Recent headlines declare I-1240, the initiative for public charter schools, has passed. I am relieved to hear that Washington now joins the 41 other states that have them and the education reform movement that is sweeping this country.
Despite desperate last-minute opposition by the Washington Education Association, I-1240 passed. By 52 percent in Kitsap! The middle class said it’s time to join the mainstream.
I resigned from the League of Women Voters because its state leaders took it upon themselves to oppose I-1240, without polling members like me. How undemocratic is that? They lost.
What surprised me, though, was that our North Kitsap School Board also opposed 1240 in a quiet vote in October. This is counter-productive, when NKSD is looking to close an elementary school next year. There is no more likely buyer of an empty school building than a nonprofit public charter (who else could use such a special building?), and I’m glad the board sees that now. Maybe the booming Gateway Schools would buy the closed school, but they already have their own in-town campus and have recently bought Crosspoint Academy.
The North Kitsap School Board might benefit by gaining the authority to sponsor a charter, before someone else gets a state board sponsorship here; it’s not trivial to get one.
Another reason the NKSD should welcome charters is that they have the skills and patience to bring challenged kids up to grade level, which our middle schools apparently do not: only 55 percent of North Kitsap’s eighth-graders were “proficient” (i.e. at grade level) in the state’s math test last spring — the lowest percentage in the county!
Most likely the first charters will be created in the I-5 corridor. However, I caution our board not to be complacent about that: I do private tutoring via the major tutoring site; there are always about a hundred requests near Poulsbo. These are just the parents who can afford $30-40 an hour for extra education. This is further evidence that all is not well in our schools, nor are alternative programs very effective. You opponents of reform cannot say otherwise.
The facts speak, and the people have spoken.
Dr. Fred Springsteel