More commentary on last week’s state Supreme Court decision upholding Washington’s charter public school law

Following up on our post last week on the state Supreme Court’s charter school ruling, we want to point to several good analyses and commentaries.

The Washington Research Council breaks down the decision.

The lead opinion was written by Justice Yu, and Justices Stephens, Johnson, and McCloud concurred. It finds that the law doesn’t violate the constitution’s general and uniform system of public schools, doesn’t unconstitutionally delegate the supervisory role of the superintendent of public instruction, and doesn’t use restricted common school funds.

The lead opinion does find that the law’s collective bargaining provisions violated the constitution. The charter school act, according to the opinion, “significantly limits the bargaining right of charter school employees by restricting their bargaining units to individual charter schools.” The collective bargaining provision was added to RCW 41.56, which concerns collective bargaining by public employees. Despite the fact that there were no charter school employees prior to approval of I-1240 (as the dissent by Justice González notes), the lead opinion finds that this is a revision of existing law. Because the charter school law did not “set forth at full length” the law it was amending, it violates article II, section 37. However, the opinion also finds that this provision is severable, so “the remainder of the Act stands.”

WRC analyst Emily Makings identifies key elements of the decision and how various justices came down in their dissents.

The Seattle Times editorial board says (as did we) that this should be the end of the challenges.

Thursday’s Washington Supreme Court ruling should end the debate over charter schools in the state.

These alternative public schools have proved to be an excellent option for some children, helping many do better academically than they were in a traditional public school…

With this matter clearly settled, lawmakers hostile to charter schools should not spend one minute of their precious time proposing new obstacles for charter schools.

The Lens also reports on reactions to the decision.

The decision was celebrated by Washington State Charter Schools Association CEO Patrick D’Amelio, calling it a “resounding victory with the court. It ensures that public dollars will continue to flow to students in public schools.”

In a statement, he also called it “a big step forward in the fight to close the opportunity gap that persists in our state.”


In a statement, Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) Executive Director Joel Aune wrote: “we are disappointed in the Court’s decision but feel this provides closure on an issue that has continued to cloud discussions about K-12 funding over the last six years. We hope today’s decision will better ensure that charter schools are well-managed and held accountable for the tax dollars they receive.”

Closure is welcome. 

Seattle Times reporter Dahlia Bazazz looks at what’s next. What should be next is an acceptance of the court’s decision and a commitment to enhancing educational opportunities throughout the public school system – a system that clearly includes charter public schools.