Charter Schools are a Bad Idea

Washington state voters are getting ready to go the polls over an issue they’ve voted down twice in recent years: the issue of charter schools.
The legislature, in their infinite wisdom – and entirely against the will of the people – voted in a bill last session that would authorize charter schools (ESSHB 2295).
Alarmed at this sneaky circumvention, charter school foes circulated petitions collecting over 150,000 signatures and were able to get Initiative 55 certified and on the ballot. Now Washington voters have what will hopefully be the final time to reject charter schools.
So why are charter schools bad?
Because basically, they don’t work. Recent studies by the US Department of Education found charter school students lagging in reading and math scores.
Another example is that in 1999-2000, 80% of the children in Texas public schools passed the Texas academic achievement tests while only 37% of charter school students passed the same test. In a 2002 study by the Texas Education Agency, it also found the dropout rate for charter schools was significantly higher – 17.7% compared to 6.2% for all other public schools.
Then in another study recently released by Duke University, they found that students in North Carolina’s charter schools would have been better off if they had stayed in their traditional public school. http://www.dukenews.duke.edu/news/charter_0804.html
There’s been a lot of speculation over the causes of the charter school’s poor performance.
Many attribute the lower test scores to the fact that charter schools operate with less oversight and supervision than traditional public schools – they’re not held accountable like public schools. And then financial problems and mismanagement have been big issues for charter schools and may well have probably played a part in the poor performance.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s more than enough evidence to turn me off from charter schools.
But even so, there are several other provisions in the proposed Washington law that give me different, more pressing problems.
The first is that from the way the proposed law is set up, it strongly appears that the hidden agenda for charter schools is to circumvent unions.
One provision makes it illegal for a charter school bargaining unit to be part of a local school district bargaining unit for five years – even if the employees were to vote unanimously in favor of that representation.
Another provision states that in “conversion” charter schools – a former public school that is proposed to be converted to a charter school – the new charter school board may request “variances” from the old school district collective bargaining agreement to address “needs that are specific to the charter school.”
Combine that with the fact that there’s a provision that would allow the charter schools to use non-certificated teachers – as long as they’re generally supervised by a certificated person.
So what’s this all add up to?
I don’t know about you, but this tells me that the plan is for schools that use lower-paid, non-union, and quite possibly unqualified teachers – probably as a means to cut costs and “more effectively use your tax dollars.” I find this very disturbing.
It’s hard enough to find qualified teachers right now – the starting salary in Washington state for teachers fresh out of college is only a little over $30,000 a year. Spend that same four years in college studying for a computer science degree, and your average starting pay jumps up to $49,000. Or for a chemical engineering degree, $52,000. Or accounting $42,000 a year. Or for another example, with nursing it jumps to $38,000 a year.
Teacher’s pay is already at the bottom.
If you cut their pay more – which would almost certainly happen as a result of limiting the charter teachers bargaining rights – then the situation would become almost impossible.
What kind of “cut-rate” teachers would work for less money than they’re already getting? Perhaps the charters figure to hire illegal aliens as aides, janitors and secretaries to save even more dollars? Hey, it works for Wal-Mart. Maybe they’ll trim a few dollars out of the school lunch budgets, too?
It’s no wonder the test scores are down!
Clearly, charter schools are a very bad idea.
Our children are our future. Let’s not cut corners on their education.
I hope everyone votes to reject referendum 55.

Elections Postponed Indefinitely Because of Terror Attack

Vice President Cheney Urges Calm
Washington, DC (AP) – Following yesterday’s terrorist attacks, President Bush issued an executive order postponing tomorrow’s national elections.
“We have been dealt a devastating blow, and we must now draw together on this terrible day of infamy, and mourn those who have fallen,” said Vice President Cheney. “But we cannot allow these attacks to continue. We have new information that the same terrorists plan to set off suicide bombs in polling places tomorrow, so in order to protect citizens of this great nation, we’ve determined it is in the best interests of our nation if we indefinitely postpone the elections. President Bush signed that executive order to that effect early this morning.”
The toll for yesterday’s attacks now stands at 25 confirmed dead and seven missing. The attacks were on the Washington offices of the US Election Assistance Commission, and the corporate headquarters of Diebold Inc., in Canton, Ohio.
The number of wounded from the two attacks is reported at fifteen.
President Bush was unavailable for comment.
According to reliable sources, Senator John Kerry and his running mate Senator John Edwards were whisked away by Secret Services agents immediately following the news of the attacks and since have remained at an undisclosed, secure location.
The sources state it is believed that there is a credible threat towards the candidate’s lives.
There have been unsubstantiated reports that the true intent of the attack on Diebold was the theft of software and code that is used in many electronic voting machines, and that the explosion and fire were set to cover the tracks of the theft.
Diebold officials had no comment.
Department of Homeland Security has left the terror alert level at red, or severe. According to Secretary Tom Ridge, “We have evidence to suggest that the terrorists will strike again, so we ask all citizens to be extremely vigilant.” He went on to say that citizens are warned to watch for suspicious people who are “praying fervently” or who seem to be whispering to someone. There were no specific targets mentioned, outside of the polling places.
When asked how long the election would be delayed, Vice President Cheney had no comment. Nor would he comment on rumors of a massive movement of US troops across the border from Iraq into Iran.
Vice President Cheney concluded in his press conference, “Everyone should stay calm and this will pass over. We are in control.”

Osama bin Laden Captured On Halloween Eve!

AP – Islamabad, October 31, 2004. American and Pakistani forces closed in on Al Qaeda terrorists hiding outside Khandahar near the Pakistani border today, and after a protracted battle, captured the illusive head of the Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden.
Pakistani officials said bin Laden surrendered after a ten-hour battle pitting American Delta Force commandos and Pakistani Rangers against a large group of Al Qaeda rebels found hiding in a maze of caves in the mountains outside Khandahar.
US Army spokesperson, Col. Frank Magni, of the 17th Public Affairs Detachment told reporters that bin Laden was badly wounded in the firefight which lasted all night. It was only after bin Laden’s entire headquarters unit had been killed that he surrendered to the Delta Force commandos, early Sunday morning. With him was his top lieutenant, Ayman Al Zawahri, who reportedly was killed early in the siege.
Pakistani sources said bin Laden’s wounds were not life-threatening. He was taken by plane to an undisclosed US military base possibly in the Philippines for medical attention.
The ten-hour firefight concluded with bin Laden’s surrender, and over twenty-five Al Qaeda were taken prisoner, some said to be high-ranking officials.
Col. Magni said three American and twenty-eight Pakistani soldiers were killed in the exchange. Al Qaeda casualties are said to number around 100.
American and Pakistani forces were said to be acting on a tip that came from a source close to bin Laden, who was arrested late Friday night.
“This is a great day for Afghanistan, and a great day for the world,” said Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Karzai went on to say that he was declaring a national holiday for Afghanistan, and encouraged all Afghani’s to celebrate the victory.
President Bush, when asked to comment, said, “We are winning the war on terrorism, and this is solid proof. I hope this puts to rest any questions about who should lead this country for the next four years.”
Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry’s campaign aides had no official comment at press time.

George Nethercutt Is A Lying Sack of [expletive deleted].

It never fails to amaze me how politicians can manipulate the truth. But George Nethercutt stands out way above the rest.
This is a man who ran a campaign to unseat Tom Foley based on one single premise: that Foley was a Washington DC insider. Nethercutt‘s platform was that people who were elected to multiple terms in office always ended up tainted, and that the only way to correct this problem that was by installing term limits.
Nethercutt told us he would be a fresh face on the scene, a person not tainted by previous political experience. He’d do his two terms and then leave.
Well, oops…
By golly it didn’t quite end up that way. Why?
Because when old George had finished his second term, he told us, “Well, I changed my mind. Maybe it’s okay to serve more than two terms. Or I at least it’s okay for me!” And good old George ran again.
He didn’t do all of this for himself, mind you. He was very unselfish. He ran for his third term because it was the best thing to do for the really neat people in Spokane that he so wonderfully represents. It was all strictly for good of the people.
Well golly gee folks.
George Nethercutt Is A Lying Sack of [expletive deleted].
And now we have him in a race with Patty Murray, and there’s the Osama bin Laden commercial. We see Patty Murray (taken out of context) saying how the Muslim people like bin Laden because he does good things for them, like building schools and so on.
And because Murray says this, the Nethercutt add suggests very strongly that Murray likes bin laden and is a traitor, on and on and on…
George Nethercutt Is A Lying Sack of [expletive deleted].
What Murray said is absolutely true – bin Laden is viewed as a hero to much of the Muslim world. But her remarks were taken completely out of context and to use that and try to make it look like Murray is a friend of bin Laden and soft on terrorism is very much a lie – Nethercutt is trading on peoples fears of terrorism and 911to make Murray look bad – and this should be actionable in court.
If I were Murray, I’d be filing a lawsuit against Nethercutt right now. Sounds like libel to me. I’d be asking for big damages.
This whole thing is like having a tape of someone talking about pre-Second World War Germany, where they’re saying how Hitler was loved by the German people, because he reunited their country in the wake of WW I and brought them of the depression (which was true), and then, turning that around and calling the person a Nazi.
It’s asinine. Completely and unequivocally.
George Nethercutt Is A Lying Sack of [expletive deleted].
How anyone could ever think of voting for a man who would stoop that low is beyond me.
He ought to be barred from running for public office for the rest of his miserable life.