The last few weeks have been an exciting and active time for the movement to bring high-quality public charter schools to Washington state. We have seen some good news coverage, touching on a number of important stories related to public charter schools. Here’s a round-up of the most relevant stories from the last few weeks.
Spokane school board approves first charter application (The Spokesman-Review): Earlier this month, Spokane Public Schools approved the state’s first public charter school. The district approved Pride Prep, led by WA Charters Fellow Brenda McDonald. Spokane board President Jeff Bierman remarked, “We are honored to have been the first in the state to authorize a charter.” It’s the only school east of the Cascade Mountains approved in this first round.
New Investments Help Give Public Charter Schools in Washington a Strong Start: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced new investments to ensure public charters in Washington state start off strong—including a grant to help WA Charters expand our support for local leaders looking to open charter schools. The foundation also invested in Green Dot and Summit Public Schools, two high-quality charter management organizations; nonprofits providing support in special education and building strong boards; and Spokane Public Schools to help the district ensure that the charter schools it authorizes meet the highest standards.
Spokane also received a District-Charter Collaboration Compact grant from the Gates Foundation to promote collaboration between the district’s charter schools and district schools.
Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter School Laws: The Washington state charter law was ranked as the sixth strongest (out of 43, including Washington, D.C.) in the nation by the National Alliance for Public Charter schools (NAPCS). NAPCS uses a number of criteria for determining a strong charter law, including a variety, transparency, and accountability for public charters.
Washington State Charter Commission Approves Seven Charters (Donna Blankinship): The Charter School Commission approved seven public charter schools on January 30. The approved schools are Rainier Prep and SOAR Academy, applications submitted by WA Charters Senior Fellows; Excel Public Charter School, submitted by one of our Aspiring Leaders; First Place, a school focused on trauma-impacted children; and Green Dot Public Schools and Summit Public Schools (two schools), two of the highest-performing CMOs in the country.