Sections:

Article

'In other words, charter schools may not be funded with state dollars dedicated to funding our state's common schools...' Washington State court declares that charter schools are not real public schools

In one of those growing number of stories that will never be reported by Chicago's corporate media, a court in Washington State has declared the charter schools are not real public schools because they are not under public control. As a result, charter school proliferation is stopped, for now, in Washington. With Chicago poised to add a dozen more charters and so-called "campuses" between now and January 2014 (when the Board will vote on the latest round of charter school RFPs), this is an important story for Chicago, which began the spread of charter schools under Arne Duncan and has continued their proliferation under a dozen pretexts despite the massive opposition to those privatized attacks on real public schools.

The greatest attack on the public schools of the United States of America since the beginning of Jim Crow schools against the education of black people has been the policy of the administration of President Barack Obama since he appointed Arne Duncan to be U.S. Secretary of Education in January 2009. Under various mendacious claims, the Obama administration has foisted and forced the greatest privatization movement in public school history by forcing states to expand charter schools, while the massive corruption that has accompanied the expansion has been covered up by the Obama administration and its public relations army.The argument is simple: "...charter schools may not be funded with state dollars dedicated to funding our state's common schools..."

Diane Ravitch reports that story this morning at her blog:

Last fall, there was a hard-fought election in Washington State over charter schools. Voters had turned them down three times but this time was different: Bill Gates, the Walton family, and a passel of super-rich people gathered $10 million or so to support the charter idea and their initiative passed by a small margin.

However, today a judge ruled the law unconstitutional because the state constitution says public funds are solely for "common schools" and charters--under private management, are not common schools.

"In a ruling issued today (pdf), King County Superior Court Judge Jean Rietschel has tossed out the heart of Washington State's charter schools law on the grounds that it violates the constitutional provision that state education revenues be "exclusively applied to the support of the common schools."

"But, Judge Rietschel concludes: "A charter school cannot be defined as a common school because it is not under the control of the voters of the school district. The statute places control under a private non-profit organization, a local charter board and/or the Charter Commission."

"In other words, charter schools may not be funded with state dollars dedicated to funding our state's common schools."

The term "common schools" was used in the nineteenth century to refer to public schools supported by all and open to all, under democratic control.

The court might usefully have looked at rulings in federal courts and the NLRB where charters have fended off lawsuits by disgruntled employees or by employees hoping to form a union by asserting that they are not public schools and are not subject to the same state laws. Or the courts might have looked at the amicus brief filed by the California Charter School Association in support of charter school founders convicted of misappropriation of public funds, earlier this fall. The charter founders were not guilty, said CCSA, because they were operating a private corporation with a government contract, not subject to the same laws as public schools.

You can be sure the decision today in Washington State will be appealed.

REPORT FROM WASHINGTON:

Court Declares Washington's Charter Schools Law Unconstitutional. posted by GOLDY on THU, DEC 12, 2013 at 1:29 PM

In a ruling issued today (pdf), King County Superior Court Judge Jean Rietschel has tossed out the heart of Washington State's charter schools law on the grounds that it violates the constitutional provision that state education revenues be "exclusively applied to the support of the common schools."

But, Judge Rietschel concludes: "A charter school cannot be defined as a common school because it is not under the control of the voters of the school district. The statute places control under a private non-profit organization, a local charter board and/or the Charter Commission."

In other words, charter schools may not be funded with state dollars dedicated to funding our state's common schools.

This is a big, though not unexpected loss for charter schools proponents. The initiative's effort to classify charter schools as common schools always seemed a bit of a legal stretch. I'll have some more thoughts after further study.

Both parties asked for and received summary judgement, and given the urgency of the case, it will likely be appealed directly to the state supreme court.

UPDATE: I just saw the Seattle Times headline that claims that "Judge upholds most of state charter school law." I'm not sure how they come to that conclusion. Judge Rietschel ruled that charter schools are not common schools, and Article IX, Section 2 of the Washington State Constitution is quite clear:

SECTION 2 PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM. The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools. The public school system shall include common schools, and such high schools, normal schools, and technical schools as may hereafter be established. But 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.

Unless I'm missing something, that would seem to rule out state funding. And I'm not sure how charter schools work without it.

Second, on many of those elements of the law Judge Reitschel did not toss out, she didn't as much uphold them as merely rule that the plaintiff's arguments were not justiciable because the provision in question has not yet been implemented, or because the plaintiffs did not make "a sufficient showing for facial invalidity."

So I'm sticking with my headline.

UPDATE, UPDATE: To clarify, the "state tax for common schools" which Article IX, Section 2 refers to appears to be the state portion of the property tax, about $2 billion a year, almost a quarter of state public school funding. (Though personally, I'd argue that language could be read more broadly to include all state taxes spent for common schools.) The "common school fund" is a separate fund that funds construction.

FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE WASHINGTON STORY...



Comments:

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at substancenews.net. We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

4 + 3 =