Jay Inslee seemingly does not understand that charter schools are, by definition in the initiative that created them, public schools. Instead Inslee relies on the false reasoning that charter schools are not public schools to justify his refusal to call a special legislative session to address the state Supreme Court’s recent ruling striking down charter schools as unconstitutional.
Inslee showed his basic ignorance in a statement,
“My focus will remain on basic education… Some families look to charter schools out of frustration with their local public school. The answer is to remain committed to improving our public K-12 system and making sure every child has a local public school that meets his or her needs.”
Inslee implies charter schools are not a priority
The implication of Inslee’s statement is, of course, that charter schools are not public schools and therefore should not be a priority. Notably, Inslee claims that the top priority should be “making sure every child has a local public school that meets his or her needs.”
Ironically, that’s exactly why Washingtonians passed the charter school initiative in 2012. The reality is that the public school system in Washington State is failing to meet the needs of every child. Charter schools sought to provide some remedy to the problems which inadequate public schools have failed to address, specifically for disadvantaged children.
That’s not to mention the fact that more than 53,000 students aren’t in school for another week as the Seattle teachers’ union continues to illegally strike over the union bosses desire for exorbitant raises (and thus more union dues). The illegal strikes do not exactly instill confidence in the notion that local public schools are dedicated to meeting the needs of every child.
State Attorney General’s office warns of unintended consequences
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has asked the court to reconsider its decision. The Attorney General’s office warns that the ruling “unnecessarily calls into question the constitutionality of a wide range of other state educational programs.” Examples of at-risk educational programs include Running Start and “centers that provide career and technical education to high-school students.”
According to the court’s confused decision, charter schools are not “common schools” because they are governed by appointed rather than elected boards. Therefore, charter schools are not “entitled to public money exclusively intended for ‘common schools’ and can’t tap the state’s general fund either, because the state can’t tell which dollars come from which sources, the court ruled.”
The problem with that reasoning is that, currently, other educational programs that do not meet the court’s definition of “common school” receive public money from the general fund. The Seattle Times,
“Running Start, for example, is a 25-year-old program paid out of the general fund that allows high-school students to earn both high-school and college credit by taking classes at state community colleges, which are run by trustees appointed by the governor. The program is in 458 schools and serves almost 20,000 students, according to the superintendent’s office.”
The court isn’t likely to reverse its decision, a reality that makes Inslee’s decision not to act still more frustrating. Inslee appears to be so beholden to the Washington Education Association (WEA) that he cannot admit the truth: charter schools are public schools that deserve to be prioritized.
Sadly, Inslee is more concerned with appeasing his million-dollar campaign donor than representing Washingtonians who voted for charter schools. Simply put, Inslee refuses to prioritize improving education for disadvantaged children.