Public charter school bill to become law without governor’s signature; victory for public education in Washington

Gov. Jay Inslee announced today that the legislative solution to save public charter schools will become law tomorrow without his signature. From the Seattle Times

In a letter to the Secretary of State released Friday afternoon, Inslee said that he will allow Senate Bill 6194 to become law without signing it, but he expressed concerns that unelected charter school boards would still be allowed to make decisions about how to spend public money.

“Despite my deep reservations about the weakness of the taxpayer accountability provisions, I will not close schools,” Inslee wrote.

The legislation passed the Legislature March 10 with bipartisan support. The Associated Press noted at the time that proponents believe the bill successfully addresses the state Supreme Court’s objections to the 2012 voter-approved initiative establishing public charter schools in Washington.

Tom Franta, CEO of the nonprofit Washington State Charter Schools Association, said he believes the bill addresses all the constitutional questions because it makes clear that charter schools are no longer common schools as the state Constitution labels Washington’s more traditional public schools…

Franta’s organization, which has provided both support and advocacy for the new schools, said another charter school lawsuit was hinted at repeatedly during legislative debate this week.

“We’re going to be ready for it. And are confident the result will be in our favor,” Franta said of the next lawsuit.

The governor’s decision to allow the bill to become law represents a significant victory for the students, parents and teachers associated with the existing public charter schools in the state. It’s also a crucial victory for public education in Washington, providing a proven education alternative. Ideally, this will be the last chapter in the saga and there will be no further legal challenges.

We regularly called public charter school legislation one of the few must-do items on the 2016 legislative agenda. It is now done. Congratulations to the thousands of advocates who helped lawmakers make it happen.