December News Round-up: WA State Charter Schools

Public charter schools have been a hot topic the past few weeks, with stories about charter school applicants and the King County judge upholding our state charter school law. Here’s a round-up of the most relevant stories from the past few weeks. Stay tuned to the blog to keep up-to-date.

Core of Washington State’s Charter Law Upheld, Attorney General Says (Education Week): Last Thursday, most of Washington’s charter school law was upheld as constitutional. Lisa Macfarlane, the Washington state director of Democrats for Education Reform, which supports charter schools, was quoted saying, “We were thrilled with the ruling.”

Editorial: Washington state charter schools get green light from ruling (The Spokesman-Review): Washington’s Initiative 1240 was deemed constitutional by King County Judge Jean Rietschel. Although it was ruled that charter schools aren’t eligible for state construction funding, none of the three charter school applications to Spokane Public Schools requested a facility, so “Beyond the construction issue, it’s all systems go for charter school implementation [in Spokane].”

Judge gives go-ahead for charter schools, but raises funding question (The Seattle Times): Confusion remains about what it means for charters to be part of a public-school system, but not considered common schools. Hugh Spitzer, who teaches state constitutional law at the University of Washington, said the judge wasn’t explicit in whether charter schools can receive money raised through state property taxes. Even if charter schools can’t be financed with property taxes, said House Appropriations Chairman Ross Hunger, “We use all kinds of money to pay for public schools.”

In Our View: Charting a New Course (The Columbian): According to The Columbian, charter schools aim to enhance the state’s public education, not detract from it. It’s likely that Thursday’s ruling will reach the state Supreme Court, but supporters are confident in the language of the law, as it was carefully structured to “enhance the strengths of charter schools while minimizing the drawbacks.”

Backers of local charter schools pleased with court ruling (Yakima Herald): Texas-based nonprofit Por Vida Inc. and Charter Schools of Sunnyside were pleased with the King County Superior Court ruling Thursday. Erin Martin, one of the co-founders of Charter Schools of Sunnyside, said she feels charter schools are one of the best options for “raising the bar in education.”

5 potential charter schools for Yakima County (KIMA TV): Jenny Bade, a mother of three, wants to make sure her young kids get the best education possible. To her, the idea of potential charter schools opening in Yakima County is intriguing, as leaders are looking to bring bilingual education and STEM-based curriculum into the classrooms. One potential school—Inspire Developmental Education Academy—hopes to attract students of farmers and migrant families that are learning English. “They’re going to be future employees in our community businesses and for the economic development of the area,” said Tadeo Saenz-Thompson, founder of Inspire Development.

State’s charter school applications to be posted Monday (The News Tribune): The 19 applications that were received by the November 22 deadline have been vetted by the State Charter School Commission for completeness and are moving on to the full review process. Four of the applications intend to focus on serving in Tacoma or Pierce County. The commission plans to hold public forums throughout January for applicants, parents, and others to offer their comments on the proposed charters.

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