Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Big day for charters in our state . . .

Today, members of the Washington State Board of Education voted to approve the Spokane School District's charter authorizer application making them the first district in the state to gain this authority.  In an earlier post I shared how Spokane was the only district out of the thirteen that indicated an interest to actually apply.  I learned about the vote in a post by Live Finne from the Washington Policy Center, a major supporter of the the initiative granting charter school status in the state.

“Today is a historic day for the board,” said board member Cindy McMullen. “We have approved Spokane as the first school district charter authorizer. The board conducted a rigorous review process and found Spokane’s application to be of very high quality.”

“It is very important that charter schools be done well,” explained Acting Chair Mary Jean Ryan. “Spokane has demonstrated commitment to and passion for creating a portfolio of choice options for students, particularly at-risk populations. They have a clear and compelling vision for chartering that is well aligned with the purpose of Washington’s charter school law, and have shown themselves well-prepared to be a quality authorizer.”

This is certainly a big day for charter school supporters.  It will be interesting to see how Spokane moves forward with this authority; how schools form, the focus of their efforts to support at risk students, and the number and pace of authorization.  As of now the only other organization with the capacity to authorize is the Washington Charter School Commission.

We also need to keep in mind the lawsuit that was filed by a coalition with WEA in the lead that claims charter schools violate the state constitution.  I haven't seen any updates on the status of the suit and would be interested if anyone has additional information.

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