December 14, 2015
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Charter schools look for creative lifelines while awaiting legislative fix

After the state Supreme Court declined last month to reconsider its decision shutting down the state’s public charter schools, the Washington Charter School Commission is finalizing plans to dismiss its staff and end operations.

The state’s first charter school, First Place Scholars, announced today that it will go back to being a tuition-free private school, thanks to a grant that will ensure its 106 students can continue learning without disruption.

Most of the state’s other eight public charter schools are still looking for a solution. One possible short-term fix is to keep them open as Alternative Learning Experiences (ALE) under the guidance of an established school district. Eight of the state’s nine charters are exploring setting up a ALE relationship with Mary Walker School District in Stevens County.

That short-term solution, which would let public charter schools continue to be publicly funded, means that the 2016 Legislature has the responsibility to cure the underlying constitutional problem, Opportunity Washington writes.

Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, delves into the public charter school issue with a bit longer version of his popular “57 seconds” explainer videos.

The Spokesman-Review is calling for the Legislature to solve the problem. The Washington State Charter Schools Association also released this television spot, “Keep Schools Open.”

Excel Public Charter School in Kent, which opened its doors to sixth- and seventh-grade students three weeks before the first Supreme Court ruling, will stay open for the rest of the year thanks to donors, according to the Kent Reporter. One parent at Excel said the experience has changed the life of her son.

“He is more involved. He understands adult respect, community,” said Susan Scheid about her sixth-grade son. “It taught him a different way of learning. He feels he can learn the rate that he learns.”

For more about public charter schools, contact AWB’s Amy Anderson.

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Leading Without New Top-Down Mandates

Recognize success industries are having in cutting CO2

By Kris Johnson, AWB president, and Daren Konopaski, vice president and business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 302

It is true this year's drought and wildfire season wreaked havoc on the state, a point that Gov. Jay Inslee makes while promoting his government-centric carbon emissions reduction plan. But the governor's labeling of those who disagree with the details of his plan as "fear mongers" is not fair.

There is no denying there is more work ahead, but there is also no denying that Washington employers and their employees are already leading the way toward the cleaner future that Gov. Inslee -- and frankly all Washingtonians -- so strongly desire.

Gov. Inslee has continued to say "it's time to lead," but Washington employers and employees are already leading the way toward environmental solutions that work -- without top-down, bureaucratic mandates that raise taxes on everyday citizens but don't solve the problem.

Click here to read the full op-ed in The Herald
Delays Hurt Workers and Economy

State should speed up permits for export docks

By Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch

While our neighbors to the north and south of Washington watch their port infrastructure grow and flourish, our state -- the most export-dependent in the nation -- is improbably holding up billions of dollars in private infrastructure development that would only help us compete with California and Canada.

The delay with regard to the export terminal expansions in Bellingham and Longview is patently unacceptable. Proposed projects and potential investments in this state should benefit from a fair, timely and predictable review process. Yet that is not the case with these projects, whose review has been in process for three years and subject to numerous, ongoing delays.

It is one thing to politically disagree with these projects on the basis of exporting a particular commodity -- in this case, coal -- and to express concern over the environmental standards to which these projects must adhere. It is quite another to attempt to bind these projects with endless government bureaucracy and red tape in hopes that the investors will give up and go elsewhere. Our competition is ready and willing to accept new business and is making the needed investments to do so.
Click here to read the full column in The Olympian
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