WA Supreme Court jumps the shark, waiting 11 months to release opinion invalidating schools that already started. https://t.co/YXZURRTlvp
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartin206) September 4, 2015
I have sympathy for the families who were duped into enrolling their children in charter schools before the court ruled today that they are unconstitutional, but I’ve absolutely no sympathy for the argument that the justices are somehow to blame. The court’s job is to interpret the constitution, and on this issue both the Washington State Constitution and 100 years of legal precedent are rather clear. It was never a sure thing that the court would rule Initiative 1240 unconstitutional because court rulings almost never are, but it was always more likely than not.
Article IX, Section 2 of the constitution plainly reads: “the entire revenue derived from the common school fund and the state tax for common schools shall be exclusively applied to the support of the common schools.” Clear enough. The whole case hinged on the legal definition of “common schools,” and since School District No. 20 v. Bryan in 1909 it has always been this:
a common school, within the meaning of our constitution, is one that is common to all children of proper age and capacity, free, and subject to and under the control of the qualified voters of the school district. The complete control of the schools is a most important feature, for it carries with it the right of the voters, through their chosen agents, to select qualified teachers, with powers to discharge them if they are incompetent.
Charters, with their unelected appointed boards, totally outside the control of voters, clearly do not meet Bryan’s definition of common schools. I supposed the court could have engaged in judicial activism by futzing the issue for the sake of political expediency. Or perhaps it could have overturned the clear precedent established in Bryan. But there was no good reason to expect that the court would.
If I had to bet money I would have bet that I-1240 would be ruled unconstitutional, at least in part. And anybody with any experience reading the law could have at least foreseen this possibility. Hell, a lower court had already ruled as much!
And yet, charter school operators rushed to start up charters before the court released its opinion—perhaps betting that the court would be loath to dismantle the schools once established. If that was their gambit, they gambled and lost. Or rather, the children enrolled in these schools lost, victims of a stupid if not cynical effort to start up charter schools before the charter school law was legally settled.
Argue all you want with the legal reasoning behind the court’s 6-3 decision—the dissent makes a reasonable argument as well. But the point here is that this ruling was always possible if not likely, and thus it was irresponsible bordering on malpractice to open charter schools to enrollment before the legal issues were fully settled. It’s not the justices who are to blame for the predicament these charter school students find themselves in, it’s the charter school operators who opened their schools knowing full well that the court might soon deliver a legally mortal blow.
Yay! I came here as soon as I heard to see if I could beat you to the punch…
I enjoyed the semi-disenting opinion… altho charter schools that take money from the common fund is unconstitutional, they are free to pay for it from the general fund.
Translation? “You wanna pay for a pet project to enrich your cronies? Then raise taxes, and we’ll see if you get reelected “
Steven Cook spews:
According to that definition – none of the “Public Schools” in WA are “Common Schools” either – as when was the last time you heard of the the voters firing a teacher?
Melissa Westbrook spews:
Well, as one of the heads of the No on 1240 campaign against charter schools, I am pleased with the decision.
I also concur with Goldy. There is NO way the writers of this initiative – given how well-heeled their support (see Gates, Waltons, etc) – could have not realized it wouldn’t meet constitutional muster.
Washington State has a unique constitution when it comes to public education. It is very specific on what the state is to do and what “common schools” should be.
The people who wrote this law gambled with children’s academic lives and lost.
That’s on them.
@ 2: There are these other clauses in the constitution about due process and association which means teachers, the same as you and me, have rights and can join unions. Teachers do get fired.
And as to the conservatives railing about this decision. The court majority opinion doesn’t say you can’t have charter schools, it says you can’t have them and operate them like they are now and still use public money that might have otherwise gone to public schools. Charter supporters would seem to have a few choices: secure State funding that doesn’t reduce the appropriations to local school districts (as happens now) and subject yourself to local public oversight. Or they could just become private schools. Or they could go away altogether.
Can I just ask that Johnathan Martin acquaint himself with the basic origin of common cultural memes before he misuses them?
How is this “jumping the shark”?
I’m an atheist, but thank little baby Jesus for this ruling. Bye Bye Summit “Public” Schools. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way back to California.
Roger Rabbit spews:
@2 Not much of a lawyer, are you?
A victory for what John Stossel calls the “blob.”
I’m very happy about the ruling. I agree that the charters shouldn’t have done anything until the ruling came out. But, what role did the state have in OKing the opening of the 9 charter schools? Isn’t the onus on for opening the schools on the state for letting them open? Not sure, maybe I’m missing something.
Sloppy Travis Bickle spews:
It’s interesting seeing HA libbies scold the charter school proponents for putting something into action, while knowing full well that a court challenge was coming. So now a few schools – 9, I think – might have to close and their students and parents will have a scramble.
Yes, a gamble that didn’t turn out so well for charter school supporters. Agreed.
Wasn’t that long ago that the nation put into action Obamacare, knowing full well that a court challenge to it was coming. As I recall, one of the rationales put forth by Dems for not overturning it was that it was already rolling and that there would be a disruption should it be found unconstitutional.
It took a creative approach by CJ Roberts to carve out a 5-4 decision in favor, one which was foreseen by virtually nobody. After all, Obama’s team argued that it wasn’t a tax, and yet the decision was based on Congress’ taxing authority.
Had Roberts come down on the opposite side of the decision, would HA libbies have scolded Obama, Pelosi, and Reid for such reckless behavior? Would Goldy have opined something to the effect that “It was irresponsible of President Obama, bordering on abuse of office, to permit enaction of Obamacare before the legal issues were fully resolved.”?
Something tells me HA libbies would have saved their vitriol for Roberts & Co.
Dr. Orpheus spews:
@10 It’s adorable that you fail or refuse to discern the difference between 1) a law that was refined for man-years, debated, and ultimately voted on by a legislative body, and 2) an initiative that any person with enough money can get on the ballot (*cough*, *cough*, usually Eyman).
Mark Adams spews:
@2 Nor do the voters determine that the children are going to have sloppy joes on Tuesdays, nor do they hire or fire the cook who puts it together. Still voters do vote for board members who can and have fired teachers, principals, football coaches, ect.
Mark Adams spews:
There is nothing wrong with people starting a charter school. You want one go ahead, just in this state you aren’t going to get the publics money to do that. It should have been obvious to those starting these schools. In order though for the initiative to be challenged someone had to have a charter school and jump through the hoops to get the public money. Otherwise there is no harm and the court might just say it’s premature to make a ruling as there are no charter schools trying to dip into public funds. Aren’t the citizens of Washington state truly outstanding civic minded individuals. Truly mazing and we need do nothing.
The state legislature passed SB5387 and it’s an atrocity but no one can do anything until the bill goes into effect on the 1st of next year and the unintended consequences of our legislators hubris of both parties begins. The creation of the state the sate the Corporation may have attained freedom, perhaps corporations really are people whatever they are since the creature will no longer be so well defined as of the 1st of January. I think the courts are going to rule parts are unconstitutional in parts at least those dealing with process of service on registered agents but since serving a RA no longer guarantees that the courts have jurisdiction over a corporation foreign or domestic is just one thing in a whole host of what were they smoking in Olympia. I’ll give the Governor a pass even when a bill stinks when 90% of the Representatives and Senators sign it you might as well sign as they will likely override your veto. Though the Governor could have fun later with the I told you so. Guess Ensley isn’t that kind of guy.
Mark Adams spews:
@10 I’m waiting for the Republicans who say they are for small government and good fiscal policy to just sue the Obama administration over the part of the Obama Care bill that tells the government it can’t negotiate with the drug companies over the cost of drugs. It seems the government should be able to get the best deal it can with the drug companies over the cost of drugs. Even if it were just the Veteran’s Administration or the military buying the drugs shouldn’t our government act in the best interest of the American people? After all isn’t the reason for the whole thing was the cost of health care? It doesn’t cost the government all that much to use it’s power in the market to best effect once we the people have said we want government to do this.
This giving the drug companies carte blanc is one place where fiscal conservatives and lobbies should agree that the current law is bad. Our congress should to work and change and make it better. Or we should be able to sue or something.
It’s going to be fun if a Republican gets elected and realizes he is going to have to fight to keep Obama Care which was the Republican plan for health care all along. True lobbies support that thing called single payer. So maybe if the court had found it unconstitutional or the Republicans get their way we may get a single payer system. It’s going to be fun to see a Republican President do that 360 and come out in support of Obama Care as his own party fights to get rid of it.
Yep my money is on the Republican candidate as long as they get through this long slog without a third party candidate. Then again the Democrats could have the same problem. As I don’t think Hillary is electable, and serious fireworks start should Biden do the right thing and throw his hat into the ring. I like Bernie and think he’s more electable than Hillary, but you gotta get through the primaries.
Ima Dunce spews:
Goodbye to another right wing scam to rob the public.
Capn' Mal spews:
We have a bit of a breather to get the common schools up to the level that the citizens of Washington demand. Give it five years and the school privatizes will figure a work around or pass another half assed initiative amending the constitution. Keep those champagne bottles on ice. The WEA has to take a bigger hand in weeding out the incompetents and burn-outs from their ranks. If they don’t, the voters will do something stupid again.
YLB disagreed and proved it. [Puddyliar was] wrong and YLB was right. spews:
Was Donald Verrilli part of Obama's "team" O Dr.Know it all? Obama's own Solicitor General? Ya think?
Yet what did Verrilli put down as Section II of his argument to the SCOTUS?
Robert D. Skeels * rdsathene spews:
Generally, there is no such thing as a “public” charter school. Both existing case law and public policy have long established the logic for the Washington State Supreme Court holding. The California Court of Appeals (2007-01-10) ruled that charter schools are NOT “public agents.” The 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals (2010-01-04) ruled that charter schools are NOT “public actors.” The National Labor Relations Board joins a host of other government agencies that have unequivocally ruled that that charters are “private entities.”
By definition whether a charter is run by a for-profit firm, or a (501c3) non-profit, then it is not public. The United States Census Bureau frames this issue best: “A few “public charter schools” are run by public universities and municipalities. However, most charter schools are run by private nonprofit organizations and are therefore classified as private.” (US Census Bureau. (2011). Public Education Finances: 2009 (GO9-ASPEF). Washington, DC: US Government Printing O ce. Print. vi).
Because these lucrative charter schools are not public, and are not subject to public oversight, they are able to get away with violating the constitutional rights of their students. The decision in Scott B. v. Board of Trustees of Orange County High School of the Arts saw Rosa K. Hirji, Esq. write: “The structures that allow charter schools to exist are marked by the absence of protections that are traditionally guaranteed by public education, protections that only become apparent and necessary when families and students begin to face a denial of what they were initially promised to be their right.” It’s time that we shut down the profitable charter school industry and divert our attentions to improving our public schools.>
Sloppy Travis Bickle spews:
The dissent’s argument apparently was enough to persuade Democrat AG Ferguson to prepare a letter requesting that the supreme court revisit its decision.
Running Start, among numerous other programs, isn’t subject to oversight by an elected board, either.
I suppose that to the guy who at the highest level is tasked with enforcing decisions by the court, that’s a wee bit of a problem.