Coalition Applauds Bipartisan Senators' Commitment to Seek Charter School Solution
As the Washington legislature gears up next week for a short, two-month session, Stand for Children and our coalition partners with Act Now for Washington Students have already had some good news about charter school funding. Today a bipartisan group of legislators announced a proposal that reinstates charter school funding through the state’s Opportunity Pathways Account, which contains lottery revenues not restricted to common schools.
Sens. Steve Litzow (R - Mercer Island), Joe Fain, (R - Auburn), Mark Mullet (D - Issaquah), and Steve Hobbs (D - Lake Stevens) jointly proposed the bill, which will receive a public hearing in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, January 12, the second day of the 2016 legislative session, at 1:30 p.m.
Dave Powell, Government Affairs Director for Stand, expressed appreciation for quick response of legislators, “We believe this shows a real commitment by leaders in Olympia to solve the funding problem and keep these schools open for the 1,110 children currently attending public charter schools as well as countless families statewide whose kids have yet to benefit from this school option.”
Act Now for Washington Students also released a statement yesterday thanking Sens. Billig and Baumgartner for filing the first proposed legislation that addresses the issue and reflects the urgency to make sure that school doors stay open, noting that the two should be commended “for their efforts to keep public charter schools open, and for recognizing the urgent need to fix the mess that threatens public charters schools and has left Washington communities in limbo. The imperative to keep these local public schools open is quickly becoming one of the most critical issues legislators will face this session.” Billig and Baumgartner’s proposal, while well-intentioned, provides a limited solution that does not likely extend far enough to help schools outside of the Spokane area.
“Public charter schools provide a meaningful opportunity for students – especially minority children from low-income families – who are disproportionately failed by Washington’s inequitable public school system,” said Litzow, chairman of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee, in his announcement of the bill earlier today. “Education quality – and inequality – is the paramount concern for students, parents, teachers, and lawmakers as well as voters, who made Washington the 42nd state to allow charter schools. No single reform will alone ensure we can meet Washington’s duty to provide a high-quality education to all children. Historic investments for public education in 2015, the expansion of charter schools and other research-based reforms supporting our most at-risk students will help close the state’s opportunity gap and strengthen the entire public education system.”
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.