Now that a King County Superior Court judge has ruled that Washington’s charter schools law is constitutional, the detractors of this promising education approach should stand down.
No doubt the coalition, led by the Washington teachers union, is disappointed, but Washington needs to move on from the legal challenges against charter schools.
Charter schools — with more latitude — are a good alternative for children not well served by traditional public schools. Charter schools are also a good place to incubate new education ideas that may work well at all kinds of schools. About 1,600 students attend the eight charter schools in Washington.
The Washington Education Association and its coalition partners who filed suit against Washington’s charter schools law should spend its money and attention on improving education and helping all teachers rise to their potential in the classroom. An appeal to the Washington Supreme Court would just be a waste of time and taxpayer money.
This is their second legal attempt to thwart the will of voters who approved Initiative 1240 in 2012. Just as school was starting in 2015, the state Supreme Court overturned the charter initiative as unconstitutional, saying the schools could not receive money from the state common-schools fund.
The Legislature came up with a remedy to solve that problem by changing the funding source.
Superior Court Judge John H. Chun did not have an issue with the way charter schools are now funded. He also disagreed with the plaintiff’s claims that the schools are not part of a “general and uniform system of public schools,” based on the requirement that they follow the same academic learning requirements and participate in statewide tests. And the judge ruled charter schools are accountable to elected officials because of the way they are authorized.
This is a big victory for charter schools in Washington. Tom Franta, CEO of the Washington State Charter Schools Association, said the ruling means students and their families can relax.
Not quite, but maybe they could if the plaintiffs decide not to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.