For Immediate Release | February 25, 2016
Education committee votes down bill as kids watch; 15 days remain to save schools
OLYMPIA, WA — A bill that would save public charter schools and reinstate the 2012 voter-approved law was killed by Democrats in the House of Representatives Education Committee this morning. The decision came as more than 500 parent and student advocates flooded the campus to urge legislators to support high-performing, innovative public charter schools. Ten democrats voted no on the bipartisan senate bill (SB 6194) as students looked on.
“The urgency to act to fix this mess has never been greater,” said Tom Franta, CEO of the Washington State Charter Schools Association (WA Charters). “The legislature is directly responsible for keeping these schools open. Thousands of families are in limbo across the state because of a court decision to reverse the will of the voters. It’s time for the legislature to stand up for kids.”
WA Charters is calling for legislators to pass a bill that mirrors the voter-approved law overturned by courts last fall, with a fix to a funding provision. The bill would meet voter expectations by:
- Keeping current schools open and serving over 1,000 students.
- Allowing for up to 40 public charter schools over five years as approved by Washington voters. (Communities in Walla Walla, West Seattle, the Yakima Valley and elsewhere are waiting for the legislature to act so they can move forward on plans to open new schools in underserved communities.)
- Giving all students and parents access by maintaining a statewide authorizer.
“Anything short of what the voters approved would be tantamount to closing schools,” said Franta. “The voters didn’t ask for shortcuts, temporary patches, or closed doors—they asked for access to innovative schools for every community. The future of our 1,100 students and countless more families around the state rests in legislators’ hands.”
About Act Now for Washington Students
Act Now for Washington Students is a 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 kids.
About Washington’s Public Charters
Washington’s public charter schools are helping to close the education equity gap. Nearly two-thirds of students in public charter schools are from low-income families and almost 70% are students of color. Allowing public charter schools to close down will disproportionately affect families who turned to charters because their child’s needs were not being met.
The 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.