Interesting article/op-ed from The Sun Break about just some of the legal issues that may arise from I-1240.
Another question is whether charter schools are in fact "common schools" (i.e., public schools), as required by the Washington State constitutionif they are to receive public funds:The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools. The public school system shall include common schools, and such high schools, normal schools, and technical schools as may hereafter be established. But the entire revenue derived from the common school fund and the state tax for common schools shall be exclusively applied to the support of the common schools.
I-1240 simply states that charter schools are public schools. But that’s precisely what’s at issue with the debate over charter schools versus public schools. Are they? Is it still a “general and uniform system” if charter schools are granted the freedom with curriculum they’ve been granted, and are overseen by non-elected school boards? University of Washington law professor Hugh Spitzer argues that the State Supreme Court has already set a precedent in how common schools are defined–they must be under the control of voters in a school district, which charter schools are not.
Their op-ed raises some interesting questions about different votes and repeats what I have said; when you have scarce education dollars, you spend them on what you know has the best chance for better outcomes. We don't vote on a wish and a hope.
There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to square the entrepreneurial drive behind charter schools with the requirements of uniformity mandated in the constitution. When 37 percent of charter schools nationally perform worse than "virtual twin" public schools, that's a lot of young lives being given over to experiment. You don’t get a refund for not having learned anything that year, or three.
Contrast this with the fact that 56 percent of Washington voters upheld a prohibition regarding "investment of public monies of the University of Washington and Washington State University in private stocks and bonds." Presumably, it seemed too risky to gamble with education monies when it was clear that that was what was happening. Yet charter schools represent a bet not just with education monies, but a bet with the education of students too young to vote. In the competitive, private-enterprise model that charters adopt, the non-performing are supposed to fail. But they fail the students in them most. That’s perhaps not something graduates of Lakeside know about.