For Immediate Release | March 10, 2016
Advocates: This Is a Huge Victory for Washington Kids
OLYMPIA — In an 11th hour vote, legislators in the Washington State House of Representatives acted to save public charter schools, voting to end the six-month debacle that thrust more than 1,100 students and families into limbo. The bill, SB 6194, which passed with bipartisan support, now travels to the Senate for final approval before hitting the Governor’s desk. The bill, which was introduced late Tuesday by public school champion Rep. Larry Springer (D – Kirkland), restores much of the voter-passed Initiative 1240, keeps existing public charter schools open, and opens a path for the thousands of families across the state still waiting for their chance to benefit from these innovative public schools.
“On behalf of the teachers, school leaders, students and families that have spent months of persistent and impassioned effort to keep the doors of opportunity open for Washington students, we are in incredibly grateful to our champions in Olympia,” said Thomas Franta, CEO, Washington State Charter Schools Association. “But most importantly, I want to thank the families and advocates themselves who worked tirelessly for this result. They should all be immensely proud.”
The bill passed out of the house with a 58 – 39 vote, with Democratic champions standing up for students, despite opponents’ efforts to introduce amendments to close great public schools. “We won’t forget that these leaders did the right thing,” said Shirline Wilson, parent, who is also on the Washington Charters Action PAC board. “Our kids and our communities thank them—and history will be on their side.”
Parents and students across the state now look to the Washington State Senate to affirm the will of the voters and vote “yes” in concurrence on the bipartisan legislation passed by the house to keep all of Washington’s public school students on the path to graduation and success.
Advocates mounted a powerful grassroots campaign, coupled with a paid effort, to call on legislators to reinstate the 2012 law overturned by courts last fall as kids sat in classrooms. The bill that passed today reflects that effort but contains some clear compromises that differ from Initiative 1240. These include:
- The bill eliminates charter school access to local levy moneys;
- The bill removes provisions authorizing the conversion of traditional public schools into charter schools
Stay tuned for updates.