WEA supports legal challenge to Charter School Act
Here is the news release about the lawsuit against charter schools, which was filed July 3.
Parents, educators, and community groups file lawsuit challenging new charter school law
A coalition of parents, educators, and community groups has filed a Complaint in King County Superior Court challenging the constitutionality of Initiative 1240, Washington’s new Charter School Act.
The Complaint asserts that the Charter School Act violates the Washington Constitution by improperly diverting public school funds to private organizations that are not subject to local voter control and by impeding the State’s constitutional obligation to amply provide for and fully fund K-12 public education.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the League of Women Voters of Washington, a nonpartisan organization that encourages the participation of citizens in government; El Centro de la Raza, a Seattle-based group dedicated to social justice; the Washington Association of School Administrators, an organization of more than 1,600 school administrators; the Washington Education Association, an organization that represents nearly 82,000 public school employees; Wayne Au, Ph.D., an educator and education advocate; Pat Braman, a former Mercer Island High School teacher and current Mercer Island School Board member; and parents with children in public schools in Snohomish and Spokane Counties.
“The Charter School Act poses a real threat to our public school system in Washington,” said Plaintiff Dr. Wayne Au. “Not only does it divert already deficient state funds from public schools to private organizations, it also exempts those private organizations from many of the standards that are in place to ensure that all children receive an adequate education.”
The Complaint asserts that the Charter School Act violates the Washington Constitution in at least seven ways:
1. It improperly delegates the State’s constitutional “paramount duty” to provide for the education of children within its borders to private organizations that are not subject to the requirements and standards in place to ensure that all children receive a constitutionally sufficient education.
2. It also violates the State’s paramount duty to make ample provision for the education of all children within its borders by interfering with the State’s progress toward complying with the Washington Supreme Court directive to the Legislature to fully fund basic educational programs by 2018, as set forth in the 2012 McCleary decision.
3. It unconstitutionally diverts public funds that are restricted to use for public common schools to private charter schools that are not subject to local voter control.
4. It violates the Constitution’s “general and uniform” provision because charter schools are not subject to many laws and regulations applicable to public schools, including many of the provisions defining a basic education.
5. It amends existing state law in a manner not permitted by the Constitution.
6. It violates the constitutional requirement that the superintendent of public instruction “have supervision over all matters pertaining to public schools.”
7. It violates the Constitution because it mandates the use of local voter-approved levy funds for a purpose other than the purpose for which the voters approved the levies.
The plaintiffs previously asked the Washington Attorney General’s Office to address the unconstitutional provisions of the Charter School Act and the Attorney General declined the request. The lawsuit now asks the King County Superior Court to rule that the Charter School Act is unconstitutional and to prohibit further implementation of the Act. Paul Lawrence and Jessica Skelton of Pacifica Law Group are the lead attorneys in the case.
Background on I-1240
Initiative 1240 passed on Nov. 6 by only 40,000 votes. It makes legal the establishment of up to 40 privately run, publicly funded, lottery-style charter schools over the next five years in Washington State. Because the initiative would drain up to $350 million from traditional public schools, with no guarantee of improved student performance and no accountability to local voters and taxpayers, WEA opposed the initiative.
WEA supported the NO 1240 campaign run by People For Our Public Schools. Despite being outspent 17-1, NO 1240 nearly pulled off a defeat of Initiative 1240 — coming within 1 percent on Election Day. The NO 1240 campaign built a true grassroots campaign, with representatives from 260 school districts statewide and support from organizations representing more than 1,000,000 people. Lacking grassroots support, II-1240 promoters spent nearly $11 million. I-1240 donors included Walmart heirs, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Nick Hanauer and members of the Bezos family.
Background on charter schools
KOMO TV’s Ken Schram: Charter schools not the answer
The Morning Call: Study questions state’s charter school system
U.S. News: Charter Schools Might Not Be Better
New York Times: Charters discriminate against special needs students.
Georgia: “What bothers me is the use of public money to be deceptive.”
Georgia Part 2: “While charter schools are given more autonomy in their operations, the lack of transparency and poor financial management has been a concern for about four years.”
Cincinnati: “This year three charter schools were closed and another 15 are at risk of closing under its provisions.”
Utah: “We’ve had complaints all over the country about problems with charter schools inculcating religion.”
Colorado: “…many of the charter schools fail to submit their financial audits to the district in time for the district to include them in its audit.”
Wall Street: “Prices for charter-school bonds have risen this year.”
Washington’s teachers innovate every day in public school classrooms across the state! This WEA video highlights just a few (any non-educators who thinks we need charter schools to foster innovation should take a look).
Read. Rep. Marcie Maxwell’s 21 reasons we don’t need charter schools here in Washington.
Read the NAACP’s resolution opposing charter schools.
Watch this YouTube video from the legislative session. Charter school legislation failed — again.
Listen to a message from Renton teacher Freedom Johnson.
Read the list of Washington state groups that oppose charter schools.
Here’s a long list of Washington’s innovative schools.