Update on Washington’s new charter school law
Parents, 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, but it’s likely the case will be appealed to the state Supreme Court. 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. Listen or read the recent KUOW story detailing the less-than-stellar track record of some charter applicants.
Charter schools fail to measure up to basic standards.
- Charter schools spend public taxpayer money, yet they’re operated by unelected, privately controlled organizations. Local voters have little say in how charter schools operate or how these groups spend our taxpayer dollars.
- Charter schools divert money and resources from existing public schools at a time the Supreme Court has ordered the state to increase school funding.
- Charter schools cater to a small, select group of students, instead of serving all our community’s kids. Read or listen to this KUOW story about a charter proposal whose requirements will limit which families apply.
- Charter schools overall have not outperformed public schools, according to university research, and they will do little to reduce our state’s class sizes.
We have an obligation to all of our children, not just some. Voters deserve to know our public education dollars are being spent responsibly and effectively, and that the people running our local schools are accountable. Charter schools fall short on all counts.
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.
Public comment at each of the charter school forums is limited to two minutes per speaker and 30 minutes total, and speakers will be selected by lottery. Written comments can be submitted at the hearings or mailed, but the commission is not accepting comments electronically. Written comments must be limited to one page of 12-point text, per the commission’s rules.
WEA supports legal challenge to Charter School Act
A King County Superior Court judge has ruled Washington’s new charter school law is unconstitutional on several counts. WEA is a plaintiff in the case and has played a major role in organizing the coalition challenging the law.
Attorneys will continue to review the Court’s ruling, which likely will be appealed. Meanwhile, charter school applications are proceeding. Below is the coalition news release about the Court’s decision.
Court declares charter school law unconstitutional
A King County Superior Court judge has ruled Washington’s new charter school act is 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.
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.