Charter school opponents may win – for now

On July 3, Washington state unions filed a complaint against charter schools and a request of injunction for protection from Initiative 1240. Ignoring the will of the people for more options and choice in public education, opponents of charter schools ran to the courts in a last ditch effort to maintain the status quo.

Eight months earlier, voters passed Initiative 1240, which allowed for charter schools to be an option for students across the state. In light of recent data from the State Board of Education which showed that only 11 percent of Washington schools scored an “A” on the State Achievement Index, parents and students decided that Washington should finally join 41 other states across the nation in taking this important step forward.

Predictably, when the public school establishment lost at the ballot box, it decided to take the issue to court. And to not just any court, but to Judge Jean Rietschel of King County, the most liberal judge in the most liberal court in Washington state. The strategy was obvious: opponents of charter schools challenged the law in one of the few counties where the initiative failed to pass, hoping they could get a favorable verdict. They went judge and court shopping and came home with a full basket.

As a result, we can expect to see a bad outcome in the lower court. Teachers unions have argued that under Initiative 1240, charter schools are supposed to be funded from “revenues restricted by the Constitution for exclusive support of the state’s common schools.” Judge Rietschel will probably rule against charter schools based upon an extremely narrow reading of this constitutional provision. In other words, one judge will probably attempt to overturn the will of 1,525,807 Washington voters as well as every single legal precedent relating to charter schools already decided by courts across the country.

Last year, we won a battle for charter schools at the ballot box, but clearly the fight rages on. Despite concerted opposition, supporters of charter schools should continue to hold out hope. Initiative 1240 is a good law that offers struggling students a ticket out of struggling schools. Ultimately, no matter what Judge Rietschel decides, she will not be the last to speak. Those who voted for charter schools will look to another court and a better verdict if she proceeds to strike down the will of the people. Charter schools will have their victory either in this decision or on appeal.

Austin Cooper, 21, of Arlington, is a local education reform advocate and Master of Public Policy candidate at Pepperdine University.

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Sunday, Sept. 24

A sketchy look at the day in politics.… Continue reading

Daydream is over; GOP must work with Democrats on ACA fix

Editorial: The Senate should end its latest ACA repeal effort and continue bipartisan talks.

Viewpoints: Who’s going to clean up Equifax’s mess?

You are, for starters. But there are things that credit agencies could do to secure your data.

Commentary: Include employee profit-sharing in tax reform

Tying corporate tax reform to profit-sharing would provide a fairer share for the middle class.

Commentary: Give retail marijuana balanced consideration

Retail sale of cannabis is up to Snohomish voters, and there are reasons to support it.

Will: America’s engine is being slowed by complacency

The Great Enrichment is being superseded by the Great Flinch, a recoil against friction and change.

Robinson: The GOP’s health care proposals keep getting worse

It’s hard to find anyone who knows anything about health insurance who likes this monstrous creation.

Parker: 25 years later, woman’s disappearance fresh in mind

Over the years, the work to find Dail Dinwiddie evolved into efforts to find and protect others.

Keillor: Voices in unison sing out our desire for common good

When you stand in a crowd and sing, it does pull people together.

Most Read