-- JANET BELL, Kennewick
I do not in any way support charter schools. I am a teacher, and like many teachers I read extensively about education research and issues. And in my research, I have discovered that charter schools are not some magic solution for public education. In the 41 states that have charter schools there are many who are dissatisfied with the charter schools available to them, and are deeply distressed that the public school they could depend on in their neighborhood has been destroyed because charter schools were allowed into their community.
In researching the money behind this initiative, you discover Bill Gates has put millions into this campaign, starting with paying $5 per signature to get the initiative on the ballot. His hostility towards public schools is well known. Other supporters include the Waltons, who would like nothing better than to destroy teachers unions, which would further weaken other unions.
Charter schools can be operated without any sort of input from parents and no oversight at all by local school boards. Yet they can drain not only state money away from districts, but can even drain levy dollars raised by the efforts of local citizens.
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To improve education in Washington, we need to begin by fully funding education. Charter schools are a step in the wrong direction because it would funnel money at the state and local level without being accountable to the communities in which they operate. Local school districts have been cut to the bone, and sometimes even into the bone. How could taking additional money away from schools improve education?
Finally, it is time to put to death the lie that public schools are failing. Graduation rates are higher than they have ever been. Furthermore, most parents are satisfied with their neighborhood school. So why would voters allow someone to come in and jeopardize their local school? Why gamble state and local tax money on an idea that has failed in so many other places?
I urge all citizens to reject charter schools in Washington State.