CHAR­TER SCHOOLS

The Gulf Today - - OPINION -

Thurs­day’s Washington Supreme Court rul­ing should end the de­bate over char­ter schools in the state. Th­ese al­ter­na­tive pub­lic schools have proved to be an ex­cel­lent op­tion for some chil­dren, help­ing many do bet­ter aca­dem­i­cally than they were in a tra­di­tional pub­lic school. In a com­plex, yet de­ci­sive, rul­ing, the court’s ma­jor­ity found the char­ter law con­sti­tu­tional, with one no­table ex­cep­tion con­cern­ing col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing. The de­ci­sion may make it eas­ier for char­ter-school em­ploy­ees to union­ize. With this mat­ter clearly set­tled, law­mak­ers hos­tile to char­ter schools should not spend one minute of their pre­cious time propos­ing new ob­sta­cles for char­ter schools. In­stead, the Leg­is­la­ture should leave the Char­ter School Com­mis­sion to con­tinue its work care­fully and me­thod­i­cally au­tho­riz­ing and mon­i­tor­ing th­ese pub­lic schools. School dis­tricts should also take an­other look at be­com­ing char­ter-school au­tho­riz­ers, as the law al­lows. Spokane has han­dled this role well, spon­sor­ing two, and the stu­dents in that school district have ben­e­fited from more choices. In the ma­jor­ity opin­ion, Jus­tice Mary Yu ac­knowl­edges the deep-seated con­flict­ing opin­ions on char­ter schools. Those di­vi­sions are not likely to dis­ap­pear sim­ply be­cause the Supreme Court says char­ter schools are con­sti­tu­tional. Doc­u­mented suc­cess in the form of data and per­sonal sto­ries may change opin­ions over time. A great pub­lic char­ter school does not take money or pres­tige away from a won­der­ful tra­di­tional pub­lic school, but it may give stu­dents in notso-great schools an­other chance at suc­cess. Vot­ers in 2012 ap­proved char­ter schools as a pi­lot project in Washington state.

The Seat­tle Times

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