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Charter Schools

Update on Washington’s new charter school law

headondeskParents, taxpayers and educators across Washington all have serious concerns about the creation of new publicly funded, privately run charter schools. WEA is part of a coalition that recently challenged the constitutionality of the state’s new charter school law. A King County Superior Court judge ruled the new law is unconstitutional in several ways.

The case has been appealed to the state Supreme Court, and we’re waiting for a decision that could come anytime. In the meantime, the charter school process is continuing.

ALL of our community’s children deserve a high-quality public education, no matter where they live and regardless of their family background. That means making sure every public school is well funded and has the small class sizes students need to succeed.

And as taxpayers, we expect our local schools to be accountable to local voters.

Instead of diverting taxpayer funding to a handful of privately run charter schools, WEA members believe we need to work together to ensure all of our students get the well-funded, high-quality public education they deserve.

Court declares charter school law unconstitutional

In December 2013, a King County Superior Court judge ruled Washington’s new charter school act was unconstitutional.

Judge Jean Rietschel struck down the core of the Charter School Act by determining that charter schools are not common schools and cannot be funded with state common school funds.

“A charter school cannot be defined as a common school because it is not under the control of the voters of the school district,” Judge Rietschel wrote.

The judge also found that, as a result, charter schools cannot receive restricted common school construction funds from the state.

Attorneys are reviewing the decision, and the case likely will be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

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.

Paul Lawrence and Jessica Skelton of Pacifica Law Group are the lead plaintiff attorneys in the case.

Read Judge Rietschel’s complete ruling.

Read the original complaint here.



Background on I-1240

Initiative 1240 passed in 2012. 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.

Background on charter schools

The truth about Superman and charter schools

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.

Oakland: “Fraud alleged at acclaimed Oakland charter schools”

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 the Stanford charter school study.

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.



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