After three unsuccessful campaigns, the push to bring charter schools to Washington state holds a narrow lead in initial vote counts statewide but trails in King County.
Backed with $10.8 million in donations, charter schools supporters argued Washington should join the 41 other states, saying the publicly funded, privately run schools can provide better options for many struggling students. If Initiative 1240 succeeds, it will be a blow to the state’s education leaders, nearly all of whom opposed the measure.
Supporters of I-1240 had a large financial edge with $10.8 million in donations, mostly from wealthy individuals such as Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Walmart heiress Alice Walton.
Yet opponents included nearly all of the state’s education establishment — the organizations for teachers, superintendents, school board members and parents. They argued that charters would weaken the public school system by siphoning money from existing public schools, which the state Supreme Court has ruled are already underfunded.