*UPDATE* We've just received a copy of the bill - click here to read it.
A bipartisan group of legislators is backing legislation that will allow Washington's public charter schools to stay open. The bill "makes a series of updates which include directing charter school funding to come from the state’s Opportunity Pathways Account, which contains state lottery revenues not restricted to common schools."
Sen. Steve Litzow, a Republican, and Rep. Eric Pettigrew, a Democrat, said their bill will get a hearing in the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee next Tuesday, Jan. 12.
Litzow and Pettigrew stressed the importance of charter schools to low-income and minority students in particular:
“Public charter schools are a meaningful opportunity for students – especially minority children from low-income families – who are disproportionately failed by Washington’s inequitable public school system,” said Litzow, chairman of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. “Education quality – and inequality – is the paramount concern for students, parents, teachers, and lawmakers as well as voters, who made Washington the 42nd state to allow charter schools."
“The opportunity to get a great education should be available to everyone, regardless of their zip code or the color of their skin. But many students, especially students of color, are not getting the education they deserve in our current system,” said Pettigrew, D-Renton, who serves as House Majority Caucus Chair. “In 2012, students, families and Washington’s voters agreed that charter schools should be a part of the solution to a public education system that is leaving too many kids without the education, hope and opportunity to achieve the American dream.”
The issue of education inequality was made even more relevant today, with the Seattle Times reporting:
During the past 12 years, the gap in achievement between poor students and others in Washington has widened more than in any other state, according to an analysis released Thursday.
As we've noted before, research shows charter schools are especially effective in improving the academic performance of low-income, minority and English Language Learner students in urban areas.
The bill's other co-sponsors are Sens. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah and Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens.
Click here to read the bill, S 3706.