Anyone who has lived a couple of decades on this planet knows that life is full of nuance (even if we don't want to admit it). We know that life isn't always fair.
But in my years in advocacy, I have always puzzled over why some don't want to be entirely truthful when it comes to certain issues. They may have privately looked at an issue from all sides but publicly, what they say, that's a different question.
This is the case in the charter school bill. I am fine (truly) with anyone who wants charters. However, this bill is bad and it really is troubling that those who want charters would accept such a lousy bill just to get charters in Washington State.
I have repeatedly called out several big issues with the bill. Not one single person, at any blog, at any forum, in any e-mail, any phone call, has addressed a one of them. It's like they don't exist.
I got this nonsense over at LEV.
"No bill is perfect."
I know that. You can't make everyone happy. But there's a reason to try to work for the best bill possible.
It's obvious - you make it easier to pass. I'd have a lot less to work with if this bill was a solid one. All I'd have if it were a good bill are the research papers and stats that have bad things to say about charters versus the other side's research papers and stats that have good thing say about them. That discussion would really be about winning hearts and minds.
But over at LEV they do admit it has flaws but won't admit what they are or explain why the bill should be passed in spite of them. I mean even the simple request of telling me where the money will come from to pay for this (what would they cut in our state budget for charters), is ignored. They just want it passed.
Then I find out that over at the 34th Dems, Steve Sundquist (you all remember him, right?) and Chris Korsmo (LEV's head) showed up with a pro-charters resolution. The anti-charter resolution was addressed first and Sundquist and Korsmo spoke for charters. The anti-charter resolution soundly passed and the pro-charter one was withdrawn.
What's interesting is that Steve Sundquist stood on the Town Hall stage (and other venues) during the SB campaign and said he did not support charters. We all saw him walk, with ALL the other candidates, to the NO side of the stage when the question was asked.
But in a scant few months, he changed his mind. That leads me to wonder who on our current Board might have changed their minds about charter schools (or had their fingers crossed). If the charter bill passes, that would be more than a game changer for SPS. If the Board were to review and approve charter proposals, that endangers a lot of money especially levy money as charters approved before levies are allowed to receive a share of the money...off the top.
To explain, we have three levies - Operations, BTA and BEX. Operations levy money spending is determined by the district and not allotted out to schools in equal shares. Well, under this bill, the charters would likely get their share right off the top and THEN the district would decide what to do with the rest.
With BEX, say the district has 100 buildings (including charters). The BEX levy is $500M and it passes. How much off the top would charters get each? $5M, just like that. And, the money goes to the building they are in whether it's a district building or not. Public money going into renovation/maintenance for buildings the district does not own. Good stuff.
So back to the story. Then Chris Korsmo gets up and gave her pitch. However, she said she was a member of the 34th and a SPS parent. Period. It's more than a little disingenuous to be the head of a state-wide education organization that is hugely supporting charter legislation and not tell that to the crowd assembled. (She could have said, I have job X but I am speaking as John Q. Citizen.) But she didn't. You have to wonder why not.
Then there's the big argument/discussion over at Publicola over co-founder of LEV (and yet another wealthy person who wants to explain public education to the masses), Nick Hanauer. Mr. Hanauer, a presumed Democrat, is talking to Rob McKenna who is running for Governor. Mr. Hanauer is entitled to talk to and support anyone he wants but he perceives he will get want he believes is best for public education. But is that the same thing as getting better public education?
Here's a link to what McKenna wants to do for public education. It is quite vast and far-reaching and my first reaction was "We don't even fully-fund education now. Where the heck would he get the money for all this?"
Mr. Hanauer wrote an e-mail to another Democratic donor complaining that the state Dems are “on the wrong side of every important education reform issue.” He apparently went "ballistic" on Frank Chopp, the Speaker of the House. He complains that the Dems:
- "oppose high standards for teachers"
- "oppose employment policies based on quality"
- "oppose accountability in all forms"
- "cling to the status quo"
He says he likes unions but that the Washington State Dems leadership and "most" of the elected members are "stooges" for the teachers union.
All those items I listed above? Mr. Hanauer really believes each and every one of them in full about Washington State Dems? I find that hard to believe. I can't find one single person who wants the status quo for public education in Washington State. I can't find anyone who doesn't want teachers AND principals AND superintendents AND school boards to be accountable.
But it makes for a good story when you are frustrated about not getting things exactly the way you want them (like School Board elections).
And that's where I get to the fairness plug.
Just tell the truth and the whole truth and let people decide for themselves. That is truly the respectful thing to do.
I wrote an entire series to explain charters. I have listed good charters several times. I tried to talk about this issue with a whole-idea approach even though, clearly, I have my own personal stand.
But I really worry and wonder about saying anything - half-truths, half the story - to get what you want. If what you believe is right, how is telling the good, the bad and the ugly going to hurt? Why is making sure that everyone understands the possible outcomes and ramifications to a bill a problem?
It's a mystery.