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    Morning Fizz: $7 million committed to the charters cause?

    Caffeinated news & gossip featuring: Bill and Melinda Gates and charter schools; Cory Booker and the Washington State Democrats; Laura Ruderman; and Greg Nickels.
    Corey Booker, left, talks with reporters at an event with Story Corps founder Dave Isay.

    Corey Booker, left, talks with reporters at an event with Story Corps founder Dave Isay. Courtesy of WBGO/Flickr

    Laura Ruderman

    Laura Ruderman Ruderman campaign

    Former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels talks to Crosscut writers and editors.

    Former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels talks to Crosscut writers and editors. Berit Anderson/Crosscut

    1. Jolt pooh-poohed the charter schools initiative Tuesday—it seems a bit late in the game to just be getting your signature gathering effort underway for the July 6 deadline (they'll need 241,000 valid signatures).

    But a source tells Fizz that the campaign already believes it has $7 million in commitments toward supporting their cause, including $4 million from Bill and Melinda Gates and $1 million from Nick Hanauer, the local investor, big Democratic donor, and ed reform advocate who caused a flap earlier this year by bad mouthing Jay Inslee over education issues. (Note: We'd originally that it was the Gates Foundation but we now understand.)

    Speaking of Jay Inslee, if the charter initiative does go forward, watch for the anti-charters Washington Education Association, the teachers' union, to match the charter camp in spending, which will drain a traditional source of money away from the Democrats in the governor's race.

    2. The King County Democrats gave their sole endorsement to former state Rep. Laura Ruderman last night in the crowded field of Democrats running in the new 1st Congressional District. You'll remember that the group's endorsement committee punted on the issue, after only considering Ruderman's main rivals, former state Department of Revenue Director Suzan DelBene and netroots star Darcy Burner.

    But put to the full body, Ruderman won last night with a 33-11 vote over DelBene.

    3. Speaking of endorsements, former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is having trouble getting Seattle Democrats to back his bid for Washington Secretary of State against fellow Democrat Kathleen Drew, a former Gov. Chris Gregoire aide from Olympia. So far, four of the six Seattle districts — including the 11th, the 43rd, and the 37th, and the 34th (Nickels' home district in West Seattle) have gone with Drew.

    4. Fizz has a call in to Washington State Democratic Pary Chair Dwight Pelz to see how he feels now about what once appeared to be quite a coup; the keynote speaker at the June 1 state Democratic convention is Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

    The mythical New Jersey Democrat, who literally saved a woman from a burning building earlier this year, tweaked Democrats on Meet the Press this week, by defending Mitt Romney's former equity firm Bain Capital against a pro-Obama attack ad on the firm.

    Booker told Meet the Press:

    I have to just say, from a very personal level, I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity. To me, it’s just we’re getting to a ridiculous point in America, especially that I know I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses. And this to me, I’m very uncomfortable with.

    Erica C. Barnett was the news editor for Seattle's online news site, PubliCola, where she covered city hall, transportation, land use, and state politics. She had also been the news editor and city hall columnist for The Stranger. In 2007, the King County Municipal League named Erica its Government Affairs Reporter of the year. She can be reached at erica.barnett@crosscut.com.

    Award-winning journalist Josh Feit founded and edited the online news site PubliCola, where he also did double duty as the state house reporter, covering the legislature in Olympia. Before that, for nine years, he was the news editor and political columnist at Seattle's alt-weekly, The Stranger. He can be reached at josh.feit@crosscut.com.

    Like what you just read? Support high quality local journalism. Become a member of Crosscut today!


    Posted Wed, May 23, 9:05 a.m. Inappropriate

    1. Maybe the teachers' union should raise dues to fund the multiple Democratic Party defenses/candidates/agendas.

    3. Greg Nickels is looking Wayne Cody-esque. He's an even bigger environmentalist than he was as Mayor.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 9:34 a.m. Inappropriate

    For the record, opposition to charters is not limited to the teacher's unions. I would love it if Crosscut and other organizations that cover education issues in Olympia would acknowledge this fact and start talking to organizations like Parents Across America. Contact us any time. http://paatacoma.org

    Posted Wed, May 23, 11:58 p.m. Inappropriate

    Crosscut is partially funded by the Gates Foundation, so not likely.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 10:01 a.m. Inappropriate

    Wow. Too bad they don't have $7 million to improve education for students.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 10:16 a.m. Inappropriate

    Yeah no kidding. That would go a long way toward buying textbooks, or those "back to school kits" that the Seattle Times puts together for poor kids.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 10:28 a.m. Inappropriate

    Josh Feit (not Erica): Remember that Hanauer was a big backer/donor to 1098, the high-earners' income tax; the money in that measure was set aside for education.

    Posted Wed, May 23, 10:40 a.m. Inappropriate

    That's great, but more recently he's been pushing for magical solutions like charter schools. This fight is a huge distraction from true reforms that would really make a difference for kids, like universal pre-k and other early childhood education programs. If he could put even half the energy and money and he's poured into pushing for charter schools into that effort, maybe we'd finally get somewhere.

    In Tacoma, we already have innovative programs that work very much like charters (but with full public ownership and oversight), what we are lacking is kids who come to school fed, safe, happy, and ready to learn. They don't care about this debate, and I wish I didn't have to, either.

    Posted Wed, May 23, 11:17 a.m. Inappropriate

    Colleges are rebelling against the high cost of textbooks, with professors putting together their own material. Publishers make a few minor updates and then sell the newest edition for more than $100 per book. K-12 schools are stuck with old textbooks and lend them to the students for the school year. The problem is that it's difficult for students to lug all those books home and then they don't end up using the textbooks at home. It might be cheaper to put textbooks on a tablet device, and some colleges are moving in that direction.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 11:49 a.m. Inappropriate

    Washington State passed legislation this session to create an open source curriculum. It will be interesting to see how that works out.

    Posted Thu, May 24, 12:01 a.m. Inappropriate

    Part of the problem is that professors are the ones who are writing those textbooks, and every time they do a minor update, they get a cut of the revised book.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 10:05 a.m. Inappropriate

    I did predict yesterday that big money would be thrown at the charter effort. What it will take is educating voters and I still believe if voters understand what they will and will not get, they will say no again. Also, for an education measure, I hope this kind of money being spent will give people pause about why that might be.

    Also, to echo Tacoma Mama, there are plenty of other people who oppose charters for all sorts of reasons and have no association with the teachers union. Crosscut should make sure to NOT make this just about charters versus the union. It is much more nuanced than that.

    I've taken a look at the initiative and it's pretty much the charter bill introduced in the Legislature. However there are some tweaks that are game-changers (and not in a good way).

    Again, quite the gamble on the part of pro-charter folks.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 10:33 p.m. Inappropriate

    If the proponents of charters can demonstrate that they'll save money, it'll be a slam-dunk victory.


    Posted Sun, May 27, 7:51 a.m. Inappropriate

    I see a lot of efforts to make things bigger, faster, or cheaper. I don't much care about those. I'm really interested in making things better.

    So who cares if charter schools are cheaper, I only care if they are better.

    As it turns out, they are neither cheaper nor better. They aren't cheaper because they get all of the funding of any other public school plus they need an additional new bureaucracy. National studies show that they aren't better either. A lot of them (about 46%) are essentially equivalent in quality to public schools. A few (17%) have better results, but more than twice as many (37%) have worse results than public schools.

    Source: Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO)
    Stanford University http://credo.stanford.edu/reports/MULTIPLE_CHOICE_CREDO.pdf


    Posted Wed, May 23, 11:02 a.m. Inappropriate

    "The mythical New Jersey Democrat"

    I'm pretty sure I saw him on TV the other night, or is this like a Tony Clifton thing where Mayor Cory Booker is really a character being played by Tracy Morgan?


    Posted Wed, May 23, 11:28 a.m. Inappropriate

    If Rep. Frank Pallone or State Sen. Richard Codey run against Booker in the primary for NJ governor, either of them will win against Booker. Booker is noted for being a clean politician in Newark and for trying to improve a poverty area, but he does not have a statewide following. It would have been better to invite Pallone from NJ because he is the messaging and framing expert nationally and is very involved in the health care issue. Intellectually, Rep. Rush Holt is more highly rated than Booker. Holt is affiliated with Princeton Univerity and Pallone is more associated with Rutgers, so choose your university.

    But on education, consider the position Booker inherited. More than 15 years before he took office, the Newark public schools failed and were taken over by the state. He is the mayor, but now the schools are under the control of Christie. Booker has no choice other than to get money from Oprah and private foundations because Christie's agenda involves things like closing public libraries. (Even NJ Republican Christine Whitman criticized Christie and said that the state of NJ needs more revenue.)


    Posted Wed, May 23, 1:05 p.m. Inappropriate

    Shannon Champion of Stand was just on KUOW discussing the charter initiative. It was a pretty funny interview because she didn't directly answer any question.

    The host, Ross Reynolds, pressed her on Erica's reporting about the money and she hedged. Apparently, they don't want to go public with this yet.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 10:07 p.m. Inappropriate

    Regarding #3, it's hard to get an endorsement if you don't even show up to ask.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 10:23 p.m. Inappropriate

    I am favorable toward charters. The Seattle schools are going to ask for a $1 billion property tax levy, which I will oppose and which I predict will fail badly. The "progressives" have completely messed up the schools, so it's time for a different approach.


    Posted Sun, May 27, 8 a.m. Inappropriate

    I think NotFan has a lot to tell us. I'd like to hear more about these ideas.

    Which "progressives" completely messed up the schools? - Can you name names or was it done by a prevailing culture rather than any individual efforts?

    How did they do it? - Was it by lowering standards for students? Was it through changes in the curriculum?

    What makes you think that the schools are completely messed up? - Are you thinking specifically about the graduation rates? The number of students who reach college needing remedial classes? Are you thinking more about financial mismanagement?

    What would the schools be like if they were not messed up? - Is there a graduation rate that would be good enough or some evidence of competent management that they should strive for?

    Was there a time, before the "progressives" messed up the schools, when they were not messed up? - When was that? What were things like then?

    I'm sincerely interested in knowing more about NotFan's perspective on public education.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 10:38 p.m. Inappropriate

    No, the district will be asking for between $600-700M for the capital levy and about $450M for the operations levy (because our state doesn't fully fund education). I just offer this correction because the district is not asking for $1B just for capital facilities.

    The last Board was made up of "professionals" not progressives. As well, we had a "professional" superintendent but that didn't work out.

    If this charter initiative passes, charters in a district get their share of levy dollars. So defeat a levy but the charters lose as well.


    Posted Wed, May 23, 11:55 p.m. Inappropriate

    I don't care how much is for capital and how much is for ops. I'm voting "No." I do it as someone with a very long history of voting "yes" for education. Seattle is such a mess that I am voting "No" on the levy. I am not persuadable on it.

    The only question is whether I support charters or not. There, I'll consider the pros and cons. But not on the levy. No way on that, period. You've had too many chances, and keep failing.


    Posted Thu, May 24, 12:05 a.m. Inappropriate

    No one has asked what you will do, NotFan.


    Posted Thu, May 24, 1:52 p.m. Inappropriate

    True enough, sarah90. And as long as the "progressives" keep talking only to themselves, they're going to have a harder and harder time of it in politics. Have you noticed what's happening in Wisconsin? Walker's going to win his recall election by a bigger margin than his original election.

    So keep talking only to yourselves, "progressives." See where that gets ya. Oh, and when you have that urge to talk to anyone else, make sure you tell them how stupid they are. That's a "progressive" tactic that works sooooo well.


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