By Donna Gordon Blanketship
(From Associated Press – Published in The Olympian, November 12th, 2012)
Washington voters have narrowly approved an initiative that clears the way for up to 40 charter schools to be opened in the state over the next five years.
Initiative 1240 has clung to a slim lead as more ballots were counted following last week’s election.
“This is really another signal from voters that they want more options and faster change from our public education system,” said Shannon Campion, executive director of the Washington chapter of Stand for Children, one of the groups supporting the initiative. “We are thrilled with voter support for 1240.”
But opponents weren’t willing to concede defeat on Monday.
“It’s a close race,” said Marianne Bichsel, spokeswoman for People for Our Public Schools, which opposed the measure. “We are going to wait until every vote is counted.”
Jennifer Boutell, a Tacoma parent who served as field director for People for Our Public Schools, said the close vote on charters reflects voter feelings.
“They want to talk about real solutions, and how we can fund our schools,” she said.
This is the fourth time a charter school proposal has been on the ballot in Washington state. Voters rejected charter schools in 1996, 2000 and 2004.
Supporters say the charter proposal would offer new choices for struggling kids and their families. Opponents say charters have a mixed track record in other states and they would take away money from existing public schools.