Olympia, Washington, March 13: Proponents of enabling legislation to create charter schools in Washington State succeeded today in passing a supportive bill in the state senate, by a vote of 26 to 23. Three Democrats joined all but two Republicans on the winning side.
When charter schools were first proposed in Washington in the mid-1990s, the idea was novel, but by now thirty nine states have enacted such provisions. In Washington, the legislation traditionally has been defeated in the state senate. Also, two initiative drives to enact the bill by popular vote were defeated in elections in 1996 and 2000 that featured last minute campaign funding by state teachers unions. The 2000 initiative, however, nearly passed and did prevail in many of the urban counties that would be most affected by charter schools.
“This is one of the most important steps in what has turned out to be an eight year effort,” said Fawn Spady of the Education Excellence Coalitiion. Fawn Spady, with her husband, Jim Spady, founded the citizens movement to pass charter school legislation in Washington.
Now the bill goes to the state House, where Democratic Speaker, Frank Chopp of Seattle, has promised to promote the proposal.
Jim Spady is Vice President of Dicks Drive-In Restaurants in Seattle and is a director of Discovery Institute. Discovery President Bruce Chapman saluted the Spadys after the vote in Olympia today.
“Truthfully,” Chapman said, “none of the progress on charter schools to date would have been possible without the patient and determined citizen leadership of Fawn and Jim Spady. All of us who care about the future of common school education are in their debt.”
More on the issue can be found at www.wacharterschools.org.