Friends, neighbors, countrymen/women!

I urge you to join me in voting NO on I-1240, the charter schools initiative which is on the November 6 ballot, for the reasons outlined below.

Please pass it on!

My recommendation is to vote No on this flawed proposal which has been created and funded by a wealthy few, and whose core product is a very problematic concept with an extremely mixed track record.

Even Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has admitted that charters have serious problems: “(…) unfortunately, we have far too many mediocre charters and we have far too many charter schools that are absolutely low performing.”(Duncan’s address to the National Charter Schools Conference, July 1, 2010, start at the 9-minute mark.)

Did you know that Initiative I-1240 has a “trigger” mechanism in it that allows as few as 51% of parents or teachers to convert an existing school into a charter? And this could happen in any kind of school, not just those that may be struggling. That means as many as 49% of parents (or teachers) could oppose this action but could not stop it.

Did you know that if I-1240 passes, a separate, new Charter Commission will be created to oversee the charter process, comprised of unelected political appointees who would have with no direct accountability to voters? Our existing elected school board would not have oversight of these charter schools.

This commission would cost an estimated $3 million to create — extra, costly bureaucracy which we cannot afford in these economically lean times.

I-1240 is not an organic, grassroots, effort with wide community support. Instead, it is bankrolled by a small group of wealthy political and business interests who paid about $2 million to get it on the ballot  and have spent upwards of $10 million on it so far. A number of these investors are not even from our state. (See: THE CHARTER PUSHERS: WHO IS BANKROLLING THE $8 MILLION EFFORT TO BRING CHARTERS TO WASHINGTON STATE?)

Washington voters have already said NO 3 times to privatizing public education via charters, and for good reason. This is an unnecessary diversion of attention and resources.

There are many troubling problems associated with charters — lack of public accountability or oversight, they are re-segregating our schools, they have selective enrollment, high attrition rates, lack of service for children with special needs, plus they simply are statistically no better than genuinely public schools.

In fact, 83 percent are no better, or are worse. See the 2009 CREDO Report by Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes. It is the most comprehensive, peer-reviewed study of charter schools to date, and it was even funded by charter supporters, such as the Walton family, of Wal-Mart fame. Yet the results were not impressive for charters. It’s been a pretty damning study for their cause.

(I wrote about this here: The Pillars of Education Reform are Toppling, for Seattle Education 2010 and the Huffington Post.)

And take a look at the long list of community groups and organizations who oppose I-1240 versus the small group of business and political entities that support it: No on 1240 Tent vs Yes on 1240 Tent 

Those who oppose it include almost all of the local Democratic clubs, the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, community groups like El Centro de la Raza, the WA State PTA and Parents Across America.

Those who support it include political, ed reform and business groups, a number of them financially connected to the Gates Foundation (which, unfortunately, supports privatization of public ed, increased testing and other damaging “reforms”). Here’s their list: League of Education Voters, Stand for Children (this is a political lobbying group that received $3.5 mil from Gates to set up shop in Seattle a few years ago), (so-called) Democrats for Ed Reform, Washington State Roundtable, Seattle Chamber of Commerce Association of Washington Business.

These groups do not represent public school families.

Already our state ranks near the bottom of all 50 states in per-pupil funding. We cannot afford to divert any of our already limited funds to charter schools with limited oversight that will serve only some children.

We need to remain focused on our existing schools and invest in them, not divert scarce resources to charter management companies and multimillion-dollar franchises like KIPP, Inc., Rocketship Education, Inc. or Green Dot, Inc. for less than a 1 in 5 chance of a better outcome for only a few students.

Let’s give all our schools and all our children the resources and creative autonomy they all need and deserve for a rich learning experience — and not limit creative and academic freedom to just a few lucky lottery winners.

For more information, please see:

The inconvenient truth about charter school Initiative 1240

Say NO to the Charter Schools Initiative

GUEST COLUMN | Sen. Kohl-Welles on charter schools (Queen Anne & Magnolia News)

No on I-1240

People for Our Public Schools

NO on 1240 Facebook page 

Charter School Scandals

Charter schools

Choice Without Equity: Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards

• Washington State PTA
• League of Women Voters
* State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Randy Dorn
• WASA – Washington Association of School Administrators
• WSSDA – Washington State School Directors Association Board
* Association of Washington School Principals
• Washington Education Association
* National Education Association
* Bellevue Education Association
* Edmonds Education Association
* Federal Way Education Association
* Franklin Pierce Education Association
* American Federation of Teachers
* Renton School Board
* Seattle Public School Board
* Tacoma School Board
* Eatonville School Board
* Evergreen School Board
* Franklin Pierce School Board
* Goldendale School Board
* Moses Lake School Board
* Onion Creek School Board
• Educational Service District 113
* Riverview School Board, serving Carnation, Duvall and parts of unincorporated East King County.
* Renton School District
* Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, Jose Banda
* Superintendent Dennis Kip Herren, Auburn
* Superintendent Dr. Nick Brossoit, Edmonds
* Superintendent Steve Myers, Educational Service District 10
* Superintendent Vera Risdon, Renton
• Japanese-American Citizens League Board
• Seattle-King County NAACP
• El Centro de la Raza
* Northwest Progressive Institute
* Tacoma-Pierce County Black Collective
* Asian Pacific Islanders for Civic Empowerment (APACE)
* Faith Action Network
* Japanese-American Citizens League Board
* Minority Executive Directors Coalition (MEDC)
* Washington Community Action Network
• Parents and Friends for Tacoma Public Schools
• Parents Across America – Seattle chapter
* Parents Across America- Tri-Cities chapter
* Parents Across America-Tacoma chapter
* Parents Across America- Spokane chapter
* Senator Adam Kline
• 1st District Democrats
• 5th District Democrats
* 10th District Democrats
• 11th District Democrats
* 21st District Democrats
• 22nd District Democrats
* 23rd District Democrats
* 27th District Democrats
• 32nd District Democrats
• 33rd District Democrats
• 34th District Democrats
• 36th District Democrats
• 37th District Democrats
* 39th District Democrats
* 40th District Democrats
• 41st District Democrats
• 43rd District Democrats
• 45th District Democrats
• 46th District Democrats
• 48th District Democrats
• King County Democrats
* Lewis Country Democrats
* Mason County Democrats
• Pierce County Democrats
* Skagit County Democrats
* Whatcom County Democrats
* Pierce County Democrats
* Pierce County Young Democrats
* San Juan Central Democratic Committee
* Young Democrats of Skagit County
• Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle
* Kristine Lytton State Rep.40th District
• Citizens United for Responsible Education
• IUOE Local 609 (Operating Engineers)
* Washington Federation of State Employees
* Washington State Council of Firefighters
* Washington State Labor Council
* Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587
* Martin Luther King Central Labor Council
* Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity
* Pierce County Central Labor Council
• Association of Washington School Principals
• Northwest Progressive Institute
• UW Alumni Assn. Multicultural Alumni Partnership Board
* The Seattle Stranger
* Luis Moscoso, 1st District State Representative
* Derek Stanford, 1st District State Representative
* Lisa Brown, 3rd District State Senator
* Steve Conway, 29th District State Senator
* Steve Kirby, 29th District State Representative
* Maralyn Chase, 32nd District, State Senator
* Dave Upthegrove, 33rd District State Representative
* Joe Fitzgibbon, 34th District State Representative
* Joe McDermott, King County Council Member
* John Stokes, Bellevue City Council
*Tana Senn, Mercer Island City Council
* Carol Simpson, Newcastle City Council
* Ed Prince, Renton City Council
* Greg Taylor, Renton City Council
* Tom Vance, Sammamish City Council
* Sally Clark, Seattle City Council
*Jean Godden, Seatlle City Council
* Bruce Harrell, Seattle City Council
* Nick Licata, Seattle City Council
* Rob Holland, Port of Seattle Commissioner
* Will Hall, Shoreline City Council
* Chris Roberts, Shoreline City Council
* Stephanie Wright, Snohomish County Council
* Marty Campbell, Tacoma City Council
* Anders Ibsen, Tacoma City Council
* Ryan Mello, Tacoma City Council
• Wayne Au, PhD in education, parent, and editor of Rethinking Schools
• James Bible, President, Seattle-King County chapter of NAACP
• Scott Heinze (Tacoma School Board Director)
* Jamie Devereaux, Gray Middle School PTA, President
* Linda Hanson, former President, Washington State PTA
* Deborah Heart, legislative representative to Goldendale School District & Former President, WSSDA
* Kathy Leviton, Program Director, Renton Technical College
* Jim Martin, Former Assistant To Superintendent – Battle Ground & Former President Evergreen School Board Evergreen School District
* Jeffery Russell, President, Everett Public Schools Board of Directors
• Charlie Mas, Seattle Schools Community Forum blog
• Barbara de Michele,former School Board member, Issaquah School District
• Sue Peters, Seattle Education blog
• John Stokes, Bellevue City Council member
• Melissa Westbrook, Seattle Schools Community Forum Blog

Thanks, & remember to vote!


Sue Peters

Seattle public schools parent

Co-founding editor, Seattle Education Blog

Founding member, Parents Across America

Contributing writer, the Huffington Post