Washington charter public school law named “best in the nation” by National Association of Charter School Authorizers

Washington’s new charter public school law took top marks in the 2016 State Policy Analysis produced by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA).  In a three-way tie for first place, Washington hit all of the criteria, a perfect 33 out of 33, identified as important to effective charter public schools. (Hat tip to the Association of Washington Business Fast Facts.)


NACSA describes the rankings this way:

NACSA’s scoring rubric is based on a framework of policies in law, regulation, and/or rules. The eight policies are not new ideas, nor are they cumbersome rules and regulations. They are simply cornerstones of charter school excellence protected by state law…

Beyond the policy framework, lawmakers, stakeholders, and authorizers must ensure that the policies are implemented properly to provide quality charter schools to families and avert perverse incentives that undermine the system. Over time, a successful charter school system requires a combination of smart policy, committed people, and strong practice.

In its detailed look at Washington’s system NACSA notes recent roadblocks erected to block charter public school implementation.


A remarkable, parent-led, grassroots advocacy campaign restored Washington’s charter school law. Unfortunately, charter school opponents recently filed a new lawsuit that once again threatens quality school options in the state.

From the AWB story on the rankings,

“Washington is a national model for how to get charter school policies right,” said John Hedstrom, vice president of policy for NACSA. “Its law strikes the right balance that gives charter schools the freedom they need to thrive, while ensuring these schools meet a high bar and are good schools for students and taxpayers.”

Washington’s public charter schools were created by Initiative 1240, which voters approved in 2012. After the state Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the method of funding the schools was unconstitutional, the Legislature fixed the funding issue with a bipartisan bill earlier this year. The Washington Education Association and other critics have continued to challenge Washington’s public charter schools in court.

We wrote of the controversies most recently on the occasion of a Superior Court decision rejecting opponents’ arguments attempting to link public charter schools to state underfunding of K-12 traditional public schools. The same decision also denied standing to several advocacy groups challenging the charter public school law. 

Other blog posts have discussed the outstanding performance of charter public schools in our state and the charter public school record across the country

Congratulations to those who worked to make sure Washington’s charter public school the best in the nation. It’s time now to let the law work and for opponents to drop the “unnecessary distraction” and “intimidation” of the lawsuit.