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Opponents argue that studies show that many charter schools have done poorly; that trimming red tape for a few schools should be replaced by eliminating the same red tape for all schools; and that the non-profit corporations in charge of charter schools would not be adequately supervised by taxpayers. And they contend charter schools would siphon money and good students away from public schools.
"It's going to draw attention from bigger problems. It gives you a false sense of security that you've done something," Lindquist says. Inslee also doesn't like the idea of charter schools, saying that there is already provision for "innovation schools" in current contracts. (Few have been enacted, however.)
Merit-based and performance-based pay were also high-profile controversies in the spring, but they have been lost in the campaign so far. McKenna supports the idea of linking pay to meeting performance goals in education. Inslee is luke-warm, though he bucks the WEA line a bit by favoring some links between student performance and teacher evaluations and promotions and layoffs. Inslee likes the idea of extra pay for master teachers who mentor other teachers.
Lindquist argues that studies have not shown a correlation between merit pay and better student performances, and that merit pay sets up teachers competing with each other for finite pools of money. "Teaching kids is a team sport," she says.
Running for governor on education issues is, by contrast, definitely a contact sport. Whether it heats up in the general election will depend on polling and on how well Inslee continues to diffuse the issue. McKenna is staking his appeal to independents and soft Democrats on education issues, sounding the reform bell. Inslee wants to blur the differences, hold fast his teachers' union base, and shift the topic to his plans for an innovation economy.
Judging by the primary results at least, the Inslee tactic seems to be working.
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