Charter public schools are new in Washington state and that makes them vulnerable to politicians and special interests who don’t understand their unique value.
Take the recent ruling by the WA Supreme Court. Just two years after Washington voters passed an initiative to create 40 charter public schools, the Court cut off funding and threatened to maroon more than 1,100 students. The ruling was unfair and came as a shock to the legal community and charter families.
We partnered with parents, students, educators and activists to launch the Act Now for WA Students campaign to convince Washington’s state legislators to keep the schools open and funded. We made sure lawmakers in Olympia knew the facts:
- Two-thirds of charter public school students are from historically underserved communities of color and families struggling with poverty
- 2015-16 school year data shows remarkable progress in reading and math
- Charter public schools are tuition-free and open to all students
- Washington’s charter public schools are held accountable for student outcomes, and must meet standards that are among the strongest in the nation
We drove home the message when hundreds of students marched on the Capitol and spoke directly to elected officials. Parents like Shirline Wilson, Jessica Garcia and many more shared their personal stories. Thousands signed on to support Washington’s charter public school families. And they were heard.
In April, 2016, SB 6194 became law, addressing the funding concern identified by the Court and creating a pathway for the creation of new innovative charter public schools in Washington.
The Act Now campaign showed how valuable these schools are to Washington families, and why parents and students won’t surrender them without a fight.