Washington state voters in 2012 approved a measure to test whether charter schools — publicly financed schools with different approaches to learning — would be a good investment of tax dollars.
To this point, the effort has been bogged down by lawsuits brought by a coalition of charter school opponents, led by the state’s teachers union.
But last week, a King County Superior Court judge ruled the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Washington’s charter-school law, which was revised by the Legislature after previous legal wrangling, didn’t demonstrate that charter schools are unconstitutional.
The ruling appears solid. It’s time to give charter schools a chance to soar or flounder.
Currently, eight charter schools are open in Washington state, which serve about 1,600 students. Three more charter schools are opening soon, including the Willow School in Walla Walla. Willow, which is set to open this fall, will serve middle school students with a project-based approach.
The anti-charter schools coalition members haven’t decided whether they’ll appeal the King County ruling to the state’s high court, according to The Seattle Times.
Judge John H. Chun ruled ruled that charter schools are accountable to elected officials. School districts can apply to be charter-school authorizers, he said, and schools can be authorized by the statewide Commission on Charter Schools, which includes the state superintendent and other members appointed by elected officials.
“We’d hope that plaintiffs will join us in focusing on ensuring that Washington provides great public school options to all kids,” Maggie Meyers, spokeswoman for the charter group, told the Tacoma News Tribune. “The time for politics is over.”
Washington state’s education establishment needs to realize that learning options benefit all.
Rather than wasting time, energy and money fighting against charter schools, the teachers union and others should join in efforts to improve and evolve education efforts — including charter schools.
Since 41 other states have found success with charter schools, it only make sense that Washington state allow the concept to work here to benefit students who are not well served by the current education system.