And all public school children in Seattle should benefit from tax dollars collected in the Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Program levy, including charter school students.
Money from Seattle’s new Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Program levy should not be used to further divide Seattle public school students. Students at the city’s three public charter schools should benefit from the levy along with those who attend traditional public schools.
The Washington Supreme Court recently affirmed charter schools as a constitutional way to educate public school students. Though the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County and other activists have been hostile to charter schools, city officials should ensure that charter school students are not excluded from the levy their parents are paying for. Those parents chose a charter school hoping their children will have a better chance at success there.
The seven-year Seattle levy — which passed overwhelmingly last week — includes a new program to offer all Seattle public school graduates a chance to attend two years of college for free. A student who graduates from Summit Sierra or Summit Atlas, both charters, should have the same opportunity to benefit from the College Promise program as a graduate of West Seattle or Cleveland high schools. High school choice is about the only thing that separates these students, because all the schools’ student population is mostly low-income and not white.
The same should be said for the other programs funded by the new levy. Charter school students should also be able to benefit from the extra academic help and health care paid for by taxpayers. Mayor Jenny Durkan should quickly figure out whether the charters can access the levy’s K-12 funds and whether charter graduates will be eligible for College Promise scholarships. So far, city officials have said they are not sure whether Seattle’s three charter schools can access the city levy dollars.
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Disappointingly, the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County actually advocated against the city levy during this past election season, in part because of the possibility the money could be used to help children who attend charter schools. The League also opposed the state charter initiatives and was involved in the two subsequent lawsuits to stop charters from getting a foothold in the state.
The League board voted unanimously to oppose Seattle Proposition 1 and posted a statement against the families and education levy on its website. A member of the league’s education committee wrote the opposition statement for the voter’s pamphlet.
The Supreme Court has ruled. All public school children in Seattle should benefit from tax dollars collected in the Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Program levy.