EDITORIAL: Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, October 11, 2004

Voters Should OK Plan to Allow Limited Charter Schools

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD of the Union-Bulletin

Are charter schools the answer to all of our educational woes? Probably not. Yet, in some circumstances, charter schools might be just what is needed to solve specific problems. Charter schools are funded by tax dollars but are essentially run by parents. They are supposed to serve a niche that may not be available in the traditional public schools.

This year, the Legislature approved a modest plan that allows for creation of up to 45 charter schools over a six-year period. It's an experiment to see if charter schools can work in Washington state. But some see the experiment as a threat to public education and took the necessary steps to get it on the ballot—Referendum 55—so they could kill it.

The idea of charter schools isn't going away. The folks who believe the charter-school option will strengthen education are committed to their cause. State lawmakers have looked at myriad proposals over the years. Some good, some bad. The plan the Legislature agreed to this year is better than most. We don't see it as a major threat to our public education system, but it might be an option for those who desire different approaches to learning.

Let's give this experiment a chance. We urge voters to approve Referendum 55.

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