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Seattle Schools Chief Opposes Charter Initiative

Seattle Public Schools

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda says he’ll vote “no” on Initiative 1240, which would legalize charter schools in Washington state.

I-1240 would allow up to 40 charter schools in Washington state over five years. Proponents of I-1240 say it would give parents and students more school choice.

But Superintendent Banda says he doesn’t see enough parents and community members supporting the initiative. Instead, campaign finance reports show that I-1240 is backed mainly by wealthy donors like Bill Gates, Paul Allen and the parents of CEO Jeff Bezos. Much of the campaign is also funded by out-of-state donors.

Banda says that’s not who should bring charters to Washington. "I would hope that if a charter initiative is really what this community and what this state wants, it would be funded more grassroots or you would at least have more community and parent groups in support of it. I don’t see that so far," he says.

Banda came to Seattle Schools this year from a district in Anaheim, Calif., where charters are allowed. "I think once they come in, if there’s not a clear accountability and a way to make sure that they meet the needs and the goals that they’ve set out, that there be a clear way that the charter could be revoked," he says. "And I know it’s easier said than done, having seen charters operate in California."

The Seattle School Board is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a resolution opposing the charter initiative.

Washington is one of nine states that don’t allow charter schools.

Year started with KUOW: 2008