Gov. Jay Inslee should sign the charter-school bill.
STUDENTS at the state’s eight public charter schools, their parents, teachers and administrators have almost won their difficult fight after a key state House vote Wednesday.
Now, Gov. Jay Inslee should — without delay — sign ESSSB 6194, a remedy for the concerns of the state Supreme Court, which threw out the voter-approved charter-school law in September. That ruling plunged the schools serving 1,100 students in the Seattle, Highline, Kent, Tacoma and Spokane school districts into disarray. Emergency measures have temporarily kept them open.
The bill would change the funding source, the root of the court’s concern. But it still would give the schools more latitude for innovation while holding them to high accountability standards — otherwise, they would be shut down.
For many House lawmakers, Wednesday’s vote was a courageous stand to put the opportunity that charter schools provide ahead of the interests of those who want to snuff it out.
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Ten Democratic lawmakers bucked the powerful state teachers union and joined all the Republicans to pass the amended Senate bill, 58-39.
Leading the charge in the Democratic-controlled House was state Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland. Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D-Renton, was among those who argued poignantly for passage. Reps. Chad Magendanz of Issaquah and J.T. Wilcox of Yelmled the effort on the Republican side.
Impressively, Democratic leadership permitted a vote even though a majority of the caucus, including Speaker Frank Chopp, voted no. That is a remarkable decision that would benefit these 1,100 students now and many more in the future.
In the Senate, Republicans Steve Litzow of Mercer Island and Joe Fain of Auburn were joined by Democratic Sens. Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens and Mark Mullet of Issaquah.
Opponents of the charter-school law suggest more lawsuits are on the way. They should have their lawyers stand down and allow charter schools to demonstrate fully what these schools, under the narrow parameters of state law, can do.
In the meantime, the governor should sign this bill.