It's time: Fund our schools
It's time: Fund our schools! Scene at a Lake Washington Education Association rally at Kirkland's Marina Park (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Editor’s Note: Two weeks ago, Repub­li­can-dom­i­nat­ed majori­ties in the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Sen­ate passed a bill restor­ing fund­ing for char­ter schools and allow­ing new char­ters to be autho­rized, in defi­ance of the Supreme Court’s rul­ing in League of Women Vot­ers v. State of Wash­ing­ton. NPI is ask­ing Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee to veto this leg­is­la­tion and uphold our Con­sti­tu­tion. We laid out our rea­son­ing in the fol­low­ing mes­sage sent to the Gov­er­nor this after­noon, which we are releas­ing as an open letter. 

Dear Gov­er­nor Inslee:

On behalf of the team at the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, we write to respect­ful­ly urge you to veto E2SSB 6194 in its entire­ty and hon­or the State Supreme Court’s rul­ing that I‑1240 is unconstitutional.

NPI strong­ly believes in pub­lic schools and elect­ed pub­lic school gov­er­nance that all cit­i­zens can par­tic­i­pate in. Pub­lic schools are the cor­ner­stones of strong, vibrant com­mu­ni­ties. We have a mutu­al respon­si­bil­i­ty to each oth­er to ensure that our youth receive a well-round­ed edu­ca­tion. Our state’s founders con­sid­ered this to be so impor­tant that the Con­sti­tu­tion they hand­ed down to us calls this respon­si­bil­i­ty Wash­ing­ton’s para­mount duty. Our pub­lic schools are the only schools required to serve all chil­dren no mat­ter their back­ground or needs.

We also believe in the pro­fes­sion­al edu­ca­tors in our pub­lic schools. E2SSB 6194 pro­hibits employ­ee bar­gain­ing at a char­ter school from affil­i­at­ing with oth­er bar­gain­ing units. This is not a pro­gres­sive pol­i­cy in sup­port of work­er rights — it’s an inap­pro­pri­ate polit­i­cal statement.

Our pub­lic school dis­tricts and edu­ca­tors are work­ing hard to pro­vide inno­v­a­tive ser­vices that meet and exceed those claimed by char­ters even while they are chal­lenged with strained bud­gets due to under­fund­ing from the state.

The Supreme Court spoke clear­ly last year when it struck down I‑1240 and char­ters as uncon­sti­tu­tion­al in League of Women Vot­ers v. State of Wash­ing­ton. We urge you to uphold the Supreme Court’s rul­ing and veto E2SSB 6194 in its entirety.

Although char­ter pro­po­nents cite the needs of dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren, the evi­dence from around the coun­try shows that char­ter schools aren’t help­ing those stu­dents — and may actu­al­ly be hurt­ing them. A report released last week by the Civ­il Rights Project at UCLA found that char­ter schools are four times as like­ly to sus­pend black stu­dents than white stu­dents. Char­ters have also been blamed for accel­er­at­ing the reseg­re­ga­tion of Amer­i­can schools. A recent study by Duke Uni­ver­si­ty found that char­ter schools were respon­si­ble for reseg­re­gat­ing North Car­oli­na schools. The ACLU filed a law­suit charg­ing that char­ters in Delaware were caus­ing resegregation.

The focus of Wash­ing­ton’s Leg­is­la­ture and exec­u­tive depart­ment should be com­ply­ing with the Supreme Court’s ear­li­er deci­sion in McCleary and pro­duc­ing a viable plan to raise the rev­enue required to ful­ly fund our pub­lic schools.

The Leg­is­la­ture must do more than sim­ply define basic edu­ca­tion. It must pro­vide pub­licly-gov­erned school dis­tricts with the resources they need to car­ry out their man­date. We have over a mil­lion chil­dren in our pub­lic schools, and they’re not get­ting the sup­port they need.

Sad­ly, at the same time the Leg­is­la­ture was bla­tant­ly ignor­ing the Supreme Court’s most recent McCleary order, which imposed sanc­tions on the state, majori­ties in both hous­es were intent­ly lis­ten­ing to the near­ly two dozen lob­by­ists who descend­ed on the Capi­tol Cam­pus to lob­by for E2SSB 6194.

The results of the just-con­clud­ed spe­cial ses­sion and reg­u­lar ses­sion that pre­ced­ed it once again demon­strate the pow­er of mon­ey in our state’s cap­i­tal. Those who already have for­tunes are well-posi­tioned to ask for (and get) mon­ey out of the Leg­is­la­ture for their pri­or­i­ties, while mid­dle and low income fam­i­lies are not.

Unlike the leg­is­la­tors who vot­ed for E2SSB 6194, you were elect­ed statewide to rep­re­sent all Washingtonians.

We urge you to be an advo­cate for the more than one mil­lion pub­lic school­child­ren who can­not afford dozens of lob­by­ists in Olympia work­ing on their behalf to ensure their schools are prop­er­ly fund­ed in a time­ly fash­ion. Veto E2SSB 6194, and let the well-off pro­po­nents of char­ters fund those schools, while keep­ing pub­lic mon­ey flow­ing sole­ly to pub­lic schools, as our founders intended.


Robert Cruick­shank
North­west Pro­gres­sive Institute
Andrew Vil­leneuve
Founder and exec­u­tive director
North­west Pro­gres­sive Institute

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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7 replies on “NPI calls on Governor Jay Inslee to uphold our Constitution by vetoing charters bailout”

  1. I appre­ci­ate your let­ter and agree with your mes­sage. Thank you for this mes­sage to Gov­er­nor Inslee. In your edi­tor’s note, isn’t the House cur­rent­ly 50 Democ­rats and 48 Repub­li­cans (not Repub­li­can-dom­i­nat­ed as you sug­gest)? Feel free to delete this com­ment if you edit your intro or if I’m off base. Thanks again for your work!

    1. Bri­an: Yes, the House does have fifty Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­bers and forty-eight Repub­li­cans. But most of the votes for E2SSB 6194 were Repub­li­can, even on the House side. Thir­ty-nine of the fifty Democ­rats vot­ed against the bill, and the remain­ing Democ­rats sided with the Repub­li­cans. This is why the edi­tor’s note says “Repub­li­can dom­i­nat­ed majori­ties”. It’s refer­ring to the majori­ties that passed the bill. 

  2. Schools should not be “for Prof­it”, but for the edu­ca­tion of our future citizens.

  3. Like the Stranger and the dog­matites over at SaveSeat­tleSchools, your oppo­si­tion to char­ters is blind to the ped­a­gog­ic good and the real­i­ty of what’s actu­al­ly hap­pen­ing inside the Wash­ing­ton schools. You cite stud­ies from oth­er states and ignore the impor­tant alter­na­tive to the non-char­ter pub­lic school sys­tem that Char­ters already, after less than a year, rep­re­sent for the demo­graph­ic that tra­di­tion­al­ly under-per­forms. You should take the time to vis­it, with an open mind, one of the 8 Char­ters cur­rent­ly oper­at­ing and see for your­self the good things that are happening. 

    Your oth­er argu­ments are weak: 1. That Inslee should respect the Supreme Court deci­sion: I know you know that this is how gov­ern­ment oper­ates: A court strikes some­thing down and it is then up to the leg­isla­tive body to fix the prob­lems, if it so desires. That’s just what hap­pened here and that’s how a 3 branch gov­ern­ment works.

    2. That fix­ing Char­ters some­how inter­feres with a McCleary fix: Red her­ring; does­n’t hold water. There are now 8 and will maybe be up to 40 Char­ters even­tu­al­ly. The annu­al oper­at­ing bud­get of the cur­rent 8 is $14m. A McCleary fix will take sev­er­al bil­lion. Argu­ing that Char­ters some­how pre­empt­ed McCleary ignores the math. More­over, leg­is­la­tors were crys­tal clear they had no inten­tion of solv­ing McCleary this year. Char­ters had noth­ing to do with that. 

    You real­ly need to go and see who these Char­ters are serv­ing. Your insinuation/assertion that it is white mid­dle class kids is so far off the mark that it makes you seem out of touch. I don’t think your argu­ments are intel­lec­tu­al­ly dis­hon­est. I do think that in this case you’ve picked what you believe to be the Pro­gres­sive par­ty line and this caused you to be lazy in under­stand­ing what’s hap­pen­ing in Wash­ing­ton. I expect more from you guys.

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