Charter School Supporters Submit 350,000 Signatures to Put I-1240 on November Ballot

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. …

Charter schools are publicly funded, privately run schools established by qualified nonprofit organizations on a contract basis. If students at a charter school do not meet required performance standards, the school can be shut down. The schools are free and open to all students, and students are chosen by lottery if the school is unable to accommodate all applicants.

Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, is a member of the Yes on 1240 coalition. He said supporters of charter schools have used past defeats to write the best law possible, focusing on flexibility and high standards for success.

It is likely that many charter schools will be established in urban areas to help the most at-risk students, Pettigrew said.

“We’re trying to establish schools where students need it most,” he said. …

…Shannon Campion, executive director of the Washington chapter of the advocacy group Stand for Children, said because the state provides funding to schools on a per-student basis, this funding would still follow children who attend public charter schools. Campion said the focus should not be on money, but on the quality of basic education.

“Not enough kids are getting the strong public education they deserve today,” she said.

Campion said the creation of charter schools will help students receive a better education.

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