Right now, Washington is one of nine states that does not allow charter schools to compete with the public school system. That could change this November, when Washington residents vote on Initiative 1240.
This is not the first time Washington voters have considered allowing charter schools in the state. Voters have rejected similar initiatives three times: in 1996, in 2000, and in 2004.
So why do the backers of Initiative 1240 believe this time is different? Perhaps partly because 1240 is being promoted by a well-funded campaign whose supporters include Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen. According to a recent Elway Poll, a polling firm based in Washington state, 47 percent of Washington residents now favor 1240?s passage, while 38 oppose.