The state that brought the world Starbucks, Boeing, Microsoft and Amazon, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has not exactly been leading the charge on innovative educational practices. When it comes to education reform, Washington has basically been a status quo heaven state.
Fortunately, a broad and growing bi partisan coalition of education advocates in Washington State plans to change this picture on November 6th. They submitted over 357,000 signatures for Initiative 1240, a well-crafted charter school measure proposal that just qualified for the fall statewide ballot.
Washington is a large, smart state with a growing population (we got the congressional seat that Massachusetts lost) that has been too attached to the educational status quo. It has been too easy for us to import the labor force that our technology driven economy needs, and too hard for us to help our low income and minority students stay in school and succeed.
Buoyed by the model law developed by NAPCS and a pile of research studies showing that public charter schools serving low income minority youth consistently outperform traditional public schools, advocates in Washington State have drafted a very strong law. We think it will be one of the strongest charter school laws in the country.
But first, we have to get our messages out to voters, and make certain that a majority of them approve Initiative 1240 on November 6th. Because Washington voters have defeated other charter school measures (three times, actually), this ballot fight has high stakes, and it is one of national importance. If you want to help, please visit www.yeson1240.com.
Image: States with (blue) and without (gray) a public charter school law. Via National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Dashboard, http://dashboard.publiccharters.org/dashboard/schools/year/2012
Author Lisa Macfarlane is the Washington State Director of Democrats for Education Reform.