On a sunny but cool day in mid-November, over 400 charter students and their teachers got an opportunity to experience lobbying firsthand with a trip to Olympia. Although the hands-on, direct approach to learning was not new for these kids; meeting with their state legislators and learning about the legislative process was.
Washington public charter school students meet with Senator Steve Hobbs
After an emotionally-charged rally in which middle- and high-school students demanded that legislators “save their schools,” several of the children gave powerful testimony to members of the Washington State Senate Ways & Means and Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee at a work session that day.
Jayden Isabel, a student with Sierra Summit Charter School, was one student whose words stood out in particular, “I have been removed from jobs and schools. I would get kicked out of class just about every day. While I was attending another big public school I got in trouble so much to the point where they changed my schedule so that I was on campus less…today instead of being outside of class and kicking garbage cans when I’m mad; I’m actually in class doing my work and asking college ready questions. Instead of hanging out and getting distracted with friends after school; I am now staying for office hours and checking in with my teachers until 5 pm every day.”
Listening to the words of Jayden and other public charter school students, one can see their commitment to their own education. Frankly, it’s inspiring. Because many of these kids come from underserved communities with lower than average graduation rates.
Seventy percent of the charter school students are from families of color and two thirds qualify for free or reduced school lunch. Many, like Jayden, had stories about being unmotivated in the traditional class room environment and shared an enthusiasm for the education they receive through the new public Washington charter schools.
Later that day, as the kids were getting into their busses to go home, the Supreme Court elected not to reconsider their unfair ruling that charter school funding violates mandates outlined in our state constitution due to the fact that the schools have appointment rather than elected school boards.
That leaves it in the hands of our state legislators to Stand for Children on funding for Washington charter schools. We’ll be in Olympia, alongside our partners in the Act Now for Washington Students Coalition, advocating on behalf of these children and their families. Please join us. Sign the petition linked below and follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter to keep up with the latest news.
Sign our petition: http://chn.ge/1NEvrtj