WEA challenges charter school initiative

Here is the news release WEA issued today regarding our opposition to charter schools and I-1240. The challenge will be heard tomorrow (Friday) morning in Thurston County Superior Court.

Washington educators oppose & challenge charter school Initiative 1240, 6/14/12

Representing nearly 82,000 public school educators, the Washington Education Association Board of Directors has voted to oppose Initiative 1240, which would divert taxpayer funding from existing public schools into a new system of unaccountable, experimental charter schools.

Today, WEA filed a legal challenge contesting the ballot title and summary proposed by the state attorney general. The current proposed I-1240 ballot title language is inaccurate and fails to fully describe the initiative. The challenge was filed in Thurston County Superior Court, which has five court days to issue a final ballot title and summary. Once that happens, initiative backers have until July 6 to collect nearly 250,000 valid signatures from Washington voters to qualify for the November ballot. It is unclear who will fund the expensive paid signature drive, which could cost millions of dollars because of the short timeline.

The WEA Board voted to oppose I-1240 because it will divert millions of dollars from existing public schools – ignoring the state Supreme Court’s recent ruling that the state is failing to adequately fund public schools as mandated by the state Constitution.

Also, research shows nearly 40 percent of charter schools perform worse than local public schools and only 17 percent provide better education opportunities for students. Washington voters have rejected taxpayer-funded charter schools three times in recent years.

“Charter schools fail to meet the needs of most students,” said Mary Lindquist, WEA president. “Washington’s teachers care about all students in all public schools. Instead of diverting scarce funding from public schools and spending it on a failed experiment like charter schools, we should be investing more in the innovative public schools we already have. I urge public school supporters to decline to sign Initiative 1240.”

Read a list of innovative Washington public schools. Or watch a YouTube video about the Lincoln Center, a successful non-traditional high school in Tacoma.

Contact: Rich Wood, 253-765-7042

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7 Responses to WEA challenges charter school initiative

  1. SPJC says:

    I voted against the charter school initiative that was on the ballot about 15 years ago or so. Not because I’m against charter schools, but because the way the initiative was written, they would have been doomed to failure if it had passed. The reason was that the local school districts would have retained control of far too much of the per-pupil funding allocated by the state. Under that initiative, charter schools would have been woefully underfunded. I haven’t read the text of the latest initiative, but believe it will probably be a similar scenario. Why not just have a voucher system? Let parents decide what’s best for their children. I’ve been a public school teacher for 25 years and do not believe that the best and brightest would flee our public schools. Indeed, the parents who voice the most satisfaction with the education their children are receiving in my classroom tend to be the parents who are involved in the school, make sure their children do their homework, behave responsibly and come to school physically and mentally ready to learn. Conversely, the parents who complain the most about public schools are those who do not support the school, their child’s learning, and whose children are consistently disruptive of the classroom environment. They would be the ones taking their vouchers elsewhere, if they cared enough to do so. If our society has deemed that it is willing to subsidize the education of all our children, then let it do so. Let the parents be parents and make decisions in their child’s best interest. Don’t worry that some parents will refuse to make those decisions, their children will still come to us by default. Don’t worry about our jobs. There will still be the same number of children to be educated. (Actually there would be more money available since those students currently attending private schools would also be entitled to a voucher.) Indeed, I would consider it an opportunity. I know I’m a good enough teacher to start my own successful school. And without the loss of the funding that is currently being wasted by large district administrative bureaucracies, I could probably afford to give myself a decent raise in salary.

  2. Ellis Reyes says:

    I find it interesting that your statement smears all charter schools by stating that they are all failures because some are failures. Couldn’t the same be said of public schools? Your statement says that nearly 40 percent of charter schools perform worse than local public schools – this means that over 60 percent perform BETTER than local public schools.

    Certainly charter schools are not the answer for every student, but any reasonable assessment of data would show that public schools aren’t either.

    Parents should have options.

  3. Ruth Cordes says:

    It is my understanding the funds to support “Charter Schools” will be coming from the education funds and that it will be considered a “Public School”. As a “Public School” will they take any student? i.e. handicapped, from poor families, will it be interracial? I hope the answer would be YES on all accounts — however, I do not believe they will — they will take only top students. I believe that would be a form of discrimination – so therefore will not vote for this. And any drain on the existing school funds means that all of the other public schools will suffer — not to mention the students not getting a quality education.

  4. kw says:

    Is it true they got their signatures already? While discussing with one of the signature collectors, he said they had 300,000 signatures! How?! Well… I guess by lying. The stuff these people were saying was completely fictional! I took one guy a copy of the initiative after an annoying debate full of false information!

  5. Barbara McPherson says:

    With all due respect to Mr. Gates, he has very specific ideas for education that are very expensive. He has never released study results that show his ideas are effective or what happens to those school communities when his generous $500,000 to $1,000,000 grants go away. How do schools continue to fund these expensive programs and do they ever show the achievement Gates touts they will?

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