By Donna Gordon Blankinship, Associated Press
(From Seattle Post Intelligencer, May 22, 2012)
SEATTLE (AP) — A coalition of Washington education groups on Tuesday filed a citizen initiative asking voters to allow 40 public charter schools in the state over the next five years.
The coalition including the League of Education Voters, Stand for Children and Democrats for Education Reform has until July 6 to collect nearly 250,000 valid voter signatures.
A spokesman for the coalition said the groups would use both paid and volunteer signature collectors to meet the July deadline. But first they need to jump a few administrative hoops. It could be several weeks before they will be able to print petition sheets and circulate them.
Charters are public schools that run independently from district controls, instead, they are governed by a multi-year performance contract that requires proof that a school is improving student achievement.
Washington voters have repeatedly rejected charter school initiatives.
Washington is one of eight states without charter schools, according to the Center for Education Reform, an advocacy group that supports charters. The other states are Alabama, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia.
Washington voters rejected initiatives calling for charter schools in 1996, 2000 and 2004. The Legislature rejected charter bills on several other occasions before they reached the ballot.
A charter school bill had hearings in both the Senate and the House but didn’t make it very far during the 2012 Legislature.