WASHINGTON’S newly appointed charter-school commission holds strong promise for delivering on expectations of high-quality public charter schools.
Voters approved Initiative 1240to explore the potential of charters to improve education.
Gov. Jay Inslee, Lt. Gov. Brad Owen and House Speaker Frank Chopp, by law, made three appointments each. The nine members seem a collection of intelligent, innovative and pragmatic thinkers.
Inslee selected former Seattle School Board President Steve Sundquist; Doreen Cato, executive director of the United Way of Grays Harbor; and Chris Martin, a Spokane gifted-education advocate and founder of Prodigy Northwest.
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Chopp appointed Trish Millines Dziko, co-founder of the TAF Academy, a STEM-oriented school in the Federal Way School District. His other appointees are former state Rep. Dave Quall and Margit McGuire, director of teacher education at Seattle University.
Owen appointed Larry Wright, managing director of the Bellevue Arts Museum with extensive experience in mentoring programs; Cindi Williams, who has worked on education policy for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and at the federal level; and Kevin Jacka, superintendent of the Mary Walker School District in Northeastern Washington.
Jacka’s appointment is interesting because he signed the petition for the “No on 1240” campaign. The initiative states commissioners must support charter schools. McGuire has raised concerns about charters schools. Constructive skeptics are welcome but Washington must move to create good, strong charter schools.
Next up, the new commissioners must pick a chair, hire staff and connect with the Washington State Board of Education, which has spent the past several months developing rules for the charter-approval process. They should visit high-performing charter schools. Learn from best practices elsewhere to make the best decisions about applications to open charters here.
Stay focused amid distractions, such as the state teachers union’s lawsuit to overturn the charter-school law. Choose quality over quantity.