Education union seeks to stop children from attending charter schools

The Washington Education Association launched its long-anticipated legal attack on charter schools today.  Lawyers for the powerful public-sector union filed suit in King County Superior Court to overturn voter-approved Initiative 1240.  If successful, the lawsuit would deny access to charter schools to Washington school children.

The suit argues that in enacting Initiative 1240 voters violated the state constitution by “improperly diverting public schools funds to private organizations that are not subject to local voter control and by impeding the State’s constitutional obligation to amply provide for and fully fund K-12 public education.” 

WEA lawyers were joined in the suit by leaders from anti-charter groups, including Washington Association of School Administrators, the League of Women Voters, and El Centro de la Raza. 

These groups were heavily involved in last year’s unsuccessful political campaign to defeat charter school legalization in Washington.  As part of the No on Charters 1240 campaign they argued, “Most of our children won’t have access to these [charter] schools...”  They lost, but now they want to keep all children from attending a charter school in Washington. 

The WEA union is widely recognized as the primary obstacle to education reform in the state, so education analysts have long expected an anti-Initiative 1240 lawsuit would be filed some time this year.  The move, however, puts the union in the unpopular position of trying to stop an important educational improvement that benefits children and is supported by parents, the public and, yes, many school teachers. 

This report is part of Washington Policy Center’s Initiative 1240 Follow-Up Project.


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blanche deveroux July 05, 2013 at 07:25 PM
“Just as a matter of curiosity, where do you find this right?” Perhaps the commenter Evy should have phrased it as parents have a choice instead of a “right”. Yes, parents can make that choice (have a choice) & sacrifice material objects to keep their children in a parochial or private school. It's not uncommon for a parent to work 2 jobs so that the children get an education in that type of environment. I had an opportunity to be in a local High school, junior classroom. I was appalled at the lack of respect & how these individuals behaved. Three of the kids sat in the front continuously chatting in Spanish, looking at cell phones. Others in the back of the room were texting, one kid was MIA for 45 minutes, one young lady walked in with pants so tight it looked like she was poured in to them & to top that off wearing at least 3 inch heel tart trotters (where is her mother?). Is it any wonder parents want a different learning atmosphere. In my opinion it should be mandatory for students to wear a school uniform. There wouldn’t be the rivalry over who has the best sneakers, jeans etc. Its horrifying that a junior or senior has no clue as to who the current Vice President of the United States is let alone the governor of WA (school in Olympia). And then there are the unions, while I will agree that unions have had a useful purpose but not so much anymore. Are the unions afraid that the charter schools will out-perform public schools? Since the charter schools are outside the public unionized system they will have the freedom to be innovative and less interference from the state bureaucracy A charter school is a choice that should be available to parents.
Randy Hayden July 06, 2013 at 11:55 AM
The courts have already said that Public school aren't holding to the constitutional right of providing a good education. Do you really think that throwing more money at a flawed system is the anwser?
Ken Mortland July 06, 2013 at 01:15 PM
Randy: I'm not sure what court decision you are referring to, but the Supreme Court's decision on McCleary was limited to the state's lack of meeting its "paramount duty" to fund education. It says nothing about the public schools needing to improve, as that was never an issue of law in the lawsuit. The Court certainly feels more funding is warranted.
Randy Hayden July 07, 2013 at 11:18 AM
I was referring to the McCleary decision. Like I said throwing more money at a flawed system isn't the answer. Washington state ranks around 43rd in the nation for dollars that make it into the class room. If they brought that up to the national average that would put 100 million back into teaching. If they followed Federal Ways school system that would put 500 million back into the class room. The public school system is afraid of charter schools, any competition makes both sides better! So it appears that this isn't about the children it's about the teachers union wanting to be in control of the public's tax money.
Ken Mortland July 07, 2013 at 12:29 PM
Randy: Thanks for following up. Can we agree that the Washington State Supreme Court did not say that Public Schools weren't holding to the constitutional rights? Can we agree the Court said the legislature was not fulfilling its constitutional duty. Also, what do you see as the outcome of the last two decades of reform. State-wide, test scores are up and the graduation rate, while not as good as we'd like, is at an all time high.


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