A remarkable ad from the John Kasich presidential campaign, aimed at Donald Trump.Share on Facebook
From a statement by the audits division of the Oregon Secretary of State’s office, about a look into just how open the state’s public records are.
While Oregon agencies follow the public records law for most public records requests, more needs to be done to address the complex, non-routine requests that agencies receive, according to an audit released today by the Secretary of State’s office.
Auditors examined nine state agencies of varying sizes and missions to determine how agencies are both responding to public records requests and retaining their public records. Their findings are outlined in the audit report released today, entitled: “State Agencies Respond Well to Routine Public Records Requests, but Struggle with Complex Requests and Emerging Technologies.”
The audit found that most public records requests agencies receive are simple and can be fulfilled within just a couple weeks, often at little or no cost. But agencies struggle to respond to the occasional complex request, leading at times to delays, high fees, and the perception that agencies are using these tactics to block the release of public information.
The audit recommends that policymakers consider creating a neutral third party, such as an ombudsman position, to serve as an intermediary between the public and state agencies on complex records requests. Third-party mediation services between agencies and requesters have been employed successfully in other states to help protect confidential information and ensure public access to state information.
“The public and the press have a right to see how their government operates to serve Oregonians,” said Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins. “This audit demonstrates that state agencies need to improve consistency and develop strategies to better respond to public records requests of all sizes. We must improve the public’s trust in Oregon government.”
Agencies are also struggling to keep up with the latest communication technologies, such as social media, text and instant messages, and the use of personal devices or personal email accounts. Very few agencies examined have policies in place to specifically dictate how these technologies should be used in the context of public records, and how to retain the data.
Some of these issues stem back to how agencies retain their public records. The audit found that agencies are keeping too many records past the required retention schedule, resulting in a significant volume of public records that are difficult for agencies to efficiently manage.
“Public employees want to be good stewards of state information,” said Secretary Atkins. “Given the rapidly changing ways we use technology to conduct state business, it is clear we have work to do to maintain transparency and accountability to Oregonians.”
The audit also found variation among agencies in the fees charged for public records requests and the timeline in responding to them. The audit has recommended that the Department of Administrative Services take the lead in establishing guidance regarding fees and rates for the cost of public records requests. Auditors further recommended agencies establish timeliness goals for responding to records requests, and hold themselves accountable to those goals.
Audit findings further touched on a number of related issues, including exemptions in the law and how agencies can benefit from technology to be more transparent and accountable.
The audit released today was in response to Senate Bill 9 from the 2015 Session, legislation requested by Governor Kate Brown. Read the full audit on the Secretary of State website or an executive summary on the Audits Division blog.Share on Facebook
From a Facebook post by retired Idaho Judge Duff McKee.
One of the featured commentaries in Saturday’s Statesman had me underlining phrases and chortling to myself with unexpected satisfaction. Ed Lotterman, the economist and sometime columnist from St Paul, wrote to extoll the little known but widely respected economist Professor John Taylor, of Stanford University.
But what caught my attention was the skewering Lotterman gave along the way to supply-side economics. I thought to myself, here at last may be a clear answer to the clown car’s insistence that tax rates be cut across the board.
Without getting too far into the weeds, economic theory can be divided into two schools: Keynesian theory as developed by John Maynard Keynes in the middle 1930s, and the classic view, such as the theories of Alfred Marshall as published in 1890 and founded upon the works of John Stuart Mill (middle 1800’s) and Adam Smith (late 1700’s), among others. Keynesian theory can be construed as centered on the consumer or demand side of the equation, and is focused on the short run. Classic theory, such as Marshallian economics, is more concerned with the production side of the equation, and takes a longer view.
Keynes’ views are still at the center of most modern thinkers. He thought consumers and their demands were the key economic drivers of the economy, and that government action was the fastest, most effective and therefore best way to influence these interests in the short run. Deficit spending, control of money and aggressive tax policy were simply tools in the bag to help regulate and smooth out bumps in the road. The assumption here is that periods of economic adjustment should be anticipated and wherever possible ameliorated by prompt action of the government. Most Democrats adhere to some form of modernized Keynesian theory.
The classical economists, like Marshall, reckoned that the fundamental axis of any economy consists of wants and needs, which are in constant flux and are constantly seeking equilibrium. Marshall thought that in the long run, these forces would naturally adjust to maintain an equilibrium if left alone. Neither taxes nor the supply of money should be manipulated for anything but short term effects, with a long run objective of permitting market forces to control over artificial restraints. Periods of economic adjustment should be tolerated with minimum levels of government interference. Republicans have traditionally favored some variant of the classical view.
The “supply-side theory” is an extension of the classical thought brought to light during the Reagan years, and advanced today by the extreme right edge. It takes the premise of the classical view of economics a significant step further to the right in three areas: (1) the elimination of government restraints to production; (2) elimination of government regulation of the flow and quantity of money (The extreme view here is for a return to the gold standard); and (3) cut tax rates for all, even if such is to levels below that required to generate revenue for current needs. The tacit assumption here is that periods of economic adjustment should be tolerated with no interference from the government.
Lotterman maintains that supply-side economics has been completely debunked by most economists, including the more distinguished of those from the right, like Professor Taylor. He observes that in his 34 years of teaching (which would reach back to the edge of the “trickle down” economy days of Ronald Reagan) he has not run across a single textbook that asserts supply-side economics as truth.
On the specific question of tax policy, the plain facts are that if tax rates are cut to a level below that required to maintain the government, the short term effect will be that revenue will decline and the deficits will increase. Without further cuts to spending, which even the Republicans concede would be Draconian, Keynesian theory teaches that where such is imposed in time of economic growth, the extra stimulus is artificial and unnecessary and becomes inflationary.
The upshot of it all is that measured by today’s present level of increasing growth, any artificial tax reduction would increase deficits without any commensurate benefit in the short run, and if maintained into the long run, such will eventually destabilize the economy.
This means the answer to the question on clown car’s pronouncement of tax policy is that in the short run, we lose, and in the long run its all nonsense. Period. Class dismissed.
From an open letter by Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick:
Across the country, retail firms are using new scheduling technology to squeeze every last dollar out of their workers—at enormous cost.
With constant, last-minute schedule changes and shift combinations that allow less than 7 hours of sleep, it’s throwing low-income parents into lives of perpetual crisis, as they struggle to arrange for childcare, plan their lives, and stay healthy. In the Oregonian, Steve Duin says it’s turning “low-income parents into the Walking Dead.”
I call it abusive scheduling, and it has to stop.
One of the proudest moments of my service on the City Council was our unanimous vote to guarantee some paid sick leave to every employee in Portland. We provided the leadership the state of Oregon needed on that day, and I want to do it again for this pressing issue.
We can solve this problem. One example we could use was set by the City of San Francisco, where they passed a law that requires workers to be given at least two weeks’ notice of their shifts, or get extra pay for short-notice shifts.
But there’s a catch—as part of some deals that were struck in the last legislative session, the Oregon State Legislature voted to prohibit local governments like the City of Portland from acting on scheduling protection until July 2017.
This is where I part ways with some people in my own party. Because low-income families can’t wait until July 2017. They need help now. Our state government should either protect low-income parents right away – by enacting statewide legislation in the 2016 short session – or at least repeal the preemption and let the City of Portland lead.
Over the coming months, I’ll be raising my voice and working with my colleagues at the City of Portland and in the state legislature to get this resolved.
So please, call your legislators (get contact information here) and ask for action on abusive scheduling in February. And if you or a person you know is being hurt by scheduling practices like this, please respond to this email with your story. I’d love to hear from you.Share on Facebook
From a report by the Idaho Department of Lands, written by information officer Sharla Arledge, explaining some of the terminology used in wildfire reports.
As a new PIO to the fire world I know there is a lot of terminology the average person isn’t familiar with. With this severe fire season we are talking a lot about Incident Management Teams. The question has come up, what is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 fire teams.
I thought it might be helpful to have an explanation of Incident Management Teams.
What is an Incident Management Team?
An incident management team is a small group of people fire management professionals specially trained and experienced in managing complex emergency fire situations. It is a tool to help fire protection agency manage fire situations that exceed their resources.
An incident management team is supervised by an Incident Commander that oversees specialists with expertise in operations, logistics, plans and finance and administration. Type 1 or 2 teams are commonly comprised of qualified individuals from various state and federal agencies. Type 3 teams are usually composed of individuals from other units within the protection agencies and from units of other agencies in the local area.
Teams are classified as Type 1, 2 or 3 based on the complexity of fires they are qualified to manage. A couple of differences between a Type 1 and Type 2 team is the complexity of the fire and the number of personnel. Type 1 teams handle the most complex fires and operation personnel often exceed 500 people and total people on the incident usually exceed 1,000.
When is a team needed?
An incident management team is assigned to relieve a wildfire agency that no longer has the resources to effectively manage the local fire situation. Examples would be:
· When a single large fire reaches a level of complexity that exceeds the experience or resources of the unit(s) fighting the fire.
· When a large number of fires start in a short period of time causing an excessive initial attack workload.
The protection agency requests the assignment of a team. The requests are driven not only by the fire situation and resource availability, but also what weather and burning conditions are expected in the future.
When a team is activated and assembles on scene it is fully briefed on the fire situation and the risks and suppression objectives by the protection agency. After the briefing the team assumes management responsibility for the fire(s). This allows the local protection agency to replenish its resources and focus them on the initial attack responsibilities elsewhere.
The team operates under the direction of an employee of the agency on whose protection the fire occurs. This employee is called the Line Officer. The Line Officer ensures the team manages the fire in an economical manner with safety for the public and fire personnel always being the first priority.
The cost of suppression increases substantially anytime a team is assigned, especially a Type 1 or 2 team. This is because of the large amount of equipment and supplies needed to support the personnel and resources assigned to a large fire.
I hope you find this helpful. As always, let me know if you have any questions.Share on Facebook
From this week’s Idaho Weekly Briefing: An Idaho Fish & Game report on how this summer’s heat may be affecting fish and fishing rules.
Warm water temperatures came earlier than usual to many of Idaho’s fishing waters, but it’s unlikely to lead to fishing closures or restrictions similar to those that neighboring states have implemented.
“In many streams, what we’re seeing this year with water temperatures happens every year, we’re just seeing it sooner than normal,” said Jim Fredericks, chief of the Department of Fish and Game’s fisheries bureau.
A heat wave in late June and early July spiked water temperatures, but many waters have since cooled to normal summer temperatures. That doesn’t mean fish haven’t been stressed, particularly trout and other coldwater species, but conditions are not likely to affect fish populations now or in the near future based on current water conditions.
Warm water is a common occurrence during summer, and several factors come into play when it happens. Summer migrations into headwaters, cold tributaries or around underwater springs are a normal part of life for trout in many Idaho rivers. In lakes and reservoirs fish move to deeper, cooler water. Many rivers, or portions of them, have dams that allow water temperatures and flows to be adjusted.
The feeding activity of the fish also helps minimize the problem. Fish that can’t find cooler water typically become lethargic and decrease or stop eating, which means slow fishing and a corresponding drop in fishing pressure.
While closures in neighboring states won’t affect Idaho, Oregon and Washington have implemented restrictions on the Snake River where it shares a border with Idaho.
Joe DuPont, Fish and Game’s Clearwater Region fisheries manager, said fishing pressure for sturgeon, and catch rates in the Snake River from Idaho anglers, are likely to be low.
“I’m confident the sturgeon in the Hells Canyon reach of the Snake River are not going to be impacted by anglers due to temperatures,” DuPont said. “Catch rates drop so much that very few get caught. You can’t stress them out if you can’t catch them.”
The department is monitoring the Snake River, and he noted that during spring, two dead sturgeon were reported by multiple callers to the department.
“When a sturgeon dies, we get repeated calls,” Dupont said. “If large numbers were dying, we would know about it.”
Fish and Game officials have the authority to implement emergency fishing closures in extreme cases, although they aren’t expected.
That’s not to say anglers won’t see some noticeable effects from warmer. Anglers and others may see localized fish die offs, a few of which have already occurred. Anglers may also notice the effects of stress on individual fish, such as parasites, lesions and other physical signs.
Anglers can also reduce stress on fish by not fishing during the warmest parts of the day, and if they plan to release the fish, land them quickly and carefully release them. If anglers see fish go belly up after being released, they may voluntarily stop fishing until the water cools. Early mornings are typically when the water temperatures are coolest during the day.
The window when temperatures are above a comfortable level for fish are typically short-lived, and most fish can withstand the temporary stress. As water cools, typically in late summer when days get shorter and night temperatures drop, fish resume their normal routines and anglers will likely see catch rates improve. (photo/Nan Palmero)Share on Facebook
The Oregon legislature, which normally runs longer than Washington’s or Idaho’s, has adjourned. (It was a little later than expected, but not by a lot.)
Here’s what the House leadership cited as the session’s accomplishments.
Investing in a Strong Education System
A $7.4 billion investment in public schools will provide stable budgets for most school districts while also funding full-day kindergarten for children throughout Oregon for the first time.
A $35 million investment in Career and Technical Education and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education (CTE/STEM) will help increase high school graduation rates and better prepare Oregon students for high-wage jobs.
Students seeking higher education will benefit from boosts in funding for public universities, community colleges, and student financial assistance (Opportunity Grants) – including a new tuition waiver program for qualified community college students and a requirement that public universities justify any proposed tuition increases above 3 percent in 2016-17.
New investments in early childhood education – notably Healthy Families home visiting, relief nurseries, and quality preschool – will help ensure children arrive at school ready to succeed.
Expanding Opportunities for Working Families
The Sick Leave for All Oregonians Act will make sure most working Oregonians can accrue a reasonable number of paid sick days each year – a basic workplace protection that will make a major difference for families across the state.
Oregon Retirement Savings Accounts will give more families the opportunity to save for retirement via an easy, effective, and portable savings account.
Prohibiting employer retaliation for discussing what you earn will help combat wage disparities and help women who currently do not get equal pay for equal work.
Strategic investments in the Employment Related Day Care Program and the Working Family Child and Dependent Care tax credit will increase access to quality, affordable childcare for working families.
A landmark investment in affordable housing construction will help thousands of families and begin to tackle Oregon’s statewide housing crisis.
Removing questions about criminal history from job applications, commonly known as “ban the box,” will help Oregonians get back on their feet once they have served their time.
Supporting Job Creation and Local Economies
A $175 million bonding investment will enable seismic upgrades to K-12 schools throughout the state, and an additional $125 million in bonds will help school districts across the state to fix outdated, dilapidated, and hazardous facilities.
A $90 million investment in Oregon’s transportation infrastructure will provide much-needed upgrades, including $35 million to improve the safety of some of the most deadly intersections and dangerous stretches of highway in communities across the state.
Strategic investments will create jobs and spur economic development across the state, including: investments in multimodal transportation through the ConnectOregon program; pivotal resources for community-based initiatives through the Regional Solutions program; and support for converting unusable brownfields such as abandoned gas stations into development-ready lots.
The implementation of Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program will provide Oregonians with more choices at the fuel pump, cleaner air to breathe, and more jobs in an emerging industry.
Rural economic investments include $50 million in grants and loans to help meet water storage and conservation needs, resources to improve sage grouse habitats and maintain grazing lands, and funds to manage and build a market for Western Juniper.
A fix to Oregon’s centralized property tax rules will provide certainty for technology companies that want to build data centers and create jobs in rural Oregon.
Improving Public Safety for Oregon Families
A package of common-sense regulations will guide a safe and successful implementation of the voter-approved Measure 91 to legalize recreational marijuana for adults.
The Oregon Firearms Safety Act will help keep convicted felons, domestic abusers and people in severe mental crisis from buying guns online or through other direct private sales because criminal background checks will now be required for those transactions.
Barring domestic abusers from possessing guns and ammunition will help protect victims and keep families safe.
Establishing long-needed rules to define and prohibit racial profiling will help rebuild public trust in local law enforcement and make communities stronger and safer.
Doubling the statute of limitations for first degree sex crimes from six years to twelve years will give victims a voice and a real chance to seek justice.
Improving the state’s capacity to respond to accidents involving trains carrying hazardous materials will make our communities safer.
Promoting Healthy Communities
Significant investments in mental health care and alcohol and drug treatment will strengthen communities throughout the state, including $20 million to build supportive housing for Oregonians impacted by mental illness or addiction.
Pharmacists will be allowed to prescribe and dispense birth control and insurance companies will be required to cover 12 months of prescription coverage – both of which will increase access to contraception and help reduce unintended pregnancies.
The Oregon Toxic Free Kids Act will require some manufacturers to incrementally phase out dangerous chemicals from kids’ products.
Cover Oregon has been abolished as a public corporation, which will add much-needed transparency and accountability to Oregon’s health insurance marketplace.
Vulnerable patients (victims of domestic violence, for example) will be able to keep their sensitive medical information private by having their “explanation of benefits” information mailed to an address that is different from the policy holder’s.
From a Facebook post by Duff McKee, a former 4th district judge in Idaho.
A court decision of significance will invariably disappoint some and delight others. Usually, the more delighted the winner is, the more upset the loser becomes. It is not uncommon for losers to blame the judge.
The marriage equality decision by our highest court demonstrates the phenomena. The teapots and extreme evangelicals are noisily rising up to complain, as expected. One theme of their rumble is that it’s all the courts’ fault; the courts have gone off on excursions of their own, changing laws at will, ignoring the will of people, tearing up valid legislation, etc. The noise is, by and large, hyperbolic, extreme, and historically wrong, but we have come to expect this from the more radical divisions within our society. It’s within the penumbra of tolerable free speech.
But there is also a line of critical remarks about the courts swirling around the marriage equality decision that is different from the normal rumble of losers’ gripes.
These are the comments to the effect that one should just ignore judicial decisions that one disagrees with, or that those in power are not obligated to follow a decision that they choose not to, or that states remain able to enact their own laws contrary to rulings of the high court. These remarks are not just disturbing, they are appalling – because these remarks are coming from men who are currently seeking to become President of the United States. It makes one shudder.
The inspired magnificence of our Constitution is in the balance it imposes upon the government. Integral to this balance is the existence of an independent judiciary with the right and the duty to examine the acts of government to ensure the actions are within the boundaries of the Constitution, properly express the will of the majority, and do not trample upon the rights of the minority. While we believe the will of the majority should, and does, overwhelmingly guide our affairs in almost every facet of our lives, we believe with equal fervor that the government should not trample upon the rights of the minority.
The guardian of all these concerns throughout history has been, and is, judicial review by an independent judiciary. This is the essence that has been part of our heritage since the very earliest days of our government. Marbury v Madison, decided in 1803, was not a startling new proposition, but was merely the first case of judicial review to reach the high court.
To complain that the high court in the marriage equality decision has just recently usurped unto itself the power to interfere, and that this somehow takes away from the inherent authority of the Congress or of the several states, is to display a fundamental lack of understanding of how our government works, but it is a just complaint. To even suggest that it would be appropriate for those in power to simply ignore such a decision of the high court is not only dangerously stupid, it is plain treachery.Share on Facebook
A guest opinion from Tami Thatcher, who has written frequently in recent years about the Idaho National Laboratory and related nuclear industry issues. She said that she “was a nuclear safety analyst at INL for several years. . ..and then “graduated” in 2005. It’s a long story. Since 2005, I have provided contractor work for the INL, Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free, and Environmental Defense Institute of tiny Troy Idaho where many of my articles are posted.”
I have been trying to piece together the history of radionuclide and chemical contamination of drinking water at the Idaho National Laboratory. US Geological Survey reports and data fill in much of the history of what was monitored since 1949.
State regulation of drinking water laws began to permeate INL in the late 1980s. INL contractors now perform the INL drinking water monitoring.
I visited the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to see the data. What I discovered was that IDEQ does not collect or post online the radionuclide data for INL drinking water, only the chemical data.
In 1995, the IDEQ granted the DOE’s request to no longer provide radionuclide drinking water results.
Few people know that the radionuclide results for INL drinking water are not available at IDEQ or the site annual environmental monitoring reports.
The DOE’s own lax limits were 100 times more permissive than current federal drinking water limits. DOE and USGS reports that did disclose highlights of the contamination often emphasized that more permissive federal limits would soon be enacted. But they weren’t.
IDEQ ceased oversight of radionuclides in INL drinking water at a time when radionuclide levels remained at or near the federal limit. A legal loophole for non-community wells means the radionuclide contaminants are not regulated by the state.
A comprehensive review of chronically contaminated historical INL drinking water does not exist. The contamination has yet to be acknowledged in National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) energy worker compensation dose reconstruction or epidemiology studies. The energy worker compensation law enacted in 2000 has paid out about $200 million in INL claims, but NIOSH does not disclose when or which facilities exposed the workers.
Brain tumors, leukemia and lymphatic cancers were found to be elevated in INL workers regardless of their recorded dose and whether or not they were radiation workers.
In the past, workers at INL’s Central Facilities Area were drinking up to five times the federal drinking water limit for tritium, 70 percent of the limit for iodine-129, and a host of other contaminants for decades. Drinking water wells at other INL facilities were also contaminated.
The full extent of Snake River Plain aquifer contamination from reactor operation, fuel tests, nuclear fuel reprocessing and waste burial remains obscured behind overly simplistic presentations that promote the idea that as long as current contamination levels don’t exceed federal limits, there’s no reason for concern.
There are serious radioactive omissions when it comes to describing current and historical drinking water contaminants at the Idaho National Laboratory.
Piecing together the full picture of all historical INL drinking water contaminants would require filling in those not monitored but later discovered to have been present.
Former workers (and their children) may wonder what they were exposed to. When weighing the benefits of future operations at INL, the public needs access to the full story of INL’s past and current contaminated drinking water.Share on Facebook
The Oregon State Public Interest Research Group on Tuesday sent out an email warning about the spread of superbugs – mutations resistant to most existing poisons or other efforts against them. From it:
We know the danger is real.
Raising livestock and poultry on routine antibiotics is helping grow and spread the superbugs — antibiotic-resistant bacteria — that could soon kill more people than cancer. 
Yet far too often, we don’t know or can’t trust whether the meat we buy has been raised with or without antibiotics. It’s time to stop the overuse of antibiotics and the next big step is to put a label on it.
We have a right to know whether our food threatens our health. Join our call on the USDA to label meat raised with routine antibiotics.
There’s no question that overusing antibiotics poses a danger to our health. We’ve known this for decades. Yet, for decades, the industry has fed huge amounts of antibiotics to factory farm animals — even when the animals were healthy.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria already infect more than a million Americans each year, and more than 23,000 die. Now, according to a recent study, resistant bacteria are projected to kill 10 million people per year by 2050.
We deserve to know whether the food we buy is contributing to the rise in drug-resistant superbugs.
I’m not alone in wanting labels. A Consumer Reports poll found that 83% of Americans want such a label to inform whether beef, pork, turkey, chicken or other meats in a grocery store come from animals routinely given antibiotics.
The good news is that consumers are demanding change. Thanks to you, we helped organize consumers to convince McDonald’s to end the routine use of antibiotics in the chicken they sell.
More good news: The USDA is considering a simple requirement that meat carry labels telling consumers whether it was raised on antibiotics.
But with big food companies pushing back, the USDA isn’t about to hand us a victory on a silver platter. We have to demand it. Add your name to our call for action. It’s time to stop the overuse of antibiotics, and the next big step is to put a label on it.Share on Facebook
Another take on charter schools (see also a Washington state report last week), this time by Levi B Cavener, a special education teacher in Caldwell, Idaho. He also manages the education blog IdahosPromise.Org.
60 years ago this month, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education. On May 17, 1954, the High Court ruled unanimously that U.S. public schools must be desegregated, that separate school systems for blacks and whites are inherently unequal and a violation of the “equal protection clause” of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.
It’s now more than a half century later. Here, we have Idaho.
On April 29, 2015, the Idaho Public Charter School Commission released their first ever Annual Report. A damning self-indictment, it paints a painfully grim picture for minority student enrollment in Idaho’s public charter schools. The Commission’s comprehensive report was unequivocal in its findings: Idaho charter schools are consistently and disproportionately unreflective of their surrounding communities’ demographics.
A few takeaways from the report: 55% of Idaho charters under enroll Special Education students; 77% of charters under enroll Free and Reduced Lunch students; 87% under enroll Limited English Proficiency students; and 90% under enroll non-white students. What does this mean? It means Idaho has reversed course and is heading back to 1955, back to the Civil Rights era, and back to schools that are both separate and unequal. It means, apparently, “white flight”?
Beyond a moral and legal argument to ensure equity in public charter schools, here’s why every property owner in Idaho should care about the Commission’s recent findings: When public charter schools fail to share an equitable burden for providing expensive minority student services — such as special education and English Language Learner instruction – local public schools end up enrolling a disproportionate number of these students. Local public schools are then forced to levy property owners to pay for expensive minority instruction and support.
While some may point to the current imbalance as merely a byproduct of so called “school choice,” the Commission’s findings should, at minimum, create pause to ensure that charter facilities are actually “a choice” for minority student populations. Remember, Jim Crow laws and segregated schools were also a product of active policy “choices” by lawmakers.
Remember, the bargain that charters made with Idaho is enhanced instructional freedom in order to experiment with new pedagogy and curriculum. However, that bargain also requires charters to provide equitable access and appropriate minority service instruction as required by civil rights law, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Terry Ryan, President of the Idaho Charter School Network (the lobbying arm of Idaho’s charters), recently wrote an op-ed declaring that the solution to this inequity problem is…wait for it…to build more charters! Said Mr. Ryan, “The best way to help charter schools serve more diverse populations is to help them grow.” Throw more money at the problem. Where have we heard this before?
Idaho Ed News reported that Idaho Charter Commission Chairman Alan Reed said of the report’s findings, “Before approving new charters, we ask petitioners, ‘What are your strategies for reaching special and underserved populations?’”
Chairman Reed’s question should be modified: Before approving any new charters we need to fix the imbalance that exists today. After all, shouldn’t minority students be entitled to the same freedom and legal opportunity “to choose” charters as any other kiddo?
It’s time for a moratorium on any new charters until we address this chronic imbalance. It’s time we fully recognize that regular public schools are shouldering the heavy burden of educating special education, minority and low income student populations. And it’s past time that funding for Idaho charter schools be withheld until they can demonstrate they are following the law.Share on Facebook
A guest post from Liv Finne of the conservative Washington Policy Center, on new rules about charter schools by Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn.
They say that if you want to make an announcement that won’t be noticed, post the notice on an obscure website and schedule the hearing the day after a holiday weekend. That’s just what Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn did when he issued his plan to impose 119 pages of administrative rules on public charter schools and the families that support them.
Superintendent Dorn targets families at nine new charter schools set to open this fall in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Highline, and Kent. The Dorn Rules will hurt these families and those that will eventually attend up to 31 other charter schools in the future.
Washington’s voter-passed charter school law is so popular with parents that space limitations have forced the new schools to place hundreds of students on waiting lists. Young teachers in particular are flocking to take exciting new jobs at charter schools because of the freedom they provide educators to design and implement lessons that help many hard-to-teach students succeed.
Superintendent Dorn wants his charter school restrictions approved by this Friday, May 29th, which is light-speed in the world of government. It is interesting that the education bureaucracy will take years to implement a reform bill passed by the legislature, but blocking families from charter schools takes only weeks.
The Dorn Rules would cut funding to charter schools (WAC 392-121-299) compared to what is provided under the charter school law (RCW 28A.710.220(2)), impose hiring quotas, (WAC 392-127-004 and 006), reject their budgets (WAC 392-123-0795 and 080 and 095), restrict how they serve special education children, transitional bilingual children, and other categorical program funds (WAC 392-122-910), and limit the types of bonuses they provide their teachers (WAC 392-140-973 and 974).
Superintendent Dorn is well known for his opposition to letting families access charter schools. In 2012 he fought passage of the state’s break-through charter school law, lending his name to the “No on Initiative 1240” campaign.
As a top defender of the traditional public school monopoly, Superintendent Dorn seems to view charter school parents as a threat. He certainly represents the status quo, and he now appears to be working to weaken the growing popularity of these new public schools in Washington.
The Dorn Rules also represent a significant power grab by a state regulatory agency. Superintendent Dorn says his supervisory role over public schools should give him the power to impose cuts and restrictions on charter schools and the families they serve. This is not true, however. As state superintendent his power is limited. He is supposed to fairly deliver state and federal funds to school districts and to charter schools according to the law, and to report on how well Washington children are learning. The Dorn Rules go far beyond what the law allows, and deny basic educational rights to children who attend charter schools.
An accurate reading of the statute shows Superintendent Dorn is misusing his regulatory power to prevent parents from choosing an authentic charter public school for their children. The obvious purpose of the Dorn Rules is to force innovative charter schools to conform to the traditional and restricted public school model, which are exactly the kind of school from which so many Washington families are trying to escape.Share on Facebook