Education expert Robin Lake asks: Will Washington become the first state to shutter successful schools?

Robin Lake’s provocative and thoughtful commentary ought to land on every desk in the state House of Representatives, perhaps even be read aloud on the floor of the chamber. Consider:

Washington state may soon have a new claim to fame: Unless the legislature acts within the next 10 days, we will be the first state in the union to intentionally shut down a group of high-performing schools that serve mainly disadvantaged students.

Lake is a leading education authority, the director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) and Affiliate Faculty at the University of Washington Bothell. She writes,

I’ve been studying charter schools for more than 20 years, (but my opinion here is mine alone, not that of the University of Washington.) Charter schools don’t always work well, particularly if the state law isn’t well crafted. But that’s not the case in Washington. Our law is one of the best in the country. We’ve followed national best practices from the 40 states that created charter schools before us. And it shows. Washington charter schools are already making notable progress academically.

In her article in The Seventy Four, she provides links to the evidence, examples of the successes already being realized by the 1,100 students attending the state’s eight public charter schools. And she notes that their opportunities are being threatened by inaction in the state House of Representatives.

The state Senate quickly passed a new bill but the House Education Committee has delayed the vote for further study and political negotiations. Time is running out. The legislative session ends March 10 and the schools will simply have to close if the bill isn’t passed. (The 74: WA House Fails to Act on Charter Bill as Dems Search for Alternative and Deadline Looms)
The implication for the nearly 1,100 students attending Washington’s eight public charter schools is clear: their chance to go to college, something many previously didn’t believe they would have, will be in serious jeopardy if legislators don’t act in the next week.
We’ve written many times that saving public charter schools is one of just a few items on the Legislature’s must-do list this session. Time is running out. Inaction cannot be an acceptable option.
See also Leilana Leach’s article in The Lens. And visit the website of the Washington State Charter School Association for more information on public charter schools and how they’re expanding opportunity through innovative programming.