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2012: I-1240 (Charter Schools)

Initiative 1240 authorizes up to 40 charter schools and creates a new state agency, the Washington Charter School Commission, composed of nine political appointees. Washington charter schools would be open to all students and cannot charge tuition. They must follow practices developed by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and the Robertson Foundation.

Ballot Title
Initiative Measure No. 1240 concerns creation of a public charter school system.

This measure would authorize up to forty publicly-funded charter schools open to all students, operated through approved, nonreligious, nonprofit organizations, with government oversight; and modify certain laws applicable to them as public schools.

Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]

Ballot Measure Summary
This measure would allow a newly-created state commission or approved local school boards to authorize qualifying nonreligious, nonprofit organizations to operate public charter schools, limited to forty schools over five years. Public charter schools would receive standard per-student public school funding and be open to all students without tuition. Public charter schools would be subject to teacher certification requirements, government oversight, and performance reporting requirements, but exempt from certain laws and school district policies.

The pros:

  • Charter schools provide families with public school choice options. Parents will have the ability to choose the school best suited for their child.
  • Charter schools can act as laboratories of reform, identifying successful practices that could be replicated by traditional district public schools. Also, by waiving regulations in a limited number of schools, the most prohibitive policies can be identified and eliminated for all schools.
  • Through school choice, competition within the public school system is created, pressuring school districts to reassess their educational practices.
  • Charters will lead to overall systemic reform through the pressure and competition of the choice mechanism.
  • Charter schools, unlike traditional public schools are held accountable. If charters do not perform, they are not renewed.

 The cons:

  • Charter schools, due to their small size and limited numbers, will provide only some families with public school choice options, thereby raising issues of fairness and equity.
  • Successful reform models such as New American Schools and Core Knowledge have already been identified. Why not attempt these reforms in existing schools? If rules and regulations are so burdensome, they should be waived for all public schools.
  • Charter schools have an unfair advantage when competing against district public schools since they tend to be smaller and free from regulations. Charter schools have access to federal funds and other revenue sources.
  • Charters are too limited in scope to adequately pressure the entire public school system.
  • Charters are not accountable as they are freed from rules and regulations intended to ensure quality in public education.




A handful of individuals — most with ties to Microsoft and Amazon — are bankrolling the initiative. Learn who they are.

Initiative-1240 : Washington State, 2012

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