Opinion: High-Performing Charter Schools Can Close the Opportunity Gap

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, July 12, 2012

For the fourth time in 16 years, Washington state is considering passing a law that would allow charter schools to serve students.

The new initiative, however, is specifically designed to create conditions for high-performing charter schools — schools with a proven track record of student achievement — to help with one of our state's most pressing issues: closing the opportunity gap.

Initiative 1240 will go to the voters in the general election on Nov. 6.

Charter schools are public schools and are legally obligated to be accessible to all students. They operate under higher levels of performance accountability in exchange for more freedom over curriculum, budget and staffing decisions. Washington is one of nine states left that does not allow this type of school to serve students.

An oft-cited study from Stanford University's Center For Research on Education Outcomes in 2009 states that "for students that are low income, charter schools had a larger and more positive effect than for similar students in traditional public schools. English Language Learner students also reported significantly better gains in charter schools." These are high-performing charter schools.

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