Highline School Board Director attacks charter school law
On Friday, July 12, Highline School Board Director Susan Goding wrote a short article against allowing charter schools, “Authorizing charter schools makes no business sense for school districts.” You can read the article here. This article is a clear attempt to discourage implementation of the new charter school law.
This statement shows an elected school board director actively campaigning to influence school districts to deny their students access to charter schools. Director Goding wrongly suggests school districts would not be compensated for the administrative cost of overseeing charter schools. Actually, Districts will receive 4% of charter school budgets to cover administrative oversight.
Director Goding’s opposition to charter schools echoes the hostile stance taken by her professional association, the Washington State School Directors Association. This group actively opposed the charter school initiative during the campaign last fall and called for its defeat, as I discuss here.
On July 3, the WEA union launched a lawsuit attacking the voters’ charter school law.
Hints of a broader whispering campaign against the voter’s charter school law first appeared July 1, when 12 of 13 interested districts dropped or delayed their charter school application, as I reported here. While a number of smaller districts clearly faced difficulties meeting the short deadline of July 1, even larger districts, like Kent, Tacoma, Highline, Bellevue and Yakima, also failed to follow through. Powerful groups inside public education like WSSDA and WEA have been working against charters behind the scenes. Perhaps local administrators fear the reaction of union officials as they recall the painful memories of recent teachers’ strikes targeting students in Kent, Tacoma, and Bellevue.
Spokane Public Schools is now the only district able to open a charter school in 2014-15. In response, look for WEA union executives to possibly target Spokane for a teachers’ strike.
The ongoing effort against charter schools by powerful education interest groups represents a worrying trend. During the campaign against I-1240, activists said “The voters already voted on charter schools (in 2004, when a charter school ballot measure failed), let’s respect their will.” Well, today the voters have spoken again, this time in support of charter schools. Yet these same well-funded groups are now seeking to overturn the voters’ will. Washington voters and parents clearly want charter schools as a public education option. That is why implementation of the new charter school law is so important.
This report is a part of Washington Policy Center’s I-1240 Follow-Up Project.