Charter schools offer hope to families

To have been in a charter school is to believe in a charter school. – Dr. Shelley Redinger, superintendent of Spokane Public Schools

I couldn’t have put it better myself. Public charter schools don’t just offer the rigorous, alternative approaches to learning that some students and communities need – they offer hope to families whose children are stuck in under-performing schools.

Charters are appealing to many parents who recognize the importance of education and don’t want their kids left behind, but feel the system is failing them. That’s why, in many locations around the country, so many families prefer a charter school education that officials have had to use lottery systems for admission.

Washington’s charter schools law takes a smart approach. It’s limited in scale (for now), focused on underserved communities, and has demanding standards. That’s why the law, proposed as an initiative, earned the voters’ trust.

Sunnyside’s Daily Sun News examined the process behind approving Washington’s first charter schools, from 28 proposals submitted so far. Our state’s Charter Schools Commission is working to ensure that the schools approved have a challenging, evidence-based curriculum, detailed plans for making the most of the academic calendar, and are focused on kids who need the most help. Commission member Cindi Williams said of the process, “It’s one of the most rigorous application processes. These schools have to be great. A charter school at its best is a culture of academic rigor and high expectations. It proves all students can learn.”

It will be exciting to see how Washington’s charter schools will invigorate educators and benefit students in charters and in traditional public schools. Charters aren’t a silver bullet, but they are an important tool in the toolbox. Best of luck to everyone working on charter proposals around the state.

— Rob McKenna


Charting a new course for Washington public schools

PASCO – “To have been in a charter school is to believe in a charter school,” says Dr. Shelley Redinger, superintendent of Spokane Public Schools.

Redinger’s district was the first in this state to adopt the option for charter schools – in keeping with a voter-approved state referendum – and this past Tuesday she addressed the benefits of charter schools during the Solutions Summit held in Pasco.

One of two main morning sessions featured by the Washington Policy Institute, the discussion on charter schools also aimed to clear up misconceptions about the schools.

Cindi Williams serves on the state’s nine-member charter school commission and she noted the schools are public schools, not affiliated with religious organziations and free to the public.

She also dispelled concerns that charter schools would deplete other schools of the best and brightest students.

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Rob McKenna
Rob served two terms as Washington’s Attorney General, from 2005 to 2013. He successfully argued three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and negotiated three of the largest consumer financial protection settlements in national history, all involving mortgage lending and servicing. He is a recognized leader in the development of consumer protections on the internet, in data protection and privacy regulation.