For Immediate Release | August 3, 2016
CONTACT: Cynara Lilly at (206) 915-7821
Lawsuit flies in the face of voters, bipartisan legislative effort to save local public schools
El Centro de la Raza, League of Women Voters, unions attempt to close schools serving low-income communities and students of color
SEATTLE, Wash. – In response to a lawsuit today filed by El Centro de la Raza in the King County Superior Court, the Washington State Charter Schools Association (WA Charters) released the following statement:
Together with our partners in education advocacy, including The League of Education Voters, Stand for Children, and Democrats for Education Reform, we condemn this suit as nothing more than an intimidation tactic designed to preserve a broken status quo and scare our teachers, families and students. Our state’s new charter public school law is the product of the Legislature’s bipartisan effort to save our state’s charter public schools – schools designed to address equity and opportunity gaps for students of color and from low-income backgrounds whose families are seeking better public education options. We are confident that the bipartisan law passed by the Legislature meets the constitutional threshold laid out by the courts. We are disappointed that any organization would be interested in blindly closing public school doors on students who are finally thriving.
Our focus remains on ensuring that charter public schools continue to deliver excellent education and close persistent equity and opportunity gaps, not on playing games with special interest groups that seem determined to defend a system that we know is not working for too many of our promising youth. We are confident that Washington State now has one of the strongest charter public school laws in the country, and we are as determined as ever to keep fighting for Washington’s families and the high-quality public school options they deserve.
WA Charters intends to file a motion to intervene in the case. Following a successful first year serving students, Washington’s charter public schools are expanding and adding grade levels and are a vital part of Washington’s public education system. School starts the week of August 15th.
About Washington’s Public Charter Schools
Charter schools are a type of public school, approved and overseen by a state or district authorizer. Like all public schools, they do not charge tuition, they are open to all students, and they are publicly funded. However, charter public schools are held more accountable for showing improved student achievement. In exchange for greater accountability, teachers and principals are given more flexibility to customize their teaching methods and curriculum to improve student learning.
Washington’s charter public schools are helping to close the education equity gap. More than 67 percent of charter public school students in Washington are students of color, as compared to 43 percent statewide. Two-thirds of charter public school students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, as compared to 45 percent statewide. At four of Washington’s charter public schools, this number exceeds 70 percent.
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. According to mid-year assessment results, students at Washington’s charter public schools were making impressive gains in reading and math in their first year at their new schools.