Public Charter Bill Advances, Bolsters Hope for Students

For Immediate Release | January 20, 2016

Following Testimony from Students and Parents, Senate Ways & Means Committee Approves Bill to Save Public Charter Schools Statewide

OLYMPIA – After hearing impassioned testimony yesterday, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, from a diverse group of public charter school students, parents, educators, and advocates, the Washington State Senate Ways & Means Committee today approved PSSB 6194, marking another victorious milestone for current and future public charter school families.

“I am thankful that the Committee members listened to the testimonies of students, parents, and educators like me, who already see the tremendous growth in our students as a result of the excellent educational programs at their public charter schools,” said Rosebell Komugisha, a sixth grade teacher at Green Dot Destiny, a charter middle school in Tacoma, where 86 percent of the students are students of color, 83 percent qualify for free or reduced price lunch, and 22 percent receive special education services. “Politics should not keep my students from receiving sufficient funding to continue in an environment that equips them with the skills that they need to be successful members of society.”

The proposed legislation to save public charter schools, introduced by Sens. Steve Litzow (R – Mercer Island), Mark Mullet (D – Issaquah), Joe Fain (R – Auburn), and Steve Hobbs (D – Lake Stevens), and supported by a growing bipartisan group of lawmakers, honors the will of the voters by reinstating the 2012 voter-approved public charter school law, with an updated funding mechanism that would keep schools open and addresses the uncertainty facing public charter schools—as well as other public school options not considered common schools—as a result of the recent state Supreme Court ruling.

The proposed bill now moves to the Senate floor, where advocates anticipate it will be debated and voted on soon. Parents and students will continue to advocate for PSSB 6194 as it advances through the Legislature.

The student and parent-led Act Now for Washington Students coalition commended the bipartisan committee of legislators for taking action to save public charter schools: “The voters spoke in 2012 when they passed a law that would allow for public charter schools to be part of our broader public education system. We commend the bipartisan group of senators who are working to ensure that these schools stay open and that all Washington families will have the opportunity to choose the public school that best fits the educational needs of their children.”