Washington Charter Schools Act, Initiative 729 (2000)

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The Washington Charter Schools Initiative, also known as Initiative Measure 729, was on the November 7, 2000 election ballot as an Initiative to the People in Washington, where it was defeated This initiative would have authorized the sponsoring of independently-operated charter schools.

Election results

Washington Initiative 729 (2000)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No1,211,39051.83%
Yes 1,125,766 48.17%

Election results via the Washington Secretary of State.[1]

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[2]

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

Shall school districts and public universities be authorized to sponsor charter public schools, independently operated, open to all students, and subject to revised state regulation?

Support

Arguments in favor

These arguments in support appeared in the official State of Washington Voter Guide:[3]

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

Charter schools are public schools designed and operated by non-profit organizations made up of parents, teachers or community leaders. The schools operate under terms of a contract -charter- negotiated with the sponsoring local school board or four-year public university.

CHOICE- INNOVATION- ACCOUNTABILITY

Charter public schools give parents another choice in guiding their children's education within Washington's public school system. Because charter public schools are schools of choice, they are directly accountable to students, parents, teachers and their sponsor. In exchange for freedom to innovate, they are accountable for their students' ability to meet rigorous standards. As part of the public school system, charter schools must meet high academic standards and use state certified teachers. They are required to give annual progress reports and may be audited at any time. The sponsoring local school board or four-year public university monitors their quality and effectiveness and can withdraw sponsorship if the school is not performing. The charter school spirit of innovation and competition will help propel all of our public schools forward.

INCLUSIVE

Charter public schools: Are open to all students. Must follow all health, safety and civil rights laws. Cannot charge tuition or have a religious affiliation.

DOES NOT INCREASE TAXES

Charter public schools cannot levy taxes. They receive the same amount of state funding per enrolled student as other public schools. Local levy tax money may be allocated only when the charter school's sponsor is the local school district.

CHARTER SCHOOL CHOICE IS ALREADY AVAILABLE IN 36 STATES

Washington's families also deserve the quality public school choices charter schools will offer.

For more information, call 206.442.9160 or visit www.yes729.org.

Rebuttal of Statement Against

Parents, teachers, and children deserve choices beyond the status quo. Charter Public Schools are public schools ..... open and free to all. The "special interest" they serve is children. Charter Public Schools won't raise taxes. 1-729 is referred to as a "non-budget related" initiative. In a diverse and increasingly complicated society, Charter Public Schools will spur innovation and learning. 1-729 gives parents, teachers, and students choices in improving public education, while remaining accountable to the public.

Supporters

The following individuals signed the argument in support of Initiative 729 in the State of Washington's official voter guide:

  • Judith Billings, former Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Doug Wheeler, Executive Director, Zion Prep
  • D. Sam Smith, former President, Washington State University
  • Roberto Maestas, Executive Director, El Centro De La Raza
  • Jeannette Hayner, former State Senator and school board member
  • Mari Clack, Long-time public education advocate

Opposition

Arguments against

These arguments in opposition appeared in the official State of Washington Voter Guide:[4]

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: UNCONSTITUTIONAL, UNFAIR, EXPENSIVE.

Washington State's constitution requires a "general and uniform system" of public schools. That is why, for nearly 200 years, our schools have been called "common schools." The public schools are for everyone. And yet the proponents of 1-729 seek special treatment. They don't want the rules to apply to them ... just to everybody else. Charter schools, by their very definition, cater to special interest groups.

NO ACCOUNTABILITY- TO YOU, THE TAXPAYERS, OR TO THE STATE.

1-729 would send public tax dollars to these new schools with little or no accountability to any elected official ... not your local school board, not the state superintendent of public instruction. And this, just when we all rightly demand more public accountability for our tax dollars, to ensure the success of all children.

$16M OF YOUR TAX DOLLARS FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS.

The state budget office predicts that these new schools will cost Washington taxpayers up to $16M, to pay for youngsters now educated at home or in private schools. Make no mistake about it... l-729 is public funding for private schools.

YOU, THE VOTERS HAVE ALREADY SPOKEN!

Charter schools were on the ballot in Washington state in 1996. Two-thirds of our citizens soundly rejected that proposal. Two-thirds. Charter schools did not even receive 40% "yes" votes in any single county in Washington. What has changed since that resounding defeat? Nothing ... and yet charter school zealots brought their rejected proposal back to the legislature every year - where it was also rejected - every year. Vote No on yet another unconstitutional initiative funded by special interests! Vote No on private schools funded with your state dollars! Vote No on 1-729!

For more information, call 360.943.5721 or visit www.i729.org.

Rebuttal of Statement For

"Operated by non-profit organizations?" 1-729 gives your tax dollars to private boards who can and do contract with for-profit corporations to run their experimental charter schools. Taxpayers should be extremely skeptical of schemes financed by special interests. Washington ranks third highest in the nation in providing innovative, alternative public school choice. Higher academic standards and public accountability are already in place. Our schools need and deserve your support. Keep the "public" in our public schools.

Opponents

The following individuals signed the argument in opposition of Initiative 729 in the State of Washington's official voter guide:

  • Elizabeth Pierini, President, League of Women Voters of Washington
  • Jon L. Rabine, President, Joint Council of Teamsters #28
  • Carol Mohler, President, Washington State Special Education Coalition
  • Glenn Gorton, President, Public School Employees of Washington
  • Anne Golden, Legislative Chair, Washington State School Directors Association
  • Milt Snyder, Washington Association of School Administrators

Path to the ballot

Initiative 729 was filed on February 23, 2000 by James R. Spady of Seattle. 306,361 signatures were collected to qualify it for the ballot. The measure was placed on the ballot as provided for by the state constitution.[5]

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