Any charter school is one too many for state teachers' unionFebruary 27, 2013 @ 5:38 pm (Updated: 5:39 am - 2/28/13 )
The Washington Education Association is challenging the law voters approved last fall to create up to 40 charter schools in the state within the next five years.
The WEA, which represents about 82,000 teachers in our state, didn't like the result of the public vote on Initiative 1240. While it was close - 50.7 percent of the voters in favor, 49.3 percent opposed - the measure to allow public charter schools in Washington passed.
Along with the WEA, the League of Women Voters of Washington and El Centro de la Raza sent a complaint letter to Attorney General Bob Ferguson challenging the constitutionality of the state's new charter school law.
They say it violates the state constitution by "improperly diverting public school funds to private non-profit groups" that could potentially set up a charter school. Although, public schools could also create a specialty charter school.
"The Charter School Act drains money from public schools to privately run charter schools that aren't accountable to local voters -- taking away the right of citizens to elect representatives to oversee the spending of their taxes," says Catherine Ahl with the League of Women Voters.
A letter to the AG's office lists seven ways the charter schools law violates the constitution, in their view.
Their bottom line is, "the Charter School Act is an unconstitutional law that impedes the State's progress toward fully funding public education and places even greater pressure on school districts to fill this gap."
The Attorney General is not buying it.
"We all share the desire to provide the highest quality education for our children," Ferguson says in a statement. "As the state's attorney, it's my responsibility to defend the will of the voters and I will be directing my legal team to do so in this case."
If the AG's office doesn't act, the group says it will file a lawsuit in Superior Court.
Washington has over one-million students enrolled in public schools. About 73,000 students go to private schools, and another 15,000 are homeschooled. Voters decided in November to add charter schools as an option, with a priority given to schools and communities that serve at-risk students.
By LINDA THOMAS
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