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Washington Moves From Laggard to Leader

By Lisa Macfarlane, DFER WA State Director

Originally published on National Alliance for Public Charter Schools' Website

(February 5th, 2013)

In its first year of competing in the race for best charter school law, Washington won a bronze medal! On behalf of the coalition that wrote the initiative and campaigned for its passage, we are proud and pleased that the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has given our law a prestigious #3 ranking.

After four prior ballot box losses, Washington voters approved our first charter school law last November. Being 20 years late to the party gave us some clear advantages. We knew that strong authorizing, oversight and accountability would lead to better schools, so we looked to the Alliance’s model law for guidance.

Washington’s law creates a state commission, allows multiple authorizers, and is well aligned with the model law’s quality control components. It also provides operational autonomy to charter schools. The WA law specifically references the National Association of Charter School Authorizer’s principles and standards for quality authorizing. Washington started with a cap on the number of charter schools because we want to lead with quality.

Now the real work begins to ensure that we open 40 great charter schools over five years, serving the kids most in need of better educational opportunities.

Lisa Macfarlane is the Washington State Director for Democrats for Education Reform, a co-founder of the League of Education Voters, a past President of Schools First (Seattle's levy and bond committee), the sponsor of two statewide education funding initiatives, and a PCO in the 46th District. Read Lisa's full bio here.