Editor's Note: The following is a guest op-ed by Alison Meryweather. View the No on 1240 op-ed here.
As a public school parent and a past President of the Issaquah PTSA Council, I know firsthand that our traditional public school system does a good job for many students but fails to meet the needs of far too many others — thousands of students are slipping through the cracks.
It's time to give those students and their parents the option of public charter schools, which are already working in 41 other states.
Even with all of the hard work from teachers and parents, 14,000 students are dropping out of our traditional public schools each year. Think about it this way: every year, a population larger than that of Woodinville drops out of school and heads into a future filled with uncertainty.
The monetary cost of school dropouts to our society is measurable — $10,500 per year for the rest of that student's life, according to our state's own figures. But the emotional impact on the students themselves can't be shown on a ledger sheet and is beyond our ability to imagine.
Initiative 1240 offers voters the opportunity to approve a fresh approach, a new option within our public school system of as many as 40 public charter schools over five years. Public charter schools are publicly funded based on student enrollment, free and open to all students without restriction, and are authorized and overseen by our local school boards or a state commission.
Public charter schools are independently operated and have the flexibility to tailor curriculum, school hours, budgets and staffing to the needs of the students and neighborhoods they serve.
Most importantly, public charter schools are succeeding in giving hope to struggling students. In the 41 other states where public charter schools are already allowed, they are raising graduation rates and facilitating real academic gains that translate to success in both college and career.
The public charter schools allowed by I-1240 will provide more options for parents of students who need a change of direction and a different learning environment, a potential lifeline to mothers and fathers worrying about their children's future but for whom choices are currently limited.
To ensure the best future for Washington and for students who are struggling, I ask you to vote YES on I-1240 to allow the option of public charter schools.
Alison Meryweather is a public school parent, past President of the Issaquah PTSA Council, and serves on the boards of the Issaquah Schools Foundation and Volunteers for Issaquah Schools. The PTA has recognized Alison's commitment to education by giving her the organization's Outstanding Advocate, Outstanding Service and Golden Acorn awards.
The League of Education Voters Foundation (LEV) is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization made up of parents, students, and leaders who believe in a quality education from cradle to career. LEV is the only Washington-based organization working to improve public education from early learning through higher education. We shape the debate, build powerful coalitions and grow the grassroots to achieve meaningful reform and adequate resources for education.