Last week Attorney General Bob Ferguson asked Chief Justice Madsen, and Justices Johnson, Owens, Wiggins, Stephens, and Yu of the state supreme court to reconsider their ruling striking down charter schools. AG Ferguson's excellent analysis shows these six justices have made serious errors which, if uncorrected, will hurt charter schools and other innovative school programs in Washington.
Five Washington Attorneys General, past and present and representing both parties, say the state supreme court’s decision striking down the voter-approved charter school law is wrong. They note that from a legal standpoint the decision is flawed, disruptive and unfair to families, and that its newly-invented “common schools” doctrine is pointless.
As public schools in Washington experience turmoil (as The New York Times puts it), due to recent court decisions, Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat points to what he says may be one source of the problem – campaign donations from special interests to state judges.
Right before the start of the Labor Day weekend, the state supreme court, in a 6-3 decision, declared unconstitutional the voters’ charter school law, passed in 2012. With this decision, the court has denied public funding to the 1,300 children enrolled in Washington’s 9 charter schools, cancelled the opening of more charter schools, and hurt the children and families with the least political power and influence in our state. Washington Policy Center calls upon the Governor and other legislative leaders to make the technical fix required to restore public funding to charter schools.
As the days grow shorter and the nights grow cooler, families across Washington prepare for a yearly ritual, getting kids ready to go back to school. And too many families have to prepare for a different ritual – when a union-led teacher strike hits their local school.
As predictably as the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano, teacher strikes close schools in parts of Washington each year with depressing regularity.
Eight new charter public schools are opening this fall in Seattle, Tacoma, Kent, Highline and Spokane. Together the schools will serve more than 1,300 students. The schools are authorized under a state law approved by voters in 2012 to provide expanded educational opportunities for children, especially those from low-income families and underserved communities.
Parents like Tam Nguyen, mother of a 5th grade boy, and Natalie Hester Johnson, whose daughter is entering high school, say they asked “tons of questions” before enrolling their children in a charter school.
Over Memorial Day, as most people were distracted by holiday plans, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn was working to burden charter schools and their families with 119 pages of new rules.
Today the state Attorney General filed the state’s answer to Superintendent Randy Dorn’s brief to the state Supreme Court in the McCleary case, adding to the post-legislative-session reports to the Court about school funding. The AG sharply criticizes the Superintendent’s plan to shut down government, pointing out Dorn’s plan would cause children to go hungry:
In a recent Facebook post, education policy leader Rep. Chad Magendanz (R-Issaquah) noted that state supreme court justices may soon decide to impose a punishment on him and fellow lawmakers for failing to fund public schools. He asks readers, “What do you feel might be appropriate sanctions for the Court to impose at this point?”