Charter Schools

With Charter Schools Newly Legalized, Largest WA Districts Take Different Approaches

From bury their heads to embrace the change

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Washington voters have decided they want to add charter schools to the education mix in the state, and the three largest districts are taking different approaches to the question: What should charter schools mean to our community?

Seattle has decided to basically ignore the question for now, Tacoma is still learning and exploring and Spokane has jumped in with both feet.

Spokane Superintendent Shelley Redinger said districts that do not embrace the possibility of charter schools may have the issue forced on them.

"We don't want divisiveness," said Redinger, who experienced a similar transition in Oregon at a previous job. She moved back to Washington in 2012 and says the approach districts take now matters.

Although school districts are not required to make any immediate decisions, the new law gives them options.

The charter law approved by voters in November allows up to 40 charter schools to open in Washington state over the next five years. Proponents say they can help minority and low-income students improve their learning, close the achievement gap and head to college. Opponents worry they will take money away from regular public schools.