“EVERYONE’S pencil should be on the apple in the tally-mark chart!” shouts a teacher to a class of pupils at Harvest Preparatory School in Minneapolis. Papers and feet are shuffled; a test is coming. Each class is examined every six or seven weeks. The teachers are monitored too. As a result, Harvest Prep outperformed every city school district in Minnesota in maths last year. It is also a “charter” school; and all the children are black.
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I can think of two million reasons to support charter public schools. That’s the number of children whose parents have decided a charter school is the best educational choice for their child.
Today there are 5,600 charter schools in the 41 states that don’t ban them. Enrollment is growing at a rate of 7.5% a year. The number of students on a charter school waiting list has jumped to 600,000, enough to fill an additional two thousand schools.
OLYMPIA — Supporters of charter schools in Washington presented petitions to the secretary of state Friday morning, trying once again to qualify for the ballot.
In less than three weeks, paid and volunteer signature gatherers said they collected more than 350,000 Washington voter signatures, which if validated would be more than enough to secure a place on the November ballot for Initiative 1240. If voters approve it, the initiative will establish up to 40 public charter schools in the state. …
Efforts are under way to place an initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot that would ask voters to allow 40 public charter schools around the state in five years. Supporters have until July 6 to gather almost 250,000 signatures. It’s a worthwhile effort and a modest proposal, a mere foot in the door in Washington, one of just eight states that do not have charter schools.
Before explaining why this is a good idea, we will first point out that this is precisely why the initiative process is important in our state. The Columbian believes the premier function of initiatives is not necessarily to change laws but more effectively to force action after the Legislature has refused to act.
In Washington, charter schools are like most late library books: overdue without a good excuse.
The state ought to have them. Most others do.
Under this initiative, charters can’t exclude students who wish to attend, nor charge tuition. Funding is based on per-student enrollment, just like traditional public schools. Nonprofit entities run the schools and can hire and fire teachers, but the students are expected to meet the same academic standards.
…We agree that money alone won’t deliver a world-class education to all of Washington’s students. The fact that better than 1 in 4 students don’t graduate from high school on time isn’t just a funding issue. Innovation has to be part of the solution.
Yet Washington has long resisted bold efforts for change in education, whether pushed by business groups or bipartisan coalitions of teachers, parents, community leaders and other education advocates. Still, such a group has organized for one more try, this time filing an initiative to allow a limited number of public charter schools.
The charter schools ballot initiative proposed for the November election was born out of parental frustration with the Legislature’s failure to move on a key education reform.
The effort is not a Democratic strategy, although many in the party support it, but an educational strategy acknowledging that our schools aren’t working for all students. Let lawmakers and the state teachers union argue about money and control. The bottom line: Our schools need new and creative approaches.
The charter proposal is thoughtful. A coalition of education-advocacy groups behind the effort is seeking a maximum of 40 public charter schools over five years, operated by qualified nonprofits and overseen by a local school board or a special state commission. The schools would be free and open to everyone.
SEATTLE — A coalition of Washington education groups on Tuesday filed a citizen initiative asking voters to allow 40 public charter schools in the state over the next five years.
The coalition including the League of Education Voters, Stand for Children and Democrats for Education Reform has until July 6 to collect nearly 250,000 valid voter signatures.