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Seattle School Board Says "No" To Charter Initiative

Seattle Public Schools

The Seattle School Board said a unanimous "no" to charter schools last night. The board members approved a resolution against Initiative 1240, which would bring up to 40 charter schools to Washington over five years.

Backers of Initiative 1240 argue that Washington is behind the times because it's one of only nine states that don't allow charters. At Wednesday's meeting, Seattle School Board Member Marty McClaren said even if Washington was the last hold-out, she would be "proud to stand as the one state that does not succumb to the allure of the charter school movement."

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Charters are run outside of public school districts, so they're not usually unionized and don't have to adhere to district policy. Charter supporters say that allows innovation. But Board President Michael DeBell said the strategies of successful charters are already underway in Seattle Public Schools, "which is a longer school day, offering extra services like health care, counseling, reaching out to families and trying to create an environment at home that is more conducive to education."

Board Member Kay Smith-Blum said she sees charters as just a trend on the way out as it becomes clear that they usually don't do better than regular public schools. "Charter schools, at this point in our educational development cycle, is like coming to the party at 10:15 when the party's over at 10:30," Smith-Blum said.

Most of the public testimony at the board meeting was from critics of the charter school initiative. After the board voted unanimously to approve the resolution against I-1240, there was a round of applause from the audience.

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