What the court ruling on charter schools means for the state of Washington, so far


The people of the great state of Washington have voted three times against charter schools.

Then this year the Wal-mart Waltons joined ranks with Bill Gates and the kings of Dick’s Burgers as well as Jeff Bezos of Amazon to spend millions of dollars on Initiative 1240, a proposal to establish charter schools in our state.

Due to erroneous claims about charter schools in countless TV commercials, it was passed.

Now the initiative has become law and is being challenged on its state constitutionality by educators and parents.

A judge in Seattle just made a decision on the case challenging the new law.

As many of you know, it’s not easy reading legalese so I am providing you with the interpretation of an attorney who has been following the case.

The words in italics are mine.

1) Charter schools can’t get money for construction funds because they are not “common schools” because they are privately managed and are not under the supervision of an elected board.

The question immediately comes up about levies that have been approved by Seattle. Seattleites have been very generous with providing additional funding for our schools and recently the local ed/corporate reform crowd has been sweating bullets over getting levy money approved by the voters. It was always my suspicion that it was all about the charters and not about the children with this moneyed crowd.

2) The court decided that the law removes OSPI supervisory authority which in the state of Washington could be considered unconstitutional but needs to reach the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” in all cases.

Assuming this case will be taken to the State Supreme Court, the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” will be discussed and established at that time.

3) The court decided that the law preventing teachers in charter schools from being a part of the greater teachers’ union and being represented by them for collective bargaining purposes was legal.

This is a victory for the corporate reformers who don’t want to pay equitable wages for teaching our children.

5) The court held that charters are constitutional, as long as they don’t receive common school funding.

The charter advocates call this a victory because their billionaire investors will get them off the ground and again there is the question of levy money.

This could be considered a victory for the opponents of charter schools, because it affirms that public schools must be under public control.

Studying the history of public education, there are two main reasons why we have elected school boards to control our public schools:

1) No taxation without representation
2) No education without parental oversight and influence.

And this footnote from the attorney:

People were very suspicious of public schools in the 19th century because they were worried about what sort of ideas their kids would be taught.

Parents demanded to have a say and refused to surrender their children to the state. This fear has eroded in recent years as communities look for cheap ways to provide for a public education. That’s where corporations come in. Coca Cola actually has created and donated health science textbooks to public school across the USA. What sort of nutritional information do you think kids get from a textbook printed by Coca Cola? Oh, and by the way, Coca Cola has teamed up with Gates to promote charter schools….

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. People’s world views are shaped by two primary sources – their family, and their education.

Submitted by Dora Taylor

Post Script:

In response to our attorney’s comments, yes, the folks with money who want to make more money from corporatizing our schools are focusing on urban districts and schools in those districts that receive Title 1 funding. Urban schools because of the density and greater possibility of establishing a greater number of charter schools and Title 1 schools/students because those schools and students receive additional funding from the Federal government.

If the folks who are chomping at the bit to have their schools established in our state, and they are, have to rely on private sources of funding, it will not sustain their schools. If they can’t takeover public school property, they are in a double-bind. Real Estate and construction is expensive, that’s why charters like to “co-locate” and eventually take over a school . Many times they even are able to negotiate agreements with districts for leasing a building for $1 each year depending on how crooked the folks are managing the properties. And if Seattlites can recall, we had a couple of those folks a few years ago.


  1. This would be a good moment for progressive school boards and teachers unions to step forward and say they are interested in receiving proposals for innovative new school ideas that were generated by respondents to the charter school call. “If you’d like your creative idea for a school to be vetted by a representative body and then come to life as a legal common school, implemented by real certificated teachers who are part of their city’s union, we’d like to talk to you.” Seize the good ideas, implement them as real public schools under the governance of our community school boards.

  2. Dora
    Thanks so much for the interpretation.
    I am curious what your legal consultant has to say about the constitutionality, both federal & state, of denying the right of teachers to choose a representative bargaining organization. Is this the precedent for Right to Work States. It will be a lot of work educating and electing state reps and senators who understand the big picture.


    1. David,

      I’ll send the question on to the attorney.

      I see no positive incentive for a good, seasoned teacher to want to teach in a charter school without equitable pay, benefits and protections but I guess that’s why charter operators like Teach for America, Inc. recruits and Gates spent several mil opening an office for them in Seattle.


      PS For anyone interested in knowing more about Teach for America, see: https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/teach-for-america/

    2. From one of the plaintiff’s:

      “The ruling points out that 1240 doesn’t get rid of bargaining. It just says that each charter school is its own bargaining unit.”

      So, no, a teacher in a charter school cannot belong to the NEA/WEA but the teachers can organize within the charter to bargain.

      The majority of charter schools that I have read or heard about do not have unionized teachers.


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