Eight new charter schools in Washington – some hope they’ll fail

Eight new public charter schools are opening their doors in Washington. That has a lot of families celebrating, and with good cause.

Public charter schools offer approaches to instruction for students and families for whom traditional public schools haven’t been a good fit. These new options are courtesy of voters, who approved charter schools by initiative in 2012. Under the law, the number of charter schools allowed will be capped at 40.

Clearly there’s a need for these schools. Every new charter school quickly filled all available student slots. Some even ended up enrolling many more students than initially planned.

Schools and students around the state, even those who live nowhere near a new public charter school, are going to benefit from charters. Charter schools have more flexibility to experiment with strategies to enhance learning. Teachers and administrators everywhere can learn what works and what doesn’t in different innovative approaches to teaching.

These openings aren’t all hope and high expectations. The eight schools all have something to prove. After a rough start for the state’s first charter school, First Place Scholars (problems driven mostly by its conversion from an existing private school and also the unique student body it aims to serve – students from homeless families), these new schools know their leadership stability and administrative competence will be closely scrutinized.

They also know that some are rooting for them to fail.

This new school year is the first that Washington’s charters law will really get a workout. Maybe in time we’ll decide that the 40-school limit needs a big adjustment.
-Rob McKenna

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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.