Washington Charter School Authorization, Referendum 55 (2004)
Referendum Measure No. 55 would authorize charter public schools and would set conditions on operations. Charter schools would be operated by qualified nonprofit corporations, under contracts with local education boards, and allocated certain public funds.
Votes cast by the 2004 Legislature on final passage: Senate: Yeas, 27; Nays, 22; Absent, 0; Excused, 0. House: Yeas, 51; Nays, 46; Absent, 0; Excused, 1.
The legislature passed Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 2295 (ESSHB 2295) concerning charter public schools. 
30% OF OUR KIDS DROP OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL.
CHARTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS WILL HELP.
- Our public schools work well for most children, but not all. 30% of students drop out of high school. More than 50% of African-American, Latino and Native-American children drop out.
- Charter public schools are tuition-free public schools that are managed independently from the usual bureaucracy. They help children who are falling through the cracks of our regular public school system.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY IN PUBLIC EDUCATION IS OUR GOAL.
CHARTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS WILL HELP.
- In low-income areas, too many children are trapped in low-performing schools because their families cannot afford to live in neighborhoods with better schools. The system doesn’t work for them. They are denied equal opportunity to learn.
- While spending more money may help many kids, we need more than just money to solve the dropout and “achievement gap” problems. The system needs to change. Charter schools reduce bureaucracy and empower teachers and principals to innovate.
R-55 FREES EDUCATORS FROM BUREAUCRACY SO THEY CAN HELP EDUCATIONALLY UNDERSERVED CHILDREN.
- Qualified nonprofits run charter public schools under detailed, 5-year performance contracts. Like other public schools, charters employ state-certified teachers and cannot discriminate in admissions. Unlike other public schools, charters must pass independent performance audits.
- Charters get results because they receive state funding only if families choose them. They receive local funding only if local school boards and voters approve.
CHARTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS HELP KIDS WITHOUT RAISING YOUR TAXES.
- Charter public schools don’t raise taxes. Charters actually generate more money for public education by tapping millions in federal and charitable dollars available only to charters.
- Of course, the education bureaucracy doesn’t want to compete with charter public schools. But when public schools innovate, children win.
- Please vote to help children. Approve charter public schools. Approve R-55.
REBUTTAL OF ARGUMENT AGAINST
- “Progress”? Washington’s 30% dropout rate is higher than most and not getting better. Children trapped in failing schools need alternatives, now. Children slipping through the cracks need alternatives, now. R-55 doesn’t take money from public schools, it takes children out of failing schools. Failing schools waste taxpayers’ money. Dropouts waste taxpayers’ money. Approve R-55 and improve our public schools through more parental involvement, choices, innovation, accountability, independent performance audits, and less bureaucracy, without raising taxes.
PROTECT OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND REJECT REFERENDUM 55
- By voting to Reject Referendum 55, you protect the progress we are making in our public schools. You will tell the Legislature, once and for all, you do not want to spend public money on expensive, risky propositions like charter schools that, in other states, have not performed as promised. Vote to Reject Referendum 55 and tell the legislature that you want quality public schools for every student.
- Washingtonians understand education. We know that to improve our schools we must reduce class sizes and put a well-qualified educator in every classroom. Instead of implementing the voter-approved initiatives to reduce class sizes and provide annual cost-of-living increases for teachers and school employees, the legislature passed a bill authorizing charter schools in Washington.
REJECT TAKING MONEY AWAY FROM OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS
- Charter schools will drain more than $100 million from public schools in the coming years and diminish our ability to continue improving all schools. Charter schools take money away from all students to benefit just a few.
REJECT SPENDING OUR TAX DOLLARS WITHOUT ACCOUNTABILITY
- Charter schools are run by private boards, not publicly-elected local school boards. This means that charter schools spend public money but are excused from being accountable to taxpayers.
REJECT CHARTER SCHOOLS, AGAIN
- Charter school initiatives have been rejected by Washington voters twice in the past eight years. Join the thousands of teachers, school employees, parents, the Washington Education Association, the American Association of University Women, the Washington State Labor Council, the Washington Association of Churches, and many others by rejecting charter schools—again. Reject Referendum 55.
REBUTTAL OF ARGUMENT FOR
- All children in Washington deserve a quality education, but charter schools don’t deliver. That’s why Washington voters have rejected charter schools twice.
- The New York Times recently reported, “Federal data show children in charter schools perform worse on math and reading tests than their counterparts in regular schools.” Washington voters already approved initiatives for smaller class sizes and a quality educator in every classroom. The State must fulfill this commitment first. Reject Referendum 55.
The measure failed with 1,122,964 yes votes and 1,572,203 no votes in 2004.
- Procedures for qualifying an initiative in Washington
- Laws governing the initiative process in Washington
- Campaign finance requirements for Washington ballot measures
- Washington 2004 ballot measures
- Washington 2004 citizen initiatives
- Petition drive deadlines in 2004
- Washington signature requirements