AG cites unintended consequences court’s ruling against charter schools; is popular Running Start program also unconstitutional?

The state Attorney General will ask the state Supreme Court to reconsider its 6-3 ruling against public charter schools. As the Seattle Times reports,

[Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s] office released a statement Friday saying that the 6-3 decision “also unnecessarily calls into question the constitutionality of a wide range of other state educational programs.” He listed Running Start as an example, as well as skills centers that provide career and technical education to high-school students.

The Associated Press also reports on the appeal

The AG discussed the issue with Gov. Jay Inslee. The Olympian reports on Inslee’s view of the charter school ruling

But Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday he does not think it would be in the best interests of the state to call a special session of the Legislature on the charter issue.

“At this point, we don’t have a final decision from the Supreme Court,” Inslee said in a letter to legislators. He also noted that charter supporters are raising private funding to keep the state’s nine charter schools open for the rest of the school year.

Inslee said in his letter that he opposed the charter initiative in 2012 because “I did not believe that public money belongs in schools that lack public oversight and accountability. That remains my position.”

The News Tribune editorial board calls the court’s decision a detour into Wonderland.

The key precedents the court relied on hark from eras in which educational systems were vastly different from our own, but so be it: Charter schools are not common schools.

The court’s next step is what tips the opinion into logical Wonderland.

Washington has three accounts whose proceeds are dedicated to common schools. Most important is a property tax that raises about $2 billion a year. By the court’s reasoning, charter schools aren’t common schools and thus aren’t eligible for this money.

Yet the majority couldn’t leave it at that. It also decided that no money from the entire general fund could be used to sustain a charter school, even though the $2 billion from the common school tax is much less than the total $7 billion earmarked for public schools.

Why? Because the common school tax gets commingled with other revenues in the general fund. Applying a one-drop rule, the court essentially decided that the restrictions on the common school tax apply to the whole operating budget.

The Yakima Herald-Republic wants a legislative fix that resolves the legal problems with the law.
Again, the issue raises the question of the court’s authority. In a thoughtful article yesterday, The Seattle Times examines the issue under the headline: State Supreme Court: activist justices, or just different? We recommend the story, which includes interviews with, among others, former justices, a former attorney general, and legislators. Some of the answers may surprise you.