Gov. Inslee hints at charter schools support: “I don’t want to shut down schools”

By LIV FINNE  | 
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Mar 8, 2016

In his news conference yesterday Governor Jay Inslee seemed to edge closer to supporting a bill to save Washington’s charter schools, if one is sent to him by the legislature.

Washington’s charter school law was created by popular vote in 2012 (some 1.5 million people voted for it) and many experts see it as one of the best such laws among the 42 states with charter schools.  Today, about 1,200 children in underserved communities attend eight charter schools statewide (in a public system with over 2,300 schools).

In response to a supreme court ruling against charters, a bill to fund charter schools (SB 6194) passed the Republican-controlled Senate earlier this year.  The measure is stalled, however, in the Democratic-controlled House.  If opponents succeed in killing the school rescue bill, Washington would become the first state in the country to close its charter schools.

Yesterday’s comments by the Governor offer a ray of hope to charter school families.  He seems to want to avoid a hard-line stance against these innovative public schools.  He added, “I don't want to shut down schools. I want to see more innovation.  And I want to see accountability to citizens.”

If the House can pass a bill that honors the will of the voters and keeps the intent of our charter school law in place, charter schools in Washington state will be protected.

Then teachers, students and families can spend more time on classroom learning, and less on trying to keep state leaders from closing their schools.

This report is part of WPC’s Charter School Follow-Up Project.