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Spin Control

Posts tagged: Charter Schools

Mapping the Vote: Spokane on charter schools

Initiative 1240, which would allow the state to set up as many as 40 charter schools over the next five years, has a slight lead statewide and in Spokane County.

For a map on the state results on I-1240, click here.

For a closer look at the Spokane County vote, click on the PDF document below


Documents:

Big money continues to roll in to campaigns

With just two weeks left for voters to return their general election ballots, large amounts of money are flowing into some Washington campaigns for top offices and measures that propose major changes to state law.

The state Democratic Party reported a $350,000 contribution Monday to its gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee, who a local poll suggests is tied with Republican Rob McKenna, and campaign disclosure records show is running behind in the money race. . .

A poll of 500 Washington voters conducted by 360 Strategies said McKenna and Inslee are each supported by 46 percent of those surveyed through the weekend. McKenna has raised about $12.1 million and Inslee about $10.6 milllion, although the Democratic former congressman’s totals don’t yet include Monday’s contribution from the state party, or a $93,000 contribution last week.

At this point in the campaign, state law requires candidates and donors to report any contribution of more than $1,000 as a “last-minute contribution” on a special form.  To see the latest update of the PDC last-minute contribution list, click here.

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Charter school measure makes November ballot

OLYMPIA — An initiative which will be the fourth attempt to get voter approval for charter schools will be on the November ballot.

Initiative 1240 has enough valid signatures to qualify for the Nov. 6 election, the Secretary of State's office said this afternoon.

Although supporters had a mere 21 days to collect signatures, they turned in about 115,000 more than the 241,000 needed to put an initiative on the ballot. They accomplished that largely with paid signature gatherers, paying almost $2.1 million to a California company, PCI Consultants.

The state Elections Division said a random sampling of the petitions showed a rejection rate of about 16 percent, resulting in I-1240 qualifying as the sixth ballot measure for this fall.

Under the initiative, a charter school would be a public school governed by a special board and operated under a special contract that outlines powers, responsibilities and performance expectations. As many as 40 such schools could be set up in the state over the next five years, either by public school districts or nonprofit organizations. The per-pupil allotment that a public school would get would go to the charter school for its students.

Voters have turned down charter school proposals in 1996, 2000 and 2004.  

Charter school fans spent $2 million for signatures

OLYMPIA — Supporters of a ballot measure to put charter schools on the Washington ballot for the fourth time paid more than $2 million to an out-of-state firm to gather the signatures that virtually assure them of a vote.

Reports filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission show the campaign for Initiative 1240 paid about $2.1 million to PCI Consultants Inc. of Calabasas, Calif. A spokeswoman for the campaign had refused to reveal the amount spent on signature-gathering, or the company that received it, when supporters turned in signatures last Friday.

That expenditure allowed I-1240 to gather about 350,000 signatures, almost 110,000 more  than the minimum required to qualify for the ballot, in a little more than three weeks. That's far more than the cushion recommended by the Secretary of State's office, and makes certification all but certain.

PCI has a long track record of gathering signatures for ballot measures in Washington, receiving a total of more than $8.3 million over the last seven years, campaign disclosulre records show. It was paid to gather signatures last year for I-502, the marijuana legalization proposal on this year's ballot, as well as for an initiative that required more training for home health care workers and one that would require more humane treatment of farm animals. In 2010, it was paid to gather signatures for a proposal to impose an income tax on upper income residents and for one of two plans to end state control of liquor sales.

All but the farm animal initiative reached the ballot. But of the three that went before voters in the last two general elections, only I-1163, the home health care worker proposal, passed.

The $2.1 million may represent a record expense for signatures to get an initiative on the Washington ballot. PDC records show it far exceeds any previous payment to PCI from a client and also outstrips the reported costs of gathering signatures for last year's liquor sales initiative, about $1.12 million.

The signature campaign for the charter schools initiative was bankrolled by some of the big names in Washington's high tech industry, including $1 million from Bill Gates, $100,000 from Paul Allen and $450,000 from members of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos's family.

I-1240 would allow the school districts or nonprofits to open as many as 40 charter schools over five years, which would be held to the same teacher certification and performance requirements as standard public schoos, but exempt from some laws and district policies. The per-pupil allotment from the state would bo to the charter school.

This is grass-roots democracy?

Friday’s deadline for turning in initiatives demonstrated clearly that letting voters approve legislation at the ballot box might still be an exercise of government of the people, but getting a measure on the ballot is all about money.
Of some 55 proposals that were filed this year and a half-dozen or so that made at some level of effort to gather signatures, only two reached the deadline with enough names to make the ballot. Both relied heavily on large infusions of cash from businesses or wealthy donors to pay people to collect those names. ..

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Charter school initiative to turn in signatures

OLYMPIA — Supporters of a ballot initiative that would allow public school districts to create charter schools will turn in signatures Friday morning.

The Secretary of State's office said this morning the campaign for Initiative 1240 will deliver their petitions to the Elections Division office at 9 a.m. Friday is the last day to turn in signatures for ballot initiatives.

Voters would be asked to approve a proposal similar to one that was introduced with much fanfare in the past legislative session, but never came up for a vote. It would allow the state to form as many as 40 charter schools over the next five years that would be operated as nonprofits with the same academic standards as other public schools but exempt from some regulations on curriculum and budget.

Supporters filed the initiative in May, and after it was reviewed by the attorney general's office and went through court challenges by both sides on the ballot title, signature gathering didn't begin until mid June. They will need about 242,000 valid signatures from registered voters to qualify for the Nov. 6 ballot.

Charter school initiative filed

OLYMPIA — An initiative that would allow the state to form as many as 40 charter schools over the next five years was filed today with the Secretary of State in an effort to get the proposal on the November ballot.

They would be “public charters” which mean they'd be non-profits with the same academic standards as other public schools, but would be exempt from some regulations on curriculum and budget.

The League of Education Voters, which filed the proposal, and its allies have less than two months to gather the 241,153 valid signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. A short time span for most campaigns, although Costco managed to get enough signatures for its “get the state out of the liquor business” initiative in less time last year.

Mark Funk, a campaign spokesman, said the group would use both volunteer and paid-signature collectors to get enough signatures in the short time available. The campaign hasn't raised any money yet, but expects to get contributions from people and groups who have long supported that aspect of education reform, and most money will likely come from individual rather than corporate sources, Funk said.

Washington voters rejected charter schools in 2004, and the Legislature has considered but not passed them since then. Legislation similar to the initiative was introduced with fanfare early in the last legislative session with bipartisan sponsors, but it met with strong opposition from Gov. Chris Gregoire and legislative leaders in both chambers, and eventually died.

Text of the initiative can be found here.

WA Lege Day 4: Fight ahead over charter schools?

OLYMPIA – A bipartisan group of legislators, backed by business and education reform groups, announced a push Thursday for charter schools and new teacher evaluations.
The Washington Education Association immediately questioned where the money would come from for charter schools and how the evaluation systems would be used.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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