I will try to answer your questions. I have earned the right to be engaged in any attempts to reform charter school law. I was the only legislator who stood in front of over 250, somewhat hostile, citizens at the public comment session to discuss the NCS expansion. My comments are a matter of record and I never attacked NCS but I did enumerate and specifically call for a comprehensive reformulation of Charter Law. Since that time I have worked with my good friend Rep. Jaques to craft and write legislation to address the many flaws in the Charter Law. The many flaws included but were not limited to, impact on existing schools, failure of charters to offer innovations and ideas that could be replicated in traditional schools, lack of socio-economic diversity in charters comparable to their geographically located sister schools. Geographical and ability restrictions that seem to exclude members of the reflective public school community. It became apparent that we would not be able to move this legislation through last year so we focused on a rejuvenation of efforts this year. In between last year and this a mysteriously secretive task force was formed to study, and by their own account “NOT” offer legislation to reform charter law. I asked formally to be allowed to serve on the committee??, which was heavily weighted with pro-charter and business interests to the real exclusion of supporters of the needs and negative effects on traditional schools, and my request was denied. That brings us full cycle to the current legislation that has taken on a complexion of giving a peanut butter sandwich to traditional schools needs while offering filet mignon to charters. The efforts of Rep. Jaques in this matter have been responsible and well-intended and he has managed to get a few good and necessary items into this variation. The reality, however, is that our original bill was only a few pages and this construction is 20 pages long filled with many obscure, nuanced and ambiguous passages that have caused me concern. Not to mention one very clear stipulation that creates a fund accessible only to charters that will be doled out by DOE and funded with money we should be returning to traditional public schools that we have imposed draconian cuts on.
Specifically, I know I’ve proved my legitimacy and right to prime co-sponsorship on this reform legislation and that does not preclude any considerations or questions I may have about this variation of the original intentions of legislation. If you are responsible for decorating your home and you want to be able to move the furniture and pictures and paint the walls you will find in the political world that you better stay in the house and not outside on the porch looking in the window and trying to have your suggestions heard through the shutters.
The question asked, was how could Kowalko and Jacques have their names listed as sponsors to a bill that was so bizarre. Is it possible to request one’s name be removed a sponsor to a piece of legislation? There is precedence for that.
So can everyone ask this question. Why is something that is supposed to be this good, being whisked through without being vetted first? I remember a lot of people criticizing Obama for letting the Affordable Health Care have its innards displayed and a compromised, sown back up bill move forward. After seeing the debacle of educational reform in this state being sneaked through the House and Senate, Obama’s wisdom becomes prevalent. If there are faults, they get exposed before it becomes law. The controversial law has a better chance of standing if it is vetted first….