WA’s first charter school opens – WEA would stop it if they could

Yesterday was a day to celebrate in Washington. Our state’s very first charter school, First Place Scholars Charter School, opened its doors Wednesday morning with a unique mission to help kids with some real challenges, including homelessness.

First Place’s big day comes almost two years after voters passed our charter school law by initiative. For those who believed in the promise of charter schools to help kids who need a different approach, it was a long road to that success.

The best charter schools have a sense of mission that pervades everything they do. There’s no doubt that First Place has it in droves. The K-5 school exists to serve kids who not only come from impoverished circumstances but also have “multiple traumas” that could hold them back, including unstable living situations.

First Place has a carefully chosen curriculum, utilizes new technologies to help kids learn, and puts an emphasis on data to assess what is and isn’t working for individual children. Teachers at the school focus on professional development year-round, and the school offers personalized family case management. None of that is cheap; the school estimates that the public funding that comes from being a charter school will cover only 1/3 of its budget.

The school’s staff and board will work hard to raise the other 2/3 because First Place isn’t just an alternative school, it’s a moral cause. That’s why it’s so galling that the Washington Education Association, the state teachers union, is leading the charge against the charter schools law.

The union values its work rules and seniority system so highly that any alternatives are seen as a dire threat that must be stopped. What can you say about an organization that will work so hard to stop a school whose mission is to intervene in the lives of kids who desperately need it and help them overcome a bad start in life?

That’s an organization whose values are out of whack. The only “threat” a school like First Place poses is to generational poverty. The WEA should drop its lawsuit and let First Place, and the other charter schools that will open soon, focus on the kids.
-Rob McKenna

**If you’re impressed by First Place and their mission, consider making a donation. Contributions made through the Northwest Republican Community Fund will be matched, doubling your impact.

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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.