On Friday, September 4, 2015, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled the public funding of charter schools unconstitutional. Because this ruling would eliminate their public funding, the future of the state’s nine charter schools—along with the students that attend them—is in jeopardy. We hope to shed light on the experiences of the families affected by the Washington State Supreme Court’s decision. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools stands with Washington families in hopes of continuing their choice of public education.
For some families in Washington, the passage of a charter school law brought school choice and an opportunity for students to succeed in schools designed to meet their unique needs. So when the state Supreme Court declared the charter school law unconstitutional, families were devastated. More than 1,300 students attending charter schools have been affected. A state representative specifically took a look at how the court ruling affects low-income students. For students that aren’t provided with high-performing schools because of where they live, charter schools offered a quality alternative.
For other families, student attendance of a charter school offered benefits at home. “Our home is filled with laughter and happiness again, and it’s all because of what our charter school has done for our son and many other children,” according to charter school parent, Deanne Hilburn.
A key area of concern around the Washington State Supreme Court ruling lies in the fact that students enrolled in public charter schools are waiting with uncertainty. They don’t know the next steps. Their concerns often lead back to an important question: ‘Will there be school tomorrow?’ While we wait on the final court decision for Washington’s charter schools, families might have to transfer their students to different schools just a few weeks into the new school year.
Washington’s families responded powerfully to the court ruling with rallies showing their support for quality educational options for their children. It is our hope that school choice will continue and charter schools can continue to serve Washington families.