Washington state, ahead of the national curve in so many areas of public policy, is a notable laggard on the issue of charter schools. Washington finally joined 41 other states and the District of Columbia in authorizing the schools last November, when voters narrowly approved Initiative 1240.
A charter school is a public school that is open to all students but operates independently of district management and administrative rules. Initiative 1240 is a targeted approach, more of a pilot program, with tight guidelines and accountability measures.
Nonprofit organizations or school district boards could set them up; there will be no religious charter schools. A new state agency, the Charter School Commission, is now accepting applications, and it stands to get at least two from the Yakima Valley.
One, from a group called Charter Schools of Sunnyside, last month held an informational meeting that attracted about 50 people, including 15th District state Rep. Bruce Chandler. A second group, the Yakima-based Cesar Chavez Charter School Foundation, would gear its dual-language curriculum toward Latino and migrant students.