No charters in Washington state

Washington state’s charter school initiative was clobbered at the polls; state voters also rejected a tax hike to raise more money for state schools. Stefan Sharkansky is happy voters retained the state superintendent, who survived a union attack.

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Comments

  1. It’s disappointing to me to see the Charter School initiative in Washington go down to defeat. Most of us on this page know the benefits of charter schools, so I won’t bother rehashing the arguments in support of them. What surprises me time and time again is how little criticism the NEA and their state counterparts get for their destructive policies toward schools. Why would anyone oppose school choice? The NEA is simply about money and power. It is within their rights to do what they do, it is just hard for me to believe that we as a society let them get away with it.

    Regarding the linked article, there is a passage from the Washington newspaper lamenting the lack of “early start options” for pre-school children. I have an idea for an “early start” on education. How about parents putting in some time teaching their kids. My kids aren’t geniuses, but I guarantee that all three of them will be able to read at a 1st grade level by the time they enter kindergarten. It is simply a matter of spending some time everyday teaching them to read.

    Why can’t everyone do this? I understand that some kids grow up in environments with no educational values, and that we need to give them a fair chance at an education. However, the solution isn’t a government run program. This problem will be solved with community activism supported by caring volunteers.

  2. There’s an ebb and flow to politics. It’s unfortunate that the charter law lost in Washington but anything that looks like a new, government program has an uphill fight. The assumption is of more taxes and more government.

    Once the understanding of charters becomes more widespread it’ll be tougher to defeat them. As charters inevitably creep into the news from other states, they’ll lose their patina of novelty and the misrepresentations of the NEA will look more and more like the charicatures they are.

    Ultimately, the higher profile that the NEA has to project to fight charters will undermine their credibility more quickly then if they took a more conciliatory stance. On the other hand, then they’d be cutting their own throats with the membership. Scylla and Charybdis.

  3. Nicely put, Allen. I still wonder how the NEA has such a high percentage of membership amongst the teachers. Are all teachers leftists, or are they just going with the flow? My teacher certification courses were definately laced with a left-wing agenda, and perhaps that is enough to influence new teachers. In addition, my wife faced a lot of pressure to join the teachers union when she worked at a middle school in my local area.

    The NEA is unabashedly (sp?) liberal, and its popularity still mystifies me.

  4. Thanks Steve.

    I still wonder how the NEA has such a high percentage of membership amongst the teachers.

    I don’t think it’s that much of a mystery.

    Unions promise, and to a significant extent deliver, higher pay and better job security. That’s a pretty good draw. Also, some states are closed shop. You have to join.

    If you’re a teacher, why wouldn’t you want more money and security? Obviously, you would and I don’t really have much of a beef with self-interest. After all, what would be the point?

    Sooner or later though, the union’s demands and the goals of the organization, the schools, are going to come into conflict.

    Despite union rhetoric to the contrary the duty of the union is to its members. Don’t deliver on your promises and your members will desert you. Self-interest cuts both ways and any savvy union official understands that without having to think about it. So the union always puts the interests of its members ahead of the interests of society at large or the education process.

    You can rail against that but all you’re doing is displaying a misunderstanding of the purpose and limitations of a union. Don’t expect the UAW to go out on strike for higher car-buyer satisfaction and don’t expect a teacher’s union to go on strike for higher education standards.

    Are all teachers leftists, or are they just going with the flow?

    Some of the former, more of the latter.

    I think the cheap thrill of moral and intellectual superiority offered by the left may exert a special pull for teachers but not to an overwhelming degree. I’ve read some stuff that suggests that teachers are somewhat more left-wing then society in general but not to anywhere near the extent suggested by the political positions taken by the NEA.

  5. I still wonder how the NEA has such a high percentage of membership amongst the teachers

    Washington public schools are a closed shop. Charter school teachers have the option to form bargaining units, but it’s not mandatory. That’s the whole issue in a nutshell.

    This is the 3rd time that a charter school initiative has been on the state ballot and the score is 0 for 3. Why? I think the argument for charter schools is too subtle to grab the attention of enough voters and it’s always easier to get somebody to vote NO against something they don’t have the time to understand than it is to get them to vote YES. The opposition comes from an entrenched and well-organized interest group.

    Sadly, the issue is probably dead in this state for a long time to come. Education reform here will have to come in a different form.

  6. Mike in Texas says:

    I’ve read some stuff that suggests that teachers are somewhat more left-wing then society in general but not to anywhere near the extent suggested by the political positions taken by the NEA.

    Actually, except in regards to education issues, I’m quite conservative in my views. Most of the teachers I know are also. I have noticed that elementary school teachers such as myself seem to be more conservative while high school teachers seem to be less so. This is just based on my own observations.