On November 6th, voters in Georgia and Washington will vote on state legislation impacting the future of public charter schools in their respective states. In the past two weeks, there has been an outpouring of supportive op-eds, editorials and letters to the editor in both states. You can learn more about the legislation in Georgia and Washington through the linked pro-charter organizations.
Oct. 22 On an Atlanta Journal Constitution blog, Georgia state Sen. Fran Millar argues in favor of the constitutional amendment to restore the state’s power to approve and fund public charter schools. Millar points out that the amendment “primarily deals with charter schools created by the state after a local school board turns down the application."
Oct. 21 According to the Savannah Morning News, the proposal would prevent local school districts from denying approval to highly-qualified applicants. “There are 160 districts in Georgia that refuse to approve any charter schools,” said Tony Roberts, Georgia Charter Schools Association chief executive officer.
Oct. 21 In a Marietta Daily Journal op-ed, retired high school teacher and former Georgia state legislator Roger Hines explains why he now the amendment to restore the state’s power to approve and fund public charter schools. “Which is more local, a board of education making educational decisions for parents, or parents making those decisions for themselves?”
Oct. 21 In a Macon Telegraph op-ed, CNN contributor and Atlanta radio talk show host Erick Erickson points to flawed logic used by those who argue against restoring Georgia’s right to approve and fund public charter schools at the state level, a right now only extended to local school districts. “Charter school opponents believe the very same school systems that are failing our children should be the sole authority on creating their own competition,” Erickson writes.
Oct. 18 In a Marietta Daily Journal op-ed, Georgia Charter Schools Association president and CEO Tony Roberts argues that the amendment would restore the state’s authority to approve and fund public charter schools. “Independent charter schools have the most basic form of local control — parents.”
Oct. 18 In a letter to the Cherokee Tribune, Lyn Michaels-Carden of the Georgia Charter Educational Foundation writes that the debate is “a passionate subject that goes to the basic instinct of parents, what’s best for our kids and who is best to decide that.”
Oct. 17 On the Getting Smart blog, Alisa Hug, the Director of the Board of PublicSchoolOptions.org, says the amendment would give the state authority to create and oversee charter schools. “With various public charter school options available – from brick and mortar schools to online schools, to blended learning options, we have the tools to meet the individualized learning needs of all students. Let’s not fail them.”
Oct. 13 According to the Augusta Chronicle, a recent poll shows Georgia voters closely divided over the amendment. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll showed 45 percent of likely voters supporting the amendment and 42 percent opposed. An additional 13 percent said they did not know about the amendment or did not answer the question.
Oct. 23 According to the Seattle Times, Lisa Macfarlane, Washington state director of Democrats for Education Reform, campaigned against a ballot measure to bring public charter schools to Washington 16 years ago. Now, she supports Initiative 1240, which would allow the establishment of up 40 public charter schools statewide. She became curious about President Obama’s pro- charter stance and visited several charters serving low-income children. "You wish more kids could have that option," she said. In her current work promoting I- 1240, Macfarlane is now trying to change other voters’ minds. “We've got to do better by a group of kids that aren't faring well in our traditional public schools," she said.
Oct. 23 The Yakima Herald-Republic urges Washington state voters to approve I-1240. Critics of the measure have pointed to “big money” donated from the founders of Microsoft and Amazon.com. “This is big money, true,” the editorial board writes, “ — big money from state companies that have a vested interest in a high-quality public-school system.”
Oct. 21 According to the Olympian, Washington voters will decide whether the state will allow the establishment public charter schools when they vote on Initiative 1240 on the November 6 ballot. Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington, said charter authorizers can ensure that schools have “strict accountability requirements that most public schools don’t have.”
Oct. 21 In a Seattle Times op-ed, University of Washington Tacoma associate professor of economics Katie Baird writes: “I-1240 is carefully designed to maximize the chance of creating high-performing schools.”
Oct. 13 The Seattle Times editorial board urges Washington state voters to approve I- 1240, which would allow the creation of 40 public charter schools statewide. “We need both charter public schools, where principals are given latitude to pick teachers, shape budget priorities and tailor curriculum to students, and good traditional schools willing to innovate…We cannot continue to put off change because it is uncomfortable and challenges the status quo.”
Oct. 13 Seattle Times editorial page editor Kate Riley notes in her op-ed that public charter schools are also an issue in the governor’s race. Republican Rob McKenna supports charters; Democratic challenger Jay Inslee does not. Riley writes: “On education, Washington needs leadership that is open to possibilities — whether charter schools or the levy swap — that can move the state forward.”