Seattle Urban League endorses charter schools

Herald staff

SEATTLE — The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle has announced its support of Initiative 729, saying students need charter schools to give them a choice in schools and a chance for a quality education.

"To many African-Americans in Seattle and Tacoma and across this country, charter schools are seen as the most dramatic development in educational reform since desegregation," said James Kelly, president and chief executive officer of the organization.

Kelly was joined by Hugh Price, the president of the National Urban League in making the announcement Tuesday.

Initiative 729 would make charter schools in Washington free, public schools, open to all. They would be run by nonprofit groups approved by local school boards or universities and would be free from many of the regulations that some critics say hinder other public schools.

But opponents of I-729 are worried that charter schools will take money away from other public schools and that they won’t have proper oversight.

Charter schools are allowed in 36 states, and Urban League affiliates have organized charter schools in some states.

  • Computer monitor recycling program: More than 30 tons of old or broken computer monitors collected in King County over the past three months will be reused and recycled rather than dumped in a landfill. The King County Solid Waste Division launched the pilot computer recovery project in July with help from government agencies, nonprofit groups, computer recycling companies and computer retailers. Through Oct. 31, King County is giving away $10 coupons to computer owners interested in turning their machines in to be recycled. Computer monitors contain three to eight pounds of lead in the cathode ray tubes. Circuit boards also contain lead, as well as cadmium, mercury and other toxins.

  • Policeman demoted for watching porn: A police sergeant who watched "sexually oriented images" on his laptop computer while seated in his patrol car has been demoted to patrol officer, Police Chief Rodger Cool said Wednesday. A visitor to the Western Washington Fair on Sept. 20 videotaped an officer parked near the fairgrounds and watching what appeared to be a Web site with pornographic photographs. Several Seattle-area television stations carried the story and one aired the tape. Sgt. Dan Waddington’s demotion will take effect Monday, Cool said. The department’s investigation concluded Waddington "clearly violated our established rules of conduct," the chief said. The officer was not immediately reachable for comment Wednesday evening.

  • Put down the chain saw: The owner of a new $600,000 home has been told he cannot cut down six trees on his quarter-acre lot because of a developer’s agreement to preserve a certain number of native trees. Homeowner Brian Decker is appealing to the city council. He wants to build a sport court for his seven children. City planners said the five Douglas firs and a cottonwood in Decker’s back yard must be preserved as part of the agreement with the subdivision builder to save 35 percent of native trees. The city said planting new trees won’t help because they would be too small.

  • Judge allows fluoride measure to go forward: An initiative to fluoridate Spokane’s water will be on the Nov. 7 ballot after a judge threw out a challenge to its wording. Spokane County Superior Court Judge Linda Tompkins ruled Tuesday the ballot title "doesn’t create prejudice for or against the measure." Opponents of fluoridation sued the city and city council over the proposition’s language, which asks: "Shall the City of Spokane periodically adjust the Fluoride content of its water supply … ?" Three women who brought suit contend the word "adjust" is misleading, and that "add" would more accurately reflect what would happen should voters choose to fluoridate the water. City attorney Milt Rowland argued none of the ballot title’s words is misleading. Fluoride naturally occurs in drinking water, and adjustments could mean adding or reducing the amount, he said.

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