I-1240 Makes the Goal of a High Quality Public Education For All Students More Possible

It’s never easy to dismantle entrenched power structures. Initiative 1240, Washington’s experimental toe dip into charter schools, promises to be serious heavy lifting.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
— Frederick Douglass, 1857

The famed abolitionist was right: Dismantling power structures isn’t easy work. When it comes to reshaping public education, it’s heavy lifting.

Initiative 1240, Washington’s experimental toe dip into charter schools, promises to be serious heavy lifting. Opponents are not going to concede and agree to even a limited, publicly accountable experiment in an education system still structured and governed as it was 100 years ago. …

There’s the argument that these nontraditional public schools siphon money from existing schools. That’s a divisive tactic. We don’t worry that special education, alternative schools or programs for gifted students siphon away funds when students leave one school for another in search of those programs. And the biggest drain on school money? The dropout rate. Schools can’t collect money for students who are not enrolled. …

On education, the long arc of history is on our side. The public is asking for equal and full access to a high-quality education. More than 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education, we understand that to grant that dream, we’re going to have to reshape and reform the public schools. I don’t want anyone to be under the misconception that charters is all we’re asking for. …

Decades from now, we will be surprised we were so nervous about innovating our schools and spreading our educational good fortune to all kids. We’ll be surprised that any of us were so close-minded as to be on the wrong side of education history.

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