For Immediate Release | Friday, February 17, 2017
Contact: Maggie Meyers at (724) 263-9826 or Cynara Lilly at (206) 915-7821
WA Charters Statement on Ruling in El Centro de la Raza v. State of Washington
“Voters, legislature, courts have spoken”
“Excited to focus on what is most important: educating our kids”
SEATTLE, Wash. – Today’s decision in the latest lawsuit against charter public schools, El Centro de la Raza v. Washington State, upholds the constitutionality of Washington’s charter public school law. Judge John H. Chun’s ruling affirms the work of families, voters, and state legislators to keep charter public schools open to students across the state.
Today’s decisive win follows years of Washington’s charter public schools triumphing over attacks from their opponents. Charter public schools have been supported again and again by voters and legislators in Washington state, first winning at the ballot box in 2012, and then at the state legislature last year when a bipartisan effort led to the Charters School Act, the state’s current charter public school law. With today’s ruling, the constitutionality of the law has now been affirmed by Washington’s courts.
“This is a huge win for kids,” said Tom Franta, CEO, WA Charters. “Charter public schools have been given a stamp of approval from Washington voters, the State legislature, and now the state’s judicial system. With today’s decision, students can return their focus to learning, and parents can rest easy knowing their kids’ schools can continue to provide their kids with the quality public education they deserve.”
Currently, eight charter public schools serve more than 1600 students across the state of Washington. Since opening their doors, these schools have made considerable gains in student outcomes, helping close the education equity gap in communities across the state. With the opening of three more charter public schools in Fall 2017 – one in South Seattle, one in West Seattle and one in Walla Walla – and the continued expansion of existing schools, approximately 2500+ students will be served in the 2017-18 school year.
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. A majority of charter public school students in Washington are students of color, as compared to 43 percent statewide, and a majority of charter public school students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, as compared to 45 percent statewide.
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 2015-16 mid-year and end-of-year assessment results, students at Washington’s charter public schools are making impressive gains in reading and math.