The Poky Little Pundit

NO ON I-1240! (yes the shouty all caps are necessary).


Hands up if you are bored of the election. Yeah, me too. And I don’t want to be just another voice shouting into the wind – but I’m gonna be anyway because if even one of you reads this and votes no on I-1240, I have served a purpose. I found out just yesterday that MY OWN MOTHER voted yes on this initiative, which led me to write this post.

If it is true that “we all love teachers,” as Bob Schieffer said in last Monday’s debate, pay them some respect now by listening to them: “The state’s entire education community — the Washington PTA; the associations that represent principals, superintendents, and school board members; and the teachers’ union — has united in opposition to I-1240,” Mari Taylor wrote in a Seattle Times Op-Ed. Voting yes is like giving the finger (or two, if you are British) to every teacher you ever had.

Don’t be drawn in by the cute little apple logo! This is NOT a solution for our public schools.

Check out the brightly colored, attractive document shown on the left. You received it in the mail because Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos (who have possibly never set foot in a public school) have contributed millions of dollars to fund the campaign to instate charter schools in Washington state, though three times voters have rejected these initiatives. Don’t be drawn in by the pretty pictures! Throw it out NOW and vote no on I-1240. I’ll make this as simple and as painless as possible:

1)   Charter schools perform, on average, worse than state schools. We’ve heard this number time and time again. But one more time, just for good measure:

According to a Stanford University study, 17% of charter schools do substantially better. But 37% do worse! 

There’s NO concrete evidence that charter schools improve our children’s education. None. This should be the only evidence you need. But for those compulsive reader types, here’s two more reasons:

2)   By diverting money away from state schools and into an unknown quantity, charter schools jeopardize the education already taking place in current public schools. All schools have fixed costs. And if we’ve got money to make whole new schools, surely we have money to revitalize our current failing ones? Rather than re-packaging the same product, how about we take the money that would be used to make a whole new school and fund programs in the old one?

3) Charter schools, though funded by public money, will be privately run. It will authorize out-of-state, private operators to take charge of Washington state children’s education, with no input from voters and virtually no accountability.

Many of you who operate outside the public school arena might be thinking: Well, what is the answer? My local school is terrible. What can a parent do? Other than the obvious (pay more taxes), invest in your own public school. Volunteer your time. Be a better parent. Support teachers in whatever way you can and stop blaming us for the demise of education (a bit like blaming soldiers for the prevalence of war).

One of the most annoying parts about being a teacher (after terrible pay and grading) is that everyone considers themselves an expert in the field because they, like, had one once. Most voters have no idea what is going on inside public schools, so you will have to rely on people like me who have spent our entire lives in them: Vote no on I-1240.

(Did I change your mind, Mom??)


3 thoughts on “NO ON I-1240! (yes the shouty all caps are necessary).

  1. I will also be voting no, but I’m not entirely persuaded by the reasons you give. You can read that Stanford study to say 37 percent of charter schools do worse–or to say that 63 percent are as good or better than comparable public schools. The question isn’t whether a school is public or charter, but what its approach to teaching and learning is. The charter schools that don’t do better are the ones that don’t try anything different from what public schools are already doing. Of course these schools don’t do better! But this isn’t because of any inherent qualities of charter schools. Charter schools that use innovative teaching methods do well, and those that repeat the methods used in the bad public schools they are meant to replace don’t do well, unsurprisingly.

    The problems I see with this initiative are a little different. First, it allows a school to be converted to a charter with just a simple majority vote of parents. I think it takes a lot more buy-in than one half to effect any kind of meaningful change. Also, there’s no provision to turn a charter school back into a public school.

    • Thanks, Alan! I hadn’t read about converting schools to charters (or back again) with a simple majority vote – where did you read that? I’d love to share that with others.

  2. Here you go:

    It sounds like the proponents of the initiative dispute this somewhat, but it’s definitely a possibility.


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