Rep. Sawyer: Public charter schools and the families they serve need the Legislature’s support
December 1, 2015 | By Washington House Democrats
OLYMPIA – In response to the state Supreme Court’s recent refusal to reconsider its recent decision on charter schools, Rep. David Sawyer (D – Parkland) announced his support of public charter schools and the more than 1,100 students they currently serve. Here is his statement:
“My disappointment at the state Supreme Court’s refusal to reconsider cannot compare with the fear and uncertainty that more than 1,100 Washington families have faced since the court decision this September — families like Ana’s, who attends Green Dot Destiny Middle School in Tacoma.
“Ana started falling behind in Kindergarten, when she could not master basic grade-level expectations, which continued for the next few years. When Ana’s parents asked the school for help, they were told that the only option to get help was to put her in the special education program. Ana began to dread going to school, fighting her parents and crying most mornings. She began to ask her parents for ‘mental health days’ and begged not to go to school.
“Now at Destiny, Ana is passing all her classes and has an A in English Language Arts. According to Ana’s parents, Ana is like a different child. She has a positive attitude and is much more confident. She hasn’t missed a day of school yet this year.
“Public charter schools like Destiny Middle School are not the only solution, but they are part of a range of solutions that increase access to high-quality public education — particularly for children of color, who stand to benefit the most from the public charter school law voters passed in 2012.
At Destiny Middle School, 81 percent of the students are non-white, compared only about half of the student population in the Tacoma School District. Teacher diversity is also a hallmark of Destiny Middle School, where 54 percent of the teachers are non-white, as compared to the state average of just 9 percent for non-white teaching staff.
“Public charter schools provide an invaluable option for Washington families and help close the equity gap. That’s why voters approved public charter schools by 56 percent in the 29th Legislative District and 54 percent in Pierce County at-large.
“I understand and appreciate the challenge we face as a state to fully fund education, but investing more in existing solutions alone won’t work for every child. The recent court decision coupled with our continued lack of funding for Safety Net services that were cut to balance the budget during the recession has doubled-down the pressure on some of our most vulnerable kids and families.
“A child’s zip code or the color of her skin should not dictate whether or not she will graduate from high school, attend college, or achieve future career success. As legislators, we need to ensure that every child has the opportunity to get a great education. Public charter schools represent a path forward for some students who are underserved by our current educational system.
“I call upon my fellow legislators to join me in finding a solution for kids and families whose lives have been changed by public charter schools.”