Senate Votes to Pass Bill that Saves Public Charter Schools, Hope for Families Grows

For Immediate Release | January 20, 2016

As SB 6194 Moves Out of Senate, Eyes Turn Toward the House

OLYMPIA – Today, a majority of the Senate voted in favor of SB 6194, legislation that would respect the will of Washington voters and save voter-approved public charter schools, signaling an early victory for the students and families who are advocating to keep schools open. The bill passed with bipartisan support by a 27-20 margin and now advances to the House of Representatives for consideration. Senators in support of the bill called on their colleagues to keep public charter schools open as part of a solution that would ensure that all children in Washington have access to a high-quality education.

The student and parent-led Act Now for Washington Students coalition commended the bipartisan group of legislators who voted today to save public charter schools, stating:

“We are grateful to the members of the Senate who have listened to the testimonies of students, parents, and educators, and have taken clear action on behalf of Washington students and recognized the urgency to act now. Today’s advancement of SB 6194 out of the Senate marks a major step forward for current and future public charter school families. The Senate’s actions today may very well have an indelible impact on future generations of Washington students, particularly those from underserved communities who are traditionally left behind.

“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 applaud legislators from both sides of the aisle 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.”

The Senate-approved legislation to save public charter schools, which was introduced by Sens. Steve Litzow (R – Mercer Island), Mark Mullet (D – Issaquah), Joe Fain (R – Auburn), and Steve Hobbs (D – Lake Stevens), 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 address the uncertainty facing public charter schools as a result of the recent state Supreme Court ruling.

“Education quality—and inequality—is the top concern of students, parents, teachers, and lawmakers,” said Litzow. “We must continue to find many innovative ways to ensure all children receive a great education that prepares them to enter and succeed in college and compete for a good job.”

The Legislature is currently in the 10th day of its 60-day 2016 session. Parents and students will continue to advocate for the bill as it advances through the House of Representatives.