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Washington state’s top court says charter schools aren’t public

New York Teacher

Washington state’s Supreme Court has become the first in the nation to rule that charter schools are not public schools and therefore cannot receive state education funding.

In the 6–3 decision striking down the state’s charter school law, the justices said charter schools are not “common” schools as defined under the state constitution because they are run by private, unelected boards.

“The [2012] Act was intended to provide parents with ‘more options’ regarding the schooling of their children,” Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote of the charter law. “But the new schools came with a trade-off: the loss of local control and local accountability.”

The ruling did not say what will happen to the nine charter schools that are already open or to the 1,200 students they serve. Their fate will be determined by a lower court.

Voters narrowly approved the charter school law in a 2012 statewide ballot initiative, making Washington the 42nd state to allow charter schools.

The law allowed for the creation of up to 40 charter schools in the state within five years. The first opened at the start of the last school year; eight more opened this school year.

Alternet, Sept. 8
Associated Press, Sept. 4