initiative 1240 has now raised $8.3 million, dwarfing the contributions to the two opposition groups, which together have raised $277,000. More than half of that amount came from the state’s largest teachers union, the Washington Education Association.
Charter schools are independently run public schools that are given the flexibility to innovate, but are supposed to face increased accountability as well. More than 6,000 charters exist in 41 states.
In November, Washington voters will be asked for the fourth time whether to allow them to come here.
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