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The Seattle Public School Board says “NO!” on charter school Initiative 1240 and so does our superintendent

Last night the Seattle Public School board voted unanimously to pass a resolution opposing charter school Initiative 1240.

Here is the resolution:

A RESOLUTION of the Board of Directors of Seattle School District No. 1, King County, Seattle, Washington in opposition of Initiative 1240, which relates to the allowance of public charter schools in the state of Washington.

WHEREAS, it is our role as elected members of the Board of Directors of Seattle School District #1 to support and maintain access to free and equal education for all students within our boundaries and serve as local representatives of the public; and

WHEREAS, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the state is not adequately funding basic education; and

WHEREAS, I-1240 allows for the establishment of individual schools funded by taxpayer dollars in a means not accountable to the public within the broader school boundaries in which they reside; and

WHEREAS, as a publicly elected Board of Directors, we support the right of all Seattle citizens to retain locally elected representatives accountable to the public, today and for generations to come; and

WHEREAS, the Seattle School District does embrace innovation and educational options, as embodied by our Creative Approach Schools Memorandum of Understanding between the Seattle School District and the Seattle Education Association; and

WHEREAS, the Seattle School District already offers Alternative Learning Experience schools and Option schools within each middle school service area, with multiple emphasis including social justice, environmental science, outdoor learning, International Baccalaureate and advanced learning; and

WHEREAS, the Seattle School District also offers a variety of instructional approaches including Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); Montessori and Language Immersion; and

WHEREAS, the Seattle School Board of Directors believes that the passage of I-1240 could remove or diminish local control of public schools and draw funding away from an already financially stressed system, causing greater hardship for the majority of schools and students within our boundaries; and

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, for these reasons, the Seattle School Board of Directors opposes the passage of Initiative 1240.

Seattle Public Schools superintendent Jose’ Banda also came out against the initiative during an interview on npr affiliate KUOW on a program titled Seattle Schools Chief Opposes Charter Initiative.

This is the introduction to that interview with Superintendent Banda:

Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools Jose’ Banda

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda says he’ll vote “no” on Initiative 1240, which would legalize charter schools in Washington state.

I-1240 would allow up to 40 charter schools in Washington state over five years. Proponents of I-1240 say it would give parents and students more school choice.

But Superintendent Banda says he doesn’t see enough parents and community members supporting the initiative. Instead, campaign finance reports show that I-1240 is backed mainly by wealthy donors like Bill Gates, Paul Allen and the parents of Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos. Much of the campaign is also funded by out-of-state donors.

Banda says that’s not who should bring charters to Washington. “I would hope that if a charter initiative is really what this community and what this state wants, it would be funded more grassroots or you would at least have more community and parent groups in support of it. I don’t see that so far,” he says.

Banda came to Seattle Schools this year from a district in Anaheim, Calif., where charters are allowed. “I think once they come in, if there’s not a clear accountability and a way to make sure that they meet the needs and the goals that they’ve set out, that there be a clear way that the charter could be revoked,” he says. “And I know it’s easier said than done, having seen charters operate in California.”

You can listen to the broadcast on KUOW.

Post Script:

A special thanks to School Board Director Kay Smith-Blum for presenting this resolution to the Executive Committee last week.

Dora

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