Charter schools are one of the biggest issues for Washington voters on Tuesday.
Voters here have considered charters three times before and rejected them each time. Charter schools are allowed in 41 other states. The Initiative 1240 proposal would open as many as 40 public charter schools in five years, and supporters (which include Paul Allen, Bill Gates, and Walmart heiress Alice Walton) believe they offer hope for students in the worst-performing schools and districts.
Leaders, teachers and parents from 260 of the state's 295 school districts have signed a letter opposing I-1240. They have warned that charter schools would siphon millions of dollars in public funding from existing schools and that there are no guarantees they will be any better than existing schools.
The effectiveness of charter schools is widely and hotly debated. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools says there have been as many as 200 studies of charter school effectiveness, but only a handful used high-quality, scientific methods. Some of those studies, however, showed charter schools were effective at helping low-income students do better, according to The Associated Press.
One week before the election, ParentMap crowd-sourced opinions about charters from parents on our Facebook page. I created the following word cloud from those responses. The most commonly used words and comments appear, with the largest words occurring most frequently.
Resources on charter schools: