September 25, 2012
No need here for charter schools
Once again, Washington voters are being asked whether charter schools should be allowed here, as they are in 41 other states.
From some perspectives, a charter school run by a nonprofit organization with a goal of better education might make sense. But from the Issaquah perspective, charter schools are not needed. Test scores are among the highest in the state and 21 Issaquah School District students were recently named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.
Supporters see charter schools as an alternative to a system seen as failing. The Issaquah district already strives to offer innovative curriculum for those students who need and desire more challenging classes. Witness the International Baccalaureate program at Skyline High School, the science-technology program for third graders, the Night Academy for students needing to make up failed high school classes and the Humanities Plus program for highly capable middle school students.
Some opportunities come in partnership with the Issaquah Schools Foundation. Consider the expansion of the Robotics Club to all middle and high schools to encourage future engineers and scientists, the VOICE Mentor program that matches community volunteers with students, and the after-school homework labs.
That doesn’t mean Issaquah schools can’t do better. Parents as a whole are outspoken here and demand continued evaluation of curriculum. And parents already step up with large contributions to the schools foundation to ensure that new learning tools are available in a district run on a shoestring.
We are especially concerned that a local charter school would take resources away from the district. State funding per student would be diverted to the charter school. New expenses could also be imposed on the district, but the proposed initiative does not provide extra state funds.
Many private schools have sprung up in the Issaquah area in recent years. Those schools already provide alternative educational options, without the use of taxpayer dollars.
Publicly funded private schools are not needed here. Vote no on Initiative 1240.