On the evening of Nov. 12, 2012, many parents and education reformers had reason to celebrate – a charter school law had passed in the state of Washington after many years of discussion and debate. Washington voters became the first in the nation to approve a public charter school law by ballot initiative, giving hope to many families who sought a new school option for their children.
Since this landmark event, the first charter school opened in Seattle last year, and eight new charter schools opened their doors this fall.
But just before Labor Day this year, the state Supreme Court ruled charter schools unconstitutional – stealing away hopes and happiness from parents and most importantly, the students.
The Sept. 4 ruling shocked parents, advocates, education reform groups and supporters across the nation. The National Alliance, which had provided support for the charter school movement in the state, issued a statement expressing disappointment. We joined hands with our partners in Washington to help parents through this difficult time. Parents, schools and supporters voiced their pleas and outrage on Twitter, at #saveWAcharterschools.
How could the court turn its back on more than 1,300 students? What about the option for parents to choose a school that is right for their children? Parents wanted answers. We asked the governor to step in and respond. Specifically, we asked him to call a special legislative session to fix the public charter school law that is now deemed unconstitutional by the state’s Supreme Court.
Families, advocates and supporters told their stories through media, social channels and rallies last week. Gov. Inslee finally responded and said he would not call for a special session, letting down thousands of parents, children, faculty and supporters.
The National Alliance disapproves of this unprecedented ruling. The movement has close to 25 years of rich history that demonstrates charter schools are positively changing the face of learning and teaching in this country. Nearly three million students are attending more than 6,700 charter schools across the nation. Forty-two other states and Washington, D.C., have charter school laws that give families the option to choose a charter school for educating their children.
The parents in Washington are rightfully distraught, but still have hope in their eyes. Many of them had finally found a good fit for their child and didn’t want it to go away. The future of thousands of students, many of whom already face significant challenges in their lives, hangs in the balance. We call on Gov. Inslee to meet with these students and their families, hear their stories, and get to work on a new charter law that supports children’s needs.
This ruling has disrupted the lives of thousands of families in the state of Washington and put children in the middle of a political debate. Despite that, school leaders and teachers are trying every single day to limit the impacts of this legal drama on students and their education.
If you’re with us, show your support by contacting the governor: http://p2a.co/savewacharters.