-- ERIC NORDLOF, Kennewick
I do not support charter schools, for a variety of reasons. Most important, the charter-school concept siphons my tax dollars away from the public schools where I live (Kennewick), and takes away my democratic right to have input into the process whereby those tax dollars are spent. In Washington state, we have a long tradition of local control of our schools. That's why we have a somewhat inefficient patchwork of 289 (plus or minus a few) school districts in the state. I don't want to give that up. If I don't like the way that my local school board is running our schools, I can vote for someone else at the next election. That won't happen with charter schools, as they are proposed now. The governing authority of those schools will be appointed by politicians on a statewide basis, and I seriously doubt that any of my representatives from the 8th District will even have a say in those appointments.
I have taken the time to read the charter schools initiative. It's 40 pages long, by the way, and contains a lot of stuff that isn't reflected in the few paragraphs of the ballot description. I'm retired, and a good 50 percent of all the property taxes that I pay go to support the Kennewick School District. I am pleased to pay those taxes, because I have a firm belief in quality public education. It's an earmark of a civilized society. I worked in education most of my career, and I am a certified teacher as well. In general, our public schools do a pretty good job, despite the bad press they constantly receive. Yes, there is a little too much bureaucracy at the top end, and the regulatory scheme can be over-complicated. However, are we going to fix those relatively minor issues with a new 40-page law?
The whole proposal reminds me of our recent liquor-privatization debacle. I'm voting NO on 1240.