Traditional Schools Working Well for Some, Not for All – Public Charter Schools Can Change That

Oct 7, 2012 | News, Opinion

As an involved parent of students who attend public schools, and as an active member of the Parent-Teacher Association both locally and statewide, I’m a strong supporter of our public school system and its teachers. That’s why I support a “yes” vote on Initiative 1240, which will allow more public school options for parents, students and teachers in our state.

I-1240 will finally allow the option of public charter schools in Washington, just like 41 other states already have. Public charter schools are an important public school option that students in Washington deserve to have.

Public charter schools are independently managed public schools operated by approved nonprofit organizations and overseen by a local school board or a state commission. They are tuition-free and open to all students, and receive funding based on student enrollment, just like traditional public schools do.

Public charter schools are subject to the same academic standards as traditional public schools, and their teachers are held to the same certification requirements as teachers in other public schools. However, charter schools are provided more flexibility to meet the individual needs of their students, and in making decisions about budgeting, staffing, curriculum and scheduling. This flexibility is an important option for parents, teachers and students.

Based on the best

I-1240 is based on the best charter school laws in other states that have allowed their charter schools to achieve outstanding results. Because of that, I-1240 brings the best of what’s working in other states to Washington, including strict accountability and oversight, and measures to encourage and assure community and parent involvement and support. I-1240 also assures parent representation on the state charter school commission. Our traditional public schools are working well for many students, but not for all. Every year, more than 14,000 Washington students drop out of school. More than a thousand of those kids drop out right here in Clark County.

We can do more — and we need to do more — to help all children succeed in our public schools. Public charter schools across the country are demonstrating success and helping thousands of students who might otherwise fall through the cracks. Numerous studies have shown that public charter schools have “cracked the code” when it comes to helping struggling students stay in school and graduate prepared for college or a career.

I-1240 is supported by a bipartisan coalition of teachers, parents, legislators, education advocates and community leaders across our state, and has already been endorsed by major newspapers across Washington.

It’s time to allow parents and students in our state the option of public charter schools as part of our public education system — just like parents and students in most other states already have.

…[I] hope you will join me and other parents across our state in voting “yes” on 1240.

Jeanette Muck is a former legislative director for the Washington state PTA. She lives in Vancouver and is a parent of two boys who attend local public schools.