Mayor Durkan denies free ORCA cards to public charter school students

Sep 12, 2018

Last week, with great fanfare, Mayor Durkan enthusiastically announced that Seattle will give free ORCA Metro cards to all Seattle public high school students.  Her announcement says in part:

"…Seattle’s youth have been calling for greater transportation equity for a number of years, and I heard them. At my first State of the City address, I announced that we would put a free ORCA card into the hands of every Seattle public high school student – and this week, we did.

Our youth asked for it, and the City delivered.”

But she isn’t giving an ORCA card to every high school student.  Mayor Durkan is denying this public benefit to children who attend public charter schools in the city.  Far from providing “equity,” her policy of discrimination targets students who are historically underserved by traditional schools.  

Her decision falls hardest on poor families and children of color; two-thirds of charter school students are low-income, minority children. Her discrimination policy affects roughly 1,000 families attending Seattle’s four public charter schools. These schools are popular with parents, and have waiting lists, especially in neighborhoods with low-quality public schools.

All students deserve a chance at a great public education.  Charter school parents want a quality education for their children, just as much as parents at traditional schools.  Equal opportunity can start by letting charter schools participate in the city’s free ORCA card program. 

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