If voters pass an initiative allowing charter schools, Washington will become one of the nation’s leaders in its embrace of the nontraditional mode of educating students with public funds.
Under Initiative 1240, charter schools would operate with as much or more flexibility, access to funding and accountability than allowed under laws now on the books in 41 states and the District of Columbia.
That’s what voters will find if they compare the text of the ballot measure with the language of a model charter school law developed by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a pre-eminent booster of the publicly funded, independently run schools.
“Washington would have one of the strongest laws in the country. By strong, we mean it would not only support the growth of charter schools but it would also support quality in the schools,” said Todd Ziebarth, the alliance’s vice president, state advocacy and support.
Ziebarth does an annual ranking of how well state laws comport with the essential elements of the model law. Maine tops the list in 2012, but it appears Washington would occupy the spot in 2013 if the initiative becomes law, he said.
“It’s a game-changer,” he said. “Washington is going to go from sort of the backwater of education reform and charter schools to a place where a lot of folks are looking toward as a place moving forward, both in a bold way and in a smart way.”
“We took the best of what’s out there around the country and tailored it to fit Washington,” said Shannon Campion, executive director of Stand for Children and spokeswoman for the Yes on 1240 campaign. …
“Washington is going to certainly be in the ‘Best Of’ category,” she said.