This week, Democrat House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan (47th District) recently issued a press release commemorating Education Day in Olympia. Sullivan celebrated the state House’s approval of a handful of bills demanded by the Democrats’ campaign donors at the teachers union, including legislation that addresses the reliance on local levies to pay teachers, teacher shortages, eliminating passage of certain required standardized tests.
Notably missing from Sullivan’s email is any mention of public charter schools and what the Democrat-controlled state House plans to do in order to save them. As Shift reported, the state Senate has already passed a bill that would give voter-approved charter schools a future in our state despite the widely acknowledged flawed ruling by the state Supreme Court.
Unfortunately, top Democrat leaders, including Sullivan, remain silent on the matter, because that’s what their million-dollar campaign donors demand.
Public charter schools offer underprivileged students an advantage they otherwise would not have in a system controlled by the Washington Education Association (WEA). It’s due to the prospect of losing money and power that the WEA has done everything in its power to destroy public charter schools. And, it’s due to the prospect of losing money and power offered by the supporting the WEA that Democrat lawmakers remain either silent or directly oppose public charter schools.
One way or another, House Democrats like Sullivan – whose suburban King County district supported the charter school initiative, will have to address the problems caused by the court’s ruling on public charter schools. If allowing 1,300 children to attend their schools is not enough reason to change state law, Democrats might find more motivation in the fact that the court’s decision “calls into question the constitutionality of a wide range of other state educational programs.”
Before the 2016 legislative session comes to a close, Democrats will have to decide whether to support public charter schools with the justification that they doing what’s best for children, like Democrat Rep. Eric Pettigrew, or oppose them with the justification that they are choosing the WEA over children, like Democrat Sen. Bob Hasegawa.