I was disappointed to hear that this week opponents of Initiative 1240, the charter school initiative, are trying to recruit school board members to sign a petition in opposition to the initiative.
This effort attempts to draw school board members into a larger political dispute which does not concern most of them. School board members are volunteers who stand for election in order to serve their schools and local communities. The vast majority of the 295 school districts in Washington will be unaffected by Initiative 1240 because this measure allows only 8 charter schools a year and a total of just 40 over five years, a tiny fraction of Washington’s 2,345 schools. Initiative 1240 says preference must be given to charter schools that serve at-risk students, so charter schools are likely to be limited to the few urban districts which serve large numbers of poor and minority children.
School board members are likely to avoid getting involved in Initiative 1240 for two reasons: 1) Initiative 1240 is a strong school reform measure, and 2) Washington state voters are likely to pass this measure. School board members will not enjoy being characterized as opposed to school reform at their next election for school board.
Polls show that voters across Washington recognize that Initiative 1240 is good for children because it will allow at-risk inner-city children the chance to attend a high-performing charter school.
[Reprinted with permission from the Washington Policy Center blog]