Comment: Students at charter school deserve equitable funding

Legislation would provide funding that charter schools can’t receive from property tax levies.

By John Lovick / For The Herald

In my time as a state trooper, a sheriff, a state representative and a state senator I have always worked to support Washington’s young people.

Whenever I speak with students, I hand them a card with three simple pieces of advice. “Never stop learning,” “never give up,” and “take responsibility for your actions.” As legislators, we must take responsibility as well and support our students. It is time to ensure that the children in our charter public schools are granted the resources they need to succeed. That’s why I’m proud to sponsor Senate Bill 5809.

This legislation would complete the good work my colleagues and I started in 2023 by providing additional state support for students who attend charter public schools. Since charter schools are not eligible to run local property tax levies, they do not have access to the same enrichment funding as traditional public schools. In 2023, the Legislature authorized enrichment dollars for tribal compact schools. Now, we should do the same for charter public schools and ensure all public schools have access to funding that can enrich their educational programs.

Charter public schools reflect the communities they grow from. Every charter public school is the result of a years-long community engagement process to earn authorization to open and operate as a community-designed and community-supported school. They are also granted more flexibility when developing their curricula.

If Washington students find that there are appealing curriculum options available at charter public schools, we need to do our part to ensure that those students succeed. Sixty-two percent of students in charter public schools identify as people of color. With twice as many teachers of color compared to staffs at traditional public schools, students of color see themselves reflected in the charter public school staff, encouraging the bond between students and teachers so essential to educational success.

As we work to invest in our public schools, we must recognize the diverse needs and experiences of Washington families that rely on them to access opportunities for their kids. Washington needs to do its part to give every public school student the resources they need to succeed, including the children in our charter public schools. I know that my colleagues share my desire to support Washington’s students, and I urge them to include the funding proposed in SB 5809 as one part of our approach this year.

Public schools are integral to a thriving, inclusive community. Whenever I talk to the students in my district, I remind them, “It’s not where you are; it’s where you’re going.” These students are putting in the work, and it’s our job as legislators to give them the resources they need to build a better future for themselves, their community, and our state. Please join me in working to pass Senate Bill 5809.

State Sen. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, represents the 44th Legislative District.

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