Seattle, Washington – After comprehensively reviewing ballot returns to date, The YES on 1240 Coalition announced today that Initiative 1240, the Washington Public Charter Schools Initiative, will be approved by a majority of Washington voters. With over 2.6 million votes counted, Initiative 1240 is leading with 51% of the vote.
“This is a clear victory for Washington students and parents, and for public education in our state,” said Chris Korsmo, CEO of the League of Education Voters, a founding member of the Washington Coalition for Public Charter Schools. “Washington now joins 41 other states across the country in offering the option of public charter schools for parents and students.”
Under I-1240, a maximum of 40 public charter schools may be authorized over a five-year period. These schools will be subject to strict oversight and public accountability, and their performance in improving student learning will be rigorously evaluated to determine whether additional charter schools should be allowed.
“Our campaign has always been about the best interests of Washington’s students – and only the students,” said Shannon Campion, a spokesperson for the YES on 1240 campaign and Executive Director of Washington Stand for Children. “I-1240 will bring the best of what has worked in other states to Washington.”
“We want to thank all the parents, teachers, education advocates and community leaders from across the state who worked so hard to pass I-1240,” said Korsmo. “Our coalition members are committed to working with parents, educators, elected leaders and communities to implement this initiative and to establish up to 40 high quality public charter schools over the next five years.”
The founding coalition members for the campaign who put the measure on the ballot – including Partnership for Learning, Democrats for Education Reform, Washington Stand for Children, and the League of Education Voters – have committed to continuing the coalition to lead efforts to support the effective implementation of I-1240.
“We look forward to the work ahead, and to joining with other supporters in this and other efforts to improve public education throughout Washington state,” said Jana Carlisle, Executive Director of Partnership for Learning. “We are committed to working to ensure effective implementation of the law, and to making sure that implementation serves the best interests of Washington students. In particular, in keeping with the intent of the law, we will work to ensure that priority is given to serving students who are most at-risk, including low-income students and those who are struggling in traditional public schools.”
“Washington voters clearly understand that public charter schools across the country are providing more opportunities for student success,” said Lisa Macfarlane, Executive Director of Democrats for Education Reform, also a founding member of the coalition. “And, voters expect accountability, as well as timely and faithful implementation of what they’ve voted on.”
Charter schools are independently-managed public schools operated by approved nonprofit organizations and overseen by a local school board or state commission with strict accountability and performance requirements. Public charter schools do not charge tuition, are open to all students and receive funding based on student enrollment just like traditional public schools.
Public charter schools are subject to the same academic standards as traditional public schools, and the teachers in them must meet the same certification requirements as teachers in other public schools. However, public charter schools are freed from many other regulatory requirements, so they have more flexibility to set curriculum and budgets, establish their teaching staff, and offer more customized learning experiences to meet the needs of their students.
According to Washington state law, election results will be officially certified and Initiative 1240 will take effect on December 6th. The initiative calls for members of the Washington State Charter School Commission to be appointed within 90 days of the effective date of the law.