In turnaround, voters OK charter schools in Washington

November 13, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Supporters of charter school Initiative 1240 declared victory Nov. 10, as the measure hovered at about 50 percent support and elections officials statewide continued to count ballots.

The measure aims to allow up to 40 charter schools statewide in the next five years, though the high-performing Issaquah School District is not a likely candidate for such a school.

Opponents said charter schools in other states have a mixed track record and could siphon dollars from other public schools.

Washington voters convincingly rejected charter ballot measures in 1996, 2000 and 2004. Since then, perceptions about charter schools shifted, said Liv Finne director, Center for Education at the Washington Policy Center think tank.

President Barack Obama embraced charter schools, and states with such schools received additional points in the federal Race to the Top program for education funding.

“The education establishment is strongly resistant to change, and they are very effective at raising unwarranted fears about any change to schools,” Finne said.

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