EDITORIAL: Centralia Chronicle, October 27, 2004

Charters Worth Try

VOTE FOR CHARTERS: The Washington Education Association, the state teachers’ union, is again opposing competition from charter schools within the public school system. The WEA sees charters as a threat to its teacher dues-supported power base. But what’s important is the best education of all students through high school, not the welfare of the union. Referendum 55, by providing for up to 45 charter schools over six years, would offer an alternative especially for parents of minority and disadvantaged children concentrated in urban areas to improve their youngsters’ education.

Granted, our public schools are improving in their performance, as demonstrated by better test scores on new achievement standards. But some public schools are still failing, as demonstrated by their dropout rates and low test scores.

The innovation charter schools allow in curriculum, structure, discipline, instruction, and operation could well help to reduce the frightful 30 percent average dropout rate in our public high schools, which is more than 50 percent for African-American, Latino and Native American children.

Despite WEA rhetoric, the legislation authorizing the charters has plenty of safeguards for these independent schools. Local school boards or the state schools chief must approve them. They would employ state-certified teachers, be subject to independent performance audits, and after four years, would be reviewed by the Legislature as to their benefit.

Some form of charter schools have been approved in 40 other states since 1992 and there are numerous successes.

We strongly recommend passage of R-55 for the charters to provide for more choice, competition, and better performance of our publicly funded schools.

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