Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision not to sign the charter school bill, allowing it to become law without his signature, is disappointing.
WASHINGTON’S charter-school advocates have walked on eggshells for more than a year. First, they had to wait almost a year for the state Supreme Court to rule on opponents’ lawsuit; then they had to stand by for the Legislature to remedy the court’s decision to close them; and finally they had another nail-biting wait to see whether Gov. Jay Inslee would veto the bipartisan, common-sense legislation to keep them open permanently.
A sense of closure finally came Friday when Inslee said he would let the bill become law — without his signature — two days later.
The good news is Washington’s charter school experiment finally can continue for about 1,100 students statewide and for others to come.
But Inslee’s indifference to charter schools is disappointing. He should be championing them. His non-signing of the bill — the first time that has happened since 1981 — all but invites lawsuits. It also seems an effort to delegitimize a thoughtful, evidence-based approach to education.
Most Read Opinion Stories
- Let new council decide Seattle neighborhoods' fate | Editorial
- U.S. must follow Canada and invite tribes into Columbia River Treaty negotiation | Op-Ed
- Why won't we talk about death? | Op-Ed
- I'm rooting for James Holzhauer, the 'Jeopardy!' phenom | Op-Ed / Ken Jennings
- The conversation on race and identity is really about how we care for and treat one another | Op-Ed
Charter schools have already been embraced by 42 other states, President Obama and the National Education Association.
With his re-election campaign looming, Inslee’s non-signature gimmick seems aimed at appeasing the state’s most powerful political entity, the teachers’ union, which led the fight against charter schools. In 2012, the Washington Education Association spent $2.6 million, which included support for Inslee and against Initiative 1240, the measure that created the state’s charter school system.
Despite the opposition, charter schools now have certainty. But the waiting comes with a cost — new charter schools are not likely to open this fall, said Tom Franta, CEO of the Washington State Charter School Association. Eight currently operate statewide.
Those charter schools have remarkably diverse student bodies, as intended by the law. More than 70 percent are students of color, and nearly 40 percent of charter-school teachers are people of color — the latter is triple the percentage at other public schools. More than two-thirds of students qualify for free or reduced price lunches.
And these students are already achieving. Too bad the adults have gotten in the way for so long.