Enough House Democrats decided that it’s in their best re-election interest to support voter-approved public charter schools. Ten Democrats broke off from their party to pass a bill to save charter schools in our state after the state Supreme Court sought to strike them down in a highly partisan decision in September.
The bill (House Bill 2367) was sponsored by Republican Rep. Chad Magendanz (Issaquah) and is the companion bill to Senate Bill 6194, passed by the state Senate back in January. The measure will resolve issues that caused the court to rule public charter schools as unconstitutional by changing the way the schools are funded.
Slight amendments were made to the original bill, which means it will go back to the state Senate for final approval. Luckily, the state Senate is controlled by Republicans so there is no chance of the bill stalling like it did in the House.
The Democrats who voted for public charter schools are:
- Judy Clibborn
- Chris Hurst
- Ruth Kagi
- Kristine Lytton
- Jeff Morris
- Eric Pettigrew
- David Sawyer
- Tana Senn
- Larry Springer
- Pat Sullivan
Just to be clear, the fact that only 10 Democrats voted for the bill means that a whopping 39 Democrats voted against saving schools that help underprivileged students. A total of 39 Democrats wanted to prevent over 1,300 current charter school students from continuing to attend their schools. And, a 39 Democrats chose to place a major campaign donor (the Washington Education Association) ahead of what is proven to be an important part of our public school system: charter schools.
Nevertheless, by loosening the grasp of the WEA, this is a victory for education in our state. As Magendanz states, “These innovative schools allow many otherwise disadvantaged students to get a quality education. Students who may have struggled in a rigid public school system are given the opportunity to be successful with new styles of teaching and encouragement.”
It’s unclear how the WEA will react, but we expect it will continue to fight public charter schools in our state.