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Special Interest Groups Attack Washington State Charter Law with Failed Tactics

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On November 22, 2013 the King County Superior Court will hear oral arguments in League of Women Voters vs. Washington State. The case is an attempt to stop a voter-approved initiative that opens the door to new education options for thousands of low-income students in Washington state. Today the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released a paper explaining the legal attacks charter school opponents have made on Washington state’s charter school law. The paper shows that the same arguments have been used in past legal challenges in other states, all of which have failed. In November 2012, Washington voters approved Initiative 1240, creating the state’s first-ever charter school law. Built on the National Alliance’s model law and 20 years of charter school experience from around the country, the Washington Charter Schools Act is designed to provide public school options to families in Washington state. In July 2013, several special interest groups filed a lawsuit in state court claiming the charter school law violates the state constitution’s “general and uniform” schools provision and delegates power to boards that aren’t under voter control, among other things. These claims have been tried in numerous states and they’ve lost every time. Both sides have pledged to appeal the case to the Washington State Supreme Court, regardless of the outcome. “Filing a lawsuit making claims that have been rejected across the country is a waste of time and taxpayer money,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance. “We have seen special interests trot out these same tactics in California, Ohio, New Jersey, and Colorado just to name a few. Every child should be given the opportunity to go to a public school that will challenge her and prepare her for the future. That’s exactly what this law aims to do and it’s frustrating to see special interests trying to prevent kids from accessing high-quality schools.” We’ve Been Here Before: Charter School Opponents Use Same Legal Arguments and Lose Every Time examines the six legal claims in this case and explains why they don’t apply to Washington’s charter school law. For each claim, the paper offers examples from other states with similar constitutions where the same arguments have been made. In every case, charter school opponents have lost. The same day the law will be heard in court, applications to create a charter school are due. Thirty-one letters of intent to file an application have been submitted. The letters of intent come from some of the nation’s highest-performing charter school networks as well as local teachers and leaders seeking to open charter schools designed to help disadvantaged students. “Charter school opponents are on the wrong side of history. Independent research shows that charter schools do a better job educating low-income and minority students, and those who are still learning English, compared to traditional district schools. Time and again, we have seen charter schools work miracles with disadvantaged students. Why would anyone want to stop that from happening in their community?” Rees continued. “It’s time to stop the tired rhetoric and false claims and honor the decision the people of Washington state made last year.” Today, more than 6,000 charter schools are educating 2.3 million students across the country and are some of the top performing schools in the nation. Click here to read We’ve Been Here Before: Charter School Opponents Use Same Legal Arguments and Lose Every Time. About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. www.publiccharters.org.