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I-1240: Many parents oppose charter schools

Letter by Susan M. Ryan, Tacoma on Aug. 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm with 57 Comments »
August 13, 2012 3:12 pm

I have grown weary of the claims that the only opponents of the charter school initiative, I-1240, are the teachers and their union. Many parents in my community do not support this poorly written initiative and we are doing our best with no funding from corporate donors to educate our neighbors about the dangers of this initiative.

We reject the claim that our schools are failing our kids. This simply is untrue, but it is a narrative that has been allowed to take hold and permeate the education debate. Those who will gain the most are not underachieving children but the wealthy investors promoting the expansion of charter schools, online schools and the educational products industry.

Corporate-funded groups like the League of Education Voters and Stand for Children do not speak for us. They mislead parents and have worked to undermine our schools and teachers, a pattern being repeated nationwide. Consider the parent’s voice, after all it is our children who have become the pawns in this education reform game.


Leave a comment Comments → 57
  1. aislander says:

    Problems with charter schools? Then let’s do vouchers…

  2. No vouchers and no charter schools. Just adequately fund public education and work to solve poverty in our town.
    Charter schools and vouchers take funds away from public schools. Why would anyone who has a brain think that is a good idea?

  3. aislander says:

    Er…charter schools ARE public schools.

    As for “adequately” funding public education: How much are we spending per pupil for abysmal results? Second-most in the world, you say? That is correct.

    Time either to try something new, or to return to methods that worked in the past, when the United States was recognized as the most educated nation in the world.

    Teach morals, punish the froward, teach the Constitution, expel the progressives…

  4. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    It’s mostly union families that ae against I-1240. So the union thugs out there will be writing LTE like these. The public is smart and considers the source.

    The reason I will vote for this is that it moves us in the direction of more choices as opposed to fewer. The direction you seem to be advocating is to just keep doing what we are doing now. And it is failing all of us.

  5. Fibonacci says:

    No, we don’t have “abysmal results”—-just a fallacy. Teach morals? That is the parents job, I don’t want someone else teaching my kids moral values. Punish the “froward” (sic)— what the hell does that even mean? “Expell the progressives”——you DO realize these are kids we are talking about, not politicians don’t you?

    What methods that worked in the past are you talking about other than the ridiculous statements above? I love you voucher clowns too. Ever check enrollment at private schools and tuition versus your share of taxes that go to schools? Not even close. Charter schools are not the answer.

  6. aislander says:

    Hey Fib: you must be a product of our public “education” system. Look up “froward” in your dictionary…

    …if you have one. (Hint: there are some online…)

    Thanks for illuminating my point.

  7. aislander says:

    Fibonacci writes: “…you DO realize these are kids we are talking about, not politicians don’t you?”

    Who’s talking about kids? I mean teachers and administrators.

  8. Charter schools are not public schools. They will not admit anyone and vouchers lead to the same restrictiveness. Charter schools do not have a better record than public schools, yet they take funds away from public schools along with their associated restrictiveness.

    The problem is poverty, poverty, poverty. Get it? Poverty!

  9. aislander says:

    Sorry, Pubs, you are misled, or are misleading. Charter schools ARE public schools. There are many public schools, such as Boston Latin, that are selective…

  10. So lets give all those living in poverty enough money to make them middle class, raise our taxes but not theirs by at least fifty percent. Would this satisfy those of you that believe it’s because of poverty and lack of funding, would that satisfy you? I somehow doubt it.

  11. itwasntmethistime says:

    You want to see poverty? Go to Haiti. America’s poor don’t know squat about poverty.

  12. Fibonacci says:

    So, you would limit teachers to be limited to registered Republicans? Maybe most teachers are progressive because they are able to actually think for themselves rather than spouting right wing dogma.

  13. Fibonacci says:

    By the way. Yes I AM a product of public schools, both K-12 and university. My kids have gone to both and if you are one of those ignoramuses that think there is something superior about private schools then you have no idea what you are talking about. They have smaller class sizes and can cherry pick students while public schools have to take everyone. Apples versus oranges.

  14. BigSwingingRichard says:

    I have never fully understood the argument that charter schools take money away from public schools.

    Setting aside the fact that charter schools are public schools, even if they were not, are not charter schools also removing kids from the public schools too? Thus if the money leaves, so does the cost of educating those kids.

    It seems like this would be a push, financially speaking. So what’s the problem?

  15. aislander says:

    No, Fib, I do not advocate that teachers must be Republicans, but since public schools are paid for by the public, I am championing that those who teach our children actually like America and its political and economic system and communicate that to their students.

    I am championing that those who teach resentment and victimhood to vulnerable populations be shown the door posthaste, along with all the wannabe Che Guevaras and Angela Davises.

    I don’t wish teachers to hide the truth, but the default position should be that America, while not perfect, is good. Don’t ignore the blemishes, but don’t teach that blemishes are all there are.

    Teach English grammar, spelling, proper pronunciation and all the other basics that seem to have been ditched in favor of political advocacy and a PC agenda.

    Any culture that supports an educational system that inculcates dislike of or indifference to that culture is suicidal.

  16. aislander says:

    And Fib: there is cohort whose thinking is as regimented as that of progressives. Absolutely cult-like…

  17. MyBandito says:

    Private school is the better option. I’ve never understood how those who loathe “being on the dole” would champion a system by which they can take their share of the dole and use it on a private education. If public school doesn’t suit you, move on, but don’t try to take our tax money with you. Man up and pay the tuition. Put YOUR money where your mouth is.

  18. commoncents says:

    Richard – the capital costs remain. That’s a problem, no?

    aislander – I know dozens of teachers that would love to expel the froward. However it’s simply not an option. And that’s where Charters are different and not comparable. They are public schools in name only and only due to their funding source. They are not for the general public and no amount of obfuscation will change that.

    So essentially what you are advocating is to return to a system where our students are taught the basics but not taught to challenge themselves and their intellectual capacity. They should blindly accept what is put in front of them and never be asked to think critically. Question though – Do you honestly think our school systems are filled with the fringe? My experience is that k-12 educators actually lean politically to the right. And while Universities are definately left leaning…they are not your target.

  19. aislander says:

    MyBandito: Vouchers aren’t designed for families with the means to “man up,” as you put it; they are to help poor families break out of the cycle of poverty.

    For an example, take a look at the voucher plan in DC that the Bamster put a hit on (it’s the Chicago way…).


  20. itwasntmethistime says:

    BSR — I agree with both you and commoncents. If a kid leaves a school the individual cost to educate that kid leaves, but overhead doesn’t. HOWEVER, the reason I don’t think it actually matters is because both sides of that argument are constantly present anyway. That never changes.

    No matter what a school’s enrollment is, those championing for increased funding argue that the current enrollment is causing a worse budget problem than usual. It’s either 1) we have fewer students than last year so we don’t have enough money, or 2) we have more students than last year so we don’t have enough money, or 3) we have the same number of students as last year so we don’t have enough money. They don’t want to say the district has not lived within it’s budget so they blame it on enrollment.

    Whenever a district tries to consolidate two schools with extremely low enrollment people scream that keeping the neighborhood school open is much more important than optimizing student number vs overhead. That says to me that the overhead argument doesn’t carry that much weight.

  21. stradivari says:

    My son has been teaching in a well-known charter school in southern California. It is funded by tax money but has no oversight or accountability from an elected school district. Students are selected supposedly by lottery but from the more affluent nearby neighborhood. Six blocks down the street is the public high school with the poorer mostly hispanic kids. A handful of elite parents and a “principal/superintendant” make arbitrary decisions. Instructors are routinely assigned too many classes out of their area of expertise. There is no established set of professional guidelines or practices. If there is a formal teacher evaluation system, it is not in use. The school is being reorganized after being recognized as a collossal failure a few years back. Bill Gates and his rich friends who went to prestigious private Lakeside School may have good intentions at trying to buy an election for charter schools, but they should stick to software and operating coffee shops and online book stores. Evidence is that charter schools (and vouchers) appeal to those who want to re-segregate schools. Tax funded schools that are not accountable to local school boards have no place in Washington state. The people have already voted against them three times.

  22. MyBandito says:

    There are those of us who can afford the likes of Charles Wright Academy. There are some who qualify for privately funded scholarships to the private school of choice. Vouchers take away from public school so that some students can attend private school.

    What purpose is served, other than to break the teacher’s union, by offering some students publicly funded scholarships to private schools in the name of vouchers?

    Those who are left out suffer the consequences of a public school system with precious public funding sidetracked for the benefit of a few.

    Instead of further crippling public education, fund and support public education the way Charles Wright Academy is funded and supported.

  23. aislander says:

    So…you would keep poor kids stuck in failing schools? That is consistent at least, since it perpetuates the cycle of poverty and keeps more people dependent on the Democrats…

  24. MyBandito says:


    Doc would roll over in his grave if he saw your lack of comprehension.

    Beam me up, Scotty!

  25. itwasntmethistime says:

    Bandito — Charles Wright Academy is funded with private dollars and, more importantly, extensive parental support. Take any public school, anywhere, and require the parents to spend as much time focused on their children’s education and upbringing as Charles Wright parents do and that public school will be a booming success. And no, my kids don’t go there.

    No amount of money pumped into any school will ever take the place of good parenting. It’s not all about test scores either. Some people want charter schools so they can get their kids away from the bad language, bad attitudes, and bad influence of the kids who come from homes with parents who accept that behavior. If all the test scores were dead even I would still choose the school where the kids have better manners.

  26. MyBandito says:

    itwasntmethistime- Who decides which kids get picked to attend the “good” public school and which don’t?

    I’m encouraged that you place the blame on “bad” parents and not the teachers. If the “good” parents want a special atmosphere for their offspring they should be willing to pay for it, or live in a better school district. If they cannot then they will have to accept that which the public is willing to provide.

    Why do you suppose those CWA parents spend as much time focused on their children’s education and upbringing? Because they have plenty of skin in that system?

    Did you teach there?

  27. commoncents says:

    aislander – how exactly do you think siphoning off the top 2% of students will improve the performance of the remaining 98%. Don’t tell me competition will force the schools to improve as charter schools are actually removing competition.

    Or are you actually advocating that only those people whose test scores are in the bottom third would be eligible for charter school funding. That is something that I would support but you’d lose the support of the vast majority of folks who simply want to remove their kids from the “problem children” without having to fund it themselves.

  28. commoncents says:

    Itwasntme – so then for you it’s not about the quality of education at all. It’s segregation. And, no, I don’t mean that racially. There are good kids and bad kids from every race. I can totally understand not wanting your kids to be exposed to such behavior. That’s why I moved to where I did. Voluntary segregation has been going on for as long as man owned homes. I don’t blame you for doing it…just don’t look to public funds to do support it.

  29. commoncents says:

    Itwasntme – they struggle with budget numbers now as the result of normal demographic changes and you want to institutionalize it?

    It’s not that the financial obstacles can’t be overcome it’s just that it’s not clearly spelled out in the legislation. I can guarantee you that the taxpayers are not going to come out ahead in any squabble over money. As an example…let’s say a school votes to go charter but 30% of the students don’t want to participate (very real because I wouldn’t). Now, does the charter school pay for the school? Does the district reboundary? Does the district pay for transporting the remaining students? Are the other schools able to handle the influx of the new students?

    Too many questions without documented answers.

  30. alindasue says:

    aislander again said, “…stuck in failing schools…”

    I’m all for alternate school choices and may yet vote for the charter schools initiative (still deciding) – but personally, I’m getting tired of the “failing schools” mantra.

    My two youngest daughters are currently enrolled in public school. We live in an area of town where a large percentage of families qualify for free or reduced lunch.

    In these “failing” schools that they attended last year (they’ll both be in high school this year), I have seen a strong emphasis on preparing the students to attend college.

    The students are learning algebra and higher levels of math at a younger age than when our generation was in school. There is no “basic high school math” available any more for students that don’t want to take algebra. They are expected to learn algebra and at least some advance level algebra and geometry or they don’t graduate. (Only disabled students in special ed are exempt, and even they have to show a certain level of improvement.)

    I was one of the advanced students in my high school. My daughter is entering her senior year having already completed math that I took in my senior year. Her younger sister will reach the same level a year earlier.

    Writing ability also is expected to be at higher levels to graduate. “Advanced placement” classes in language and science are becoming more common.

    If that’s “failed schools”, then what does that say about the education levels of our own generation? It isn’t that schools have gotten worse. It’s that standards have gotten higher – and the majority of our kids are meeting those standards.

  31. itwasntmethistime says:

    Bandito and commencents — I’ll agree there is plenty regarding the charter school initiative that I don’t know. How is the lottery for available spots run? If an existing school votes to become a charter where do the families who don’t want it end up? Who gets to pick where the schools are geographically? With regard to discipline, who gets to decide which behaviors will get a kid kicked out?

    I haven’t put much thought into the details of how to feasibly run 2 separate but equal school systems side by side. It’s the concept I like. Yes, I do think there should be a place for families who don’t want to expose their kid to bad behavior or waste their time in a class full of kids 2 years below grade level.

    Vouchers are interesting, but the private schools are almost all faith-based so they couldn’t accept vouchers. That leaves charters, so if comeone can figure out the details then have at it.

  32. commoncents says:

    itwasntme – and I have to admit that there are plenty of things that I like about charter schools. But, I don’t think that they are the panacea to learning that people think that they are. And, I think that they create more problems than they resolve. Would they benefit my own kid on a micro level? Absolutely – but then again I’m part of the parent cadre that cares and so public schools are not failing him. In fact, I would venture a guess as to say that the system is failing very very very few students of involved parents. And if that’s the case then the system is just fine. We just haven’t made it fool-proof yet. Note – I don’t think it’s economics…it’s priorities. My neighbors are fairly well off compared to me yet are not anything more than cursorily involved in their kids education and suprisingly their kids are struggling in school.

  33. Fibonacci says:

    No rational parent wants his kid in class with “bad” kids, or kids below grade level. So what happens, if the lottery gets more “bad” students than good ones. how will that help your kid? So I take it you want the public to pay for charter schools for the “good” kids, and have the “bad” kids, the kids whose parents don’t care, special ed kids and so on, left in the “other” public schools?

  34. Bandito: the problem is, this initiative does not work out the details. Nothing in it determines where the charters will be geographically, or requires them to serve any particular demographic. (For example: at risk students)

    In the fiscal note, the Office of Fiscal Management basically threw up its hands and said “we don’t know what this will cost” (“indeterminate but non-zero” was the actual language they used) because there are simply too many unknown factors. We’d be relying upon an appointed, partisan Charter School Commission to make the right decisions, based on little more than wishful thinking.

    If you like the idea of charters and you want someone else to work out the details, this initiative is not for you.

    (And on the public vs. private debate, charters are schools that operate with public taxpayer dollars, under private management. In other words, instead of paying a principal directly, we would pay a charter management organization to hire and manage a principal, and in the trade we lose the ability to have a say in what happens at that school.)

  35. Sorry, I guess I was replying to “Itwasntmethistime,” not Bandito.

  36. cclngthr says:


    I am assuming itwasnemethistime wants to further separate kids by ability, from various comments he has made on the subject. He feels special needs kids don’t deserve an education because they are uneducatable according to his standards.

  37. Fibonacci says:

    Charter School advocates want the public to pay for private schools for their kids. I would vote for Charter Schools if they advocated for at risk and special needs kids. Those are the ones that need something different. But to think that Charter Schools are only going to take motivated, well behaved kids with caring parents, and that THEY can get THEIR kids in is just ludicrous. Send your kids to a private school if you want a school that cherry picks their students.

  38. aislander says:

    I’m for educational tracks, as is done in Germany, Japan, South Korea and other nations that are recognized for the high quality of their educational systems.

    Yes: “siphon off” the top two percent (or whatever the percentage actually is) and let them excel in their preferred path, and let those for whom college is not the best option excel in theirs.

    As for the froward, try to save them but, if it can’t be done, students who wish to learn would do better without the disruption.

    The early grades should be about acquiring the basic tools, most especially a command of standard English, written and spoken. Once students have the tools of thought, then teach “critical thinking” (as if that is being done currently). Critical thinking seems to be synonymous with indoctrination.

  39. MyBandito says:

    Honestly, wouldn’t it be better to properly fund our public schools than to go through all this rigamarole attempting to reinvent the wheel.

    If it takes more money, than so be it.

    If it takes more parental involvement then let’s get people moving.

    But the elephant in the room is the Right’s distaste for the teacher’s union. And that’s what seems to be driving this desire for taking public education money away from our public schools.

  40. aislander says:

    “…properly fund our public schools…”

    We’re NOT “properly funding” our schools?! We spend more per pupil than any nation in the WORLD except Switzerland!

    What the hell IS “proper funding?”

  41. BigSwingingRichard says:

    Before anyone tries to blame private school parents for any failures of public education, keep in mind that private school parents pay a lot for private schools and they pay for public schools via their property taxes. The amount most private school parents pay in property taxes is significant.

  42. itwasntmethistime says:

    Fib — The odds of a bunch of “bad” students ending up in a charter school are pretty low because their parents would have to make an effort to get them into the school and if they were making an effort when it came to their kids’ education they probably wouldn’t be “bad” in the first place. And if there were a bunch of “bad” students concentrated in the same classroom why would that be bad? A charter school that focuses on kids who have fallen behind. Hmmm.

    jenyum — I agree. The msjor flaw with the initiative is that it doesn’t spell out the details. But I’m wondering if the details can’t really be worked out until/unless the vote is passed to measure interest. The initiative creates the opportunity for charters, it doesn’t mandate them.

  43. itwasntmethistime says:

    bandito — “…let’s get people moving.” If you figure that out you will have solved one of our nation’s biggest problems. I’m all ears. What do you have in mind to get people moving?

  44. MyBandito says:

    Compare the class size of public schools to that of Charles Wright. Proper funding of public education would be, enough to lower the class sizes down to CWA’s level, enough to provide the best equipment possible. CWA has fund raisers even though the tuition is 20k+/year. Public schools get by with much much less, but they have to skimp.

    Some parents will never get involved but there are plenty of parents who would be more involved given the right motivation.

    itwasntmethistime- are/were you a teacher at CWA? Do you know how they get parents more involved?

  45. aislander says:

    The analyses I have seen show that there is no relationship between class size and pupil performance. Smaller classes mean only that it is necessary to hire more teachers…

  46. MyBandito says:


    “Research, for the most part, tends to support the belief in the benefits of small classes. While not all studies on the subject have shown that students learn more in smaller settings—and some are still ongoing—most have linked smaller classes to improvements in achievement.”


    “The most influential and credible study of CSR is the Student Teacher Achievement Ratio, or STAR, study which was conducted in Tennessee during the late 1980s. In this study, students and teachers were randomly assigned to a small class, with an average of 15 students, or a regular class, with an average of 22 students. This large reduction in class size (7 students, or 32 percent) was found to increase student achievement by an amount equivalent to about 3 additional months of schooling four years later.”

    “Because the pool of credible studies is small and the individual studies differ in the setting, method, grades, and magnitude of class size variation that is studied, conclusions have to be tentative. But it appears that very large class-size reductions, on the order of magnitude of 7-10 fewer students per class, can have significant long-term effects on student achievement and other meaningful outcomes. These effects seem to be largest when introduced in the earliest grades, and for students from less advantaged family backgrounds.”

  47. aislander says:

    Nice cherry picking. Class size makes a difference only in the very early grades, particularly kindergarten…

  48. alindasue–You hit the nail on the head with your description of “failing schools”.
    With NCLB, education companies make millions of dollars on textbooks, new curriculum, testing and more to help improve our “failing schools” that aren’t really failing.

  49. itwasntmethistime says:

    Bandito — Nope, not a teacher, parent, or alumni of CWA. At any given time I’ve always known a few people there so I’ve kept up with what’s going on. CWA doesn’t convert inactive parents to involved ones. They only take families with involved parents in the first place. What could be more motivating than the thrill of watching your kid learn and develop? If that doesn’t stimulate a parent to take an interest in their own kid I have no idea what will. CWA certainly isn’t problem-free. Rich people have problems too, just different problems.

    You’ve pointed out the most expensive private school around. Don’t forget that there are plenty of others that are a lot less expensive. There are some first-rate Christian schools that charge less than $5000 per year for elementary school.

  50. BeamMeupKirk says:

    @Publicolo writes: “Charter schools are not public schools. They will not admit anyone and vouchers lead to the same restrictiveness. Charter schools do not have a better record than public schools, yet they take funds away from public schools along with their associated restrictiveness.”

    Absolutely 100% wrong and misleading. Public charter schools ARE public schools — publicly funded and independently managed, do not charge tuition, and also provide equal access to all students wanting to enroll.

    They do not “take funds away” from traditional public schools. If a child is not enrolled in a traditional public school, the school does not receive funding for that child, just as is currently the case, just as it should be. Are you advocating that traditional public schools should be funded for teaching children who AREN’T enrolled?

    I-1240 is supported by many parents, many teachers, all of whom recognize that the current system is not working for far too many struggling and at-risk students. Parents want and should have options. No hesitation in my mind at all, I’m voting Yes on 1240.

  51. MyBandito says:

    “They (Charles Wright Academy) only take families with involved parents in the first place.”

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the Public Schools were able to hand pick their students and families like CWA? They can’t. So, those who choose to spend their money on everything else and have nothing left to spend on education want us, the taxpayers, to provide for them, an alternative to public school, so that their babies don’t have to put up with “the bad kids.”

    Sorry, I’m just not feeling it.

    Skimp and save and work two jobs to send your kids to the private school of your choice, but don’t expect special treatment when you’re on the dole. If public schools don’t live up to your standards then get involved. If you don’t want to get involved then too bad for your kid. But don’t take my tax money away from my public schools.

  52. aislander says:

    Public schools: the Solyndra of education…

  53. itwasntmethistime says:

    That makes perfect sense, Bandito. Don’t go into a Chinese restaurant and complain you can’t get a decent plate of spaghetti. Get your Chinese food and enjoy it. But, if while you are there, you happen to discover that 25 or 30 or 50% of the people enjoying their Chinese food were craving spaghetti, you might wonder if that neighborhood would be well-served by an Italian restaurant as well as a Chinese restaurant.

    It’s not just a few complainers. There are a significant number of people who home school or use private schools to get away from the negative elements of their local public school. They are tax payers too, and their kids should get to learn in a classroom from a teacher who doesn’t spend the majority of her time handling behavior issues and trying to catch up kids who are a full grade level or 2 behind.

    Alindasue — I agree with you that our high schools are offering more and more quality opportunities all the time. High schools are big enough to offer a wide array of courses to suit kids of all levels and interests. I think this charter school idea is good for elementary school, where there can be a huge difference between knowledge and maturity in one classroom. When your first grade class has kids who are reading at the 4th grade level and kids who can’t read on their own yet, the higher level kids don’t get much attention. In high school they can take classes by level instead of by age so it’s not the same.

  54. commoncents says:

    itwasntme – the problem that you speak of with kids at varying levels has been around since the dawn of time. Well at least it was around when I went to school – I lived it and my parents asked that I be put in a higher grade for those subjects that I excelled at. Note: I tried this with my kid and got all sorts of excuses why they couldn’t. Hacked me off, big time! My solution was using outside websites to supplement his reading/math skills so that he’s still far ahead of his peers. Khan Academy, Xtramath, IXL, Starfall, Readingbrain… and the list goes on. Yes, extra time is spent with the lower level students but that doesn’t mean your kid has to do without…he/she just needs to be supplemented (kind of your job isn’t it?).

  55. MyBandito says:

    itwasntmethistime- You’re confusing a private restaurant with a food bank. If you don’t like the food at the food bank save up and go to the restaurant of your choice (private school or home school).

    I still think that the real issue is breaking the teacher’s union.

  56. itwasntmethistime says:

    commoncents — Yes, the problem of varying levels has been around since the dawn of time. So has the pursuit of a solution. I, too, lived it. In my case the school wanted to bump me up 2 grades, but my mother refused because I was tiny and immature. Jr. high would not have been a good place for a 9-yr old who looked like a 6-yr old. I ended up sitting in the back of the classrooom doing nothing for several years. Nobody cared what I did all day because I still aced all the tests.

    Somebody needs to go to bat for the kids who test well but still aren’t getting much out of going to school. You can supplement at home, but it doesn’t change the fact that your kid is wasting 4 of his 6 hours at school. If it was a relative few kids I would agree that they need to find (and fund) their own solution but since there are enough kids in this situation to create entire schools I think we should.

  57. MyBandito says:

    Foss IB.

    Quest, Puyallup.

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