I-1240: Creation of public charter schools

Initiative Measure No. 1240 is a prominent issue for Washington state voters this election and concerns  the creation of a public charter school system in the state. Many students on campus may have heard about this measure due to the voice of Students for Education Reform Whitworth. SFER held an informational meeting about I-1240 Oct. 14 and it has been a target issue of  meetings so far this year. Co-Chapter Leader Sergio Jara Arroyos said SFER  Whitworth was contacted by the campaign itself to inform students about I-1240. He said they took into account the connection the initiative has to education reform and the goals of SFER.

One of the main goals  of SFER  is  to  empower students as stakeholders in the education system  and  connect them with tools to advocate for change, according to its website, studentsforedreform.org.

Currently, many argue for the necessity of another public school option for students in Washington state. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools website,  charter schools are  independent public schools that are allowed more freedom for innovation apart from  a  school district. They involve a partnership of parents, students and teachers to  improve student achievement.  Charter schools are held accountable to state and federal academic standards.

“Forty-one states have charter schools,” sophomore Jessica Bronte, financial director of SFER Whitworth, said. “Washington is one of the nine that don’t. [I-1240 has to do with] bringing charter schools to Washington, allowing 40 charter schools to be built in Washington over five years.”

SFER has been involved in the campaign in favor of passing I-1240. Jara Arroyos expressed his enjoyment over his many conversations with students and community members, whether they plan to vote yes or no on the measure.

One way SFER has campaigned is  by canvassing, which is a face-to-face approach at informing and conversing with voters about issues. SFER members visited dorms on campus as well as surrounding neighborhoods, allowing opportunities for discussion and awareness about I-1240.

According to the State of Washington voter’s pamphlet, “This measure would authorize up to forty publicly-funded charter schools open to all students, operated through approved, nonreligious, nonprofit organizations, with government oversight; and modify certain laws applicable to them as public schools.” That statement appears on the Washington state ballot.

Jara Arroyos and Bronte said that a charter school system would provide an  alternative option for students to receive a quality public education. According to the “Argument For Initiative 1240” in the voter’s pamphlet, charter schools in other states  help struggling students stay in school and succeed.

“[Charter schools can help in] neighborhoods with high at risk students so that anyone anywhere can get a good education it doesn’t matter where they live,” Jara Arroyos said.

According to seattletimes.com,  priority for the creation of charter schools would be for the purpose of serving at risk students  and  students  from low-performing schools.

Most opposition to I-1240 surrounds the concern that the creation of charter schools will take money  away from current public schools. The “Argument Against Initiative 1240” in the voter’s pamphlet says charter schools will drain millions of dollars from existing public schools.

The opposition also says charter schools will only serve a small number of students, undermine local control and are a risky gamble for the state.

Annmarie Crandall Copy Chief

Contact Annmarie Crandall at acrandall14@my.whitworth.edu