My daughter Ava and I joined together with families representing each of Washington’s charter public schools to file a motion to defend Washington’s strong charter public-school law alongside the state.
WHEN the charter public-school initiative went on the ballot in 2012, I voted a resounding “yes,” as did the majority of my fellow residents in Yakima, a city almost half comprised of Latino residents. Our community celebrated when eight new charter schools opened in Washington in 2015, and we began organizing to open a charter public school of our own.
But before the Yakima community could move forward, a coalition led by El Centro de la Raza sued the state, attempting to shut down Washington’s existing charter public schools and remove the power of choice from parents throughout the state.
Replace “El Centro de la Raza” in the sentences above with “teachers unions” and the El Centro actions — while still abhorrent — seem par for the course. Teachers unions regularly oppose common-sense progressive policies and programs that benefit students of color.
But El Centro is an advocacy organization, according to their mission, “grounded in the Latino community.” Among the 29 outcomes that the organization claims to use to measure its success are the following: “Educationally marginalized students make academic progress;” “Youth are encouraged and better prepared to pursue and/or enroll in post-secondary education;” and “Youth acquire technology skills.”
Based on El Centro’s mission and stated goals, the successes at Washington’s charter public schools embody almost word for word the desired outcomes of El Centro’s platform. For instance, at Excel Public Charter School in Kent, most students entered a grade level or more behind in reading. Yet between October and March, the percentage of students determined to be proficient or advance in English language arts grew from 18 percent to 51 percent. Meanwhile, they also receiving extended instruction in math, science and computer science.
El Centro’s opposition to charter public schools is the definition of hypocrisy.
After El Centro’s first lawsuit prevailed, hundreds of parent advocates, students and teachers rallied at the Capitol and called on legislators to take action to save Washington’s charter public schools. After months of hard work, we succeeded in passing a bill reinstating a strong, new charter public-school law that fixed the glitch in the previous law targeted by the El Centro lawsuit.
But now El Centro has filed yet another lawsuit in another attempt to intimidate parents away from choosing charter public schools.
Across the country, students in charter public schools receive greater educational benefits than their peers in traditional public schools.”
Enough is enough.
Across the country, students in charter public schools receive greater educational benefits than their peers in traditional public schools, according to the 2013 National Charter School Study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes. That’s especially true for Hispanic English-language learners, who in charter public schools were found to have received the equivalent of an additional 50 days of learning in reading and 43 days in math when compared to their peers in traditional public schools.
That’s why last week, my daughter Ava and I joined together with families representing each of Washington’s charter public schools to file a motion to intervene in El Centro’s lawsuit and defend Washington’s strong charter public-school law alongside the state.
In addition to filing to intervene in the case, we also filed a motion to dismiss El Centro and all of the organizations who filed as plaintiffs.These advocacy organizations are merely attempting to rehash policy arguments in a courtroom by recasting them as constitutional concerns — policy arguments that were decided at both the ballot box and in the 2016 legislative session.
Nothing will intimidate us into giving up the educational opportunities we have fought so hard to secure for our children.
By intervening in this cynical lawsuit, we are taking a stand for our children, charter public schools and for the positive difference these schools make for entire communities.
I urge El Centro de la Raza’s leaders to visit a charter public school in Washington to see the learning happening and the futures being built. I also urge them to truly honor their mission by removing El Centro from the lawsuit against Washington’s charter public schools.