House Democrats Introduce New Legislation to Keep Public Charter Schools Open, Restore Will of Voters

For Immediate Release | January 28, 2016

Reps. Sawyer and Morris Join Growing List of Democrats Pushing to Save Public Schools

OLYMPIA – The student- and parent-led coalition Act Now for Washington Students is applauding Rep. David Sawyer (D – Lakewood) and Rep. Jeff Morris (D – Mount Vernon) this week for introducing new legislation in the Washington State House of Representatives that would keep public charter schools open and serving diverse communities.

The proposed legislation, House Bill 2824, honors the will of the voters by reinstating the 2012 voter-approved public charter school law, with an updated funding mechanism that addresses the uncertainty that more than 1,100 Washington students and families face as a result of the recent state Supreme Court ruling.

House Bill 2824 is similar in its commitment to reinstate the voter-approved law to Senate Bill 6194, introduced by Sens. Steve Litzow (R – Mercer Island), Mark Mullet (D – Issaquah), Joe Fain (R – Auburn), and Steve Hobbs (D – Lake Stevens), which passed in the Senate last week, with bipartisan support, by a 27-20 margin.

In response to the bill put forth by Reps. Sawyer and Morris, the Act Now for Washington Students coalition issued the following statement:

“Washington’s public charter schools are a vital part of public education in our state, and are already making a real difference for many families, particularly those from underserved communities of color and families struggling with poverty.

“We thank Reps. Sawyer and Morris for their leadership in working to keep these dynamic local schools open. We call on representatives from both sides of the aisle to join them in advancing this important bill so that all Washington families will have the opportunity to choose the public school that best fits the educational needs of their children.

“Students and families from across the state are standing up for their public schools and we are grateful their voices are being heard. We look forward to ramping up our campaign to save public charter schools as this bill moves towards passage.”

About Act Now for Washington Students

Act Now for Washington Students is a student- and parent-led coalition founded in partnership with Democrats for Education Reform, the League of Education Voters, Stand for Children and the Washington State Charter Schools Association, and is dedicated to ensuring that parent, student and voter voices are elevated in the fight to keep public schools open and serving children.

About Washington’s Public Charter Schools

Washington’s public charter schools are helping to close the education equity gap. More than two-thirds of students in public charter schools are from low-income families and more than 70 percent are students of color. Allowing public charter schools to close will disproportionately affect families who turned to charters because their child’s needs were not being met.

The state’s existing public charter schools were created after voters passed a law in 2012 calling for more public school options for Washington families. In some communities, traditional public schools are meeting the needs of local students. But in other communities – particularly communities of color that struggle with poverty – they are not. In Washington, African American, Latino and Native American students are scoring between 15-20 percent lower on state assessments.