House Democrat Sawyer Announces Support for Public Charters

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Pierce County democratic leader calls upon fellow legislators to fight for our most vulnerable kids, keep local schools open

Seattle—In response to the state Supreme Court’s recent refusal to reconsider its September decision on charter schools, Rep. David Sawyer (D – Lakewood) has stepped forward to announce his support for Washington’s public charter schools and the more than 1,100 students and families currently being served by them, calling on his fellow legislators to join him in fixing the glitch threatening to shut down nine local public schools across the state.

“A child’s zip code or the color of her skin should not dictate whether or not she will graduate from high school, attend college, or achieve future career success,” said Sawyer in a public statement released on his office website. “As legislators, we need to insist that every child has the opportunity to get a great education. Public charter schools represent a path forward for students who are underserved by our current educational system.”

READ THE COMPLETE STATEMENT HERE.

Rep. Sawyer’s statement highlights the fact that public charter schools, such as Green Dot Destiny Middle School in Pierce County, which falls in his district, are closing the equity gap by providing communities who have traditionally been underserved in school a high-quality education option and a diverse teaching staff. Nearly two-thirds of students in public charter schools are from low-income families and almost 70% are students of color. Allowing public charter schools to close down will disproportionately affect families who turned to charters because their child’s needs were not being met.

Sawyer’s announcement comes on the heels of a Day of Action held on November 19th, during which more than 400 parents, students, and public school advocates traveled to Olympia, met with state representatives and urged legislators on both sides of the aisle to fix the glitch that allowed the Court to rule against the more than 1,100 kids currently attending public charter schools statewide.

“My disappointment at the state Supreme Court’s refusal to reconsider cannot compare with the fear and uncertainty that more than 1,100 Washington families have faced since the court decision this September,” said Sawyer. “Public charter schools provide an invaluable option for Washington families and help close the equity gap. That’s why voters approved public charter schools by 56 percent in the 29th Legislative District and 54 percent in Pierce County at-large.”

Thomas Franta, CEO of the Washington State Charter Schools Association, praised Rep. Sawyer for affirming his commitment to Washington students, stating, “We applaud Rep. Sawyer for doing right by the kids and families not only in Pierce County, but all across our state. These 1,100 students and their families took a courageous step to seek out innovative public schools that meet their needs and will propel them to college and careers. Now it’s our state legislators’ turn to show the same type of courage that Rep. Sawyer and others have demonstrated. The Legislature cannot afford to standby while Washington students, mostly from low-income households and communities of color, lose out on the chance for a better future.”

About Act Now for Washington Students

Act Now for Washington Students is a parent-led coalition founded in partnership with Democrats for Education Reform, the League of Education Voters, Stand for Children and the Washington State Charter Schools Association, and is dedicated to ensuring that parent, student and voter voices are elevated in the fight to keep public schools open and serving kids.

About Washington’s Public Charters

Washington’s public charter schools are helping to close the education equity gap. Nearly two-thirds of students in public charter schools are from low-income families and almost 70% are students of color. Allowing public charter schools to close down will disproportionately affect families who turned to charters because their child’s needs were not being met.

The schools were created after voters passed a law in 2012 calling for more public school options for Washington families. 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.

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