Volume 1, Issue 1
September 29, 2009

Legislative Update
Washington Charter School Resource Center Important Update

Charter School Debate is Worth Revisiting

The Olympian
Published 9/15/09

Actions have consequences. That's one of life's tough lessons.

This state's steadfast refusal to allow charter schools is going to have a financial consequence.

Washington is one of 11 states without charter schools, and that puts this state at the back of the line when it comes to receiving more than $4 billion in federal education grants.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan, acting on behalf of President Barack Obama, has made it clear that states willing to embrace charter schools and other favored innovations will get preference when it's time to award grants.

States that refuse to comply may well end up shut out of the money.

Gov. Chris Gregoire says this state might have a shot at some of the education reform dollars, but admits Washington will receive less money than if we had a charter schools law.

Gregoire, who recently talked with Duncan about the federal funding, is hoping to convince the education secretary that Washington has other creative education programs and is willing to change.

"The secretary was clear, that's what they're looking for - nontraditional schools that allow students to excel."

To read the rest of this article click this link.

Dear Friends,

It's been five years since our charter school law was repealed by referendum. For the first time since 2004, there is a realistic chance to bring the choice of charter public schools to Washington State.

If you want to help, click on this link.

  1. The 2009 Federal Stimulus bill included $4.3 billion for "Race to The Top" grants.
  2. These one-time grants will be distributed to states in early 2010 using criteria adopted by the U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. He is a big supporter of charter schools, included charter schools in the preliminary critieria and is expected to include them again in the final criteria that will be published in November.
  3. If the 2010 Legislature enacts a new charter school law along with some other key changes, our state will likely receive a one-time federal grant in 2010 of between $200 million and $400 million.
  4. That's a lot of money, especially for a state that has a $1 billion budget deficit in 2010 with huge cutbacks expected in education and other important programs.

In order to lobby the Legislature to pass a "Race to the Top" bill that includes charter schools we have created a new organization called Kids First Washington. If you would like to be part of this effort you need to click on the following link: Kids First Washington Update list

My wife Fawn will be leading this effort.

Thank you for your interest in charter schools!

Jim Spady, President and Executive Director
Washington Charter School Resource Center

Proposed 'Race to Top' Rules Seen as Prescriptive
By Michele McNeil, Education Week

As the U.S. Department of Education prepares to fine-tune its rules for the Race to the Top Fund competition, officials face objections from many states, school districts, and teachers' unions that the federal government is seeking to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to its education improvement efforts.

But Secretary of Education Arne Duncan isn't likely to budge from his strong stance that this $4 billion in coveted discretionary aid is his lever to push states toward what he calls common-sense reforms. Chief among them: using data to track students and improve their achievement; spreading uniform, rigorous academic standards across states; improving teacher quality; and turning around the worst-performing schools.

"We're just saying that there are some fundamental building blocks. How you get from A to B will be different. We expect a lot of variation among states," Mr. Duncan said in an interview at the department today.

He disagrees with critics who say the Race to the Top Fund-which will be doled out through a strictly voluntary competition-is too prescriptive. Rather, he said, "this is a way of challenging the status quo in a much more tough-minded way."

Still, he has asked all of his senior staff members to read some of the formal public comments submitted about the proposed Race to the Top Fund regulations so they can get a feel for how the education community has reacted.

During the 30-day comment period on the proposed rules, which ended Aug. 28, the department received 1,135 comments on 19 criteria by which states would be judged, from how friendly their charter school climates are to how they reward good teachers. For a time, the proposed regulations made it onto the "What's Hot" list on the federal government's regulations Web site, ranking among the top 10 most-visited filings.

The Race to the Top program is an education reform competition for states made possible by $4 billion from the $787 billion economic-stimulus package Congress passed in February. Details are still pending on a separate, $350 million grant competition through the Race to the Top Fund to help states' efforts to adopt common assessments.

Joanne Weiss, the department's Race to the Top Fund director, said her team will make any needed changes in time to have the final regulations issued by early November. That's also when the department expects to outline the scoring rubric that will explain how much weight the different criteria will receive. The department hopes to award the first of two phases of grant money to states early next year. ("'Race to Top' Guidelines Stress Use of Test Data," July 23, 2009.)

To read the rest of the this article got to: Proposed 'Race to Top' Rules Seen as Prescriptive


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