EDITORIAL: The Longview Daily News, October 20, 2004
(this editorial is not available elsewhere on the Internet)

'Yes' on Referendum 55

Referendum 55 on the Nov. 2 ballot asks Washington voters to allow the creation of up to 45 publicly funded charter schools in the state over the next six years. The Daily News recommends approval of this referendum.

Voters shouldn't be misled by opponents of charter schools, who would use R-55 to repeal the modest charter school bill approved by the legislature and signed by Gov. Gary Locke last spring. Charter schools would take nothing from traditional public schools. They, in fact, would be part of the public education system.

Charter schools are formed by groups of parents and teachers who petition local school boards or the state superintendent of public instruction for a charter. The schools are subject to all existing health and safety regulations. They are held strictly accountable for the student performance goals established in their contracts.

Charter schools differ from traditional public schools in that they have more say in the hiring and firing of teachers, and charter school teachers and parents have more freedom to design innovative curriculum and teaching strategies.

Charter schools are not an untested innovation. Washington is among a relatively few states that do not allow charter schools. There are hundreds of charter schools around the nation serving tens of thousands of students. Charter schools would compliment Washington's public education system at little additional cost to the state. A "yes" vote on R-55 will give school districts the ability to exercise this option.

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