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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 17, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Charter schools

Better education comes with less bureaucracy

Charter schools are publicly financed, privately managed schools that are models of innovation and reform. They sit in stark contrast to the outdated 19th-century model of traditional public education that is the norm in our state. Forty-one states and the District of Columbia have charter-school laws — but don’t count Washington among them.

The Washington Legislature passed a charter-school law in March 2004, but eight months later it was repealed by the voters due in large part to an anti-charter coalition led by the state’s largest teachers union. Opponents charged that there was not enough evidence that showed student achievement was any better at a charter school versus a traditional public school.

In the five years since Washington voted against charter schools, there have been numerous studies and reports that point to an abundance of successes, especially among the low-income and underserved populations our legislation would have targeted. Jerry Large’s column [“Zeroed in on zone for success,” NWMonday, June 15] introduced Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone as a model of success.

A key part of Canada’s successful formula is freedom from traditional public-school bureaucracy. It is time to reconsider Washington’s opposition to charter schools.

— Pamela S. Home, Bothell

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