January 11, 2016
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Lawmakers propose charter school fixes

Two different bills that would tweak the state’s 2012 charter school initiative were released last week. Both aim to address issues the state Supreme Court identified as inconsistent with a century-old ruling about funding of “common schools.”

The first bill, introduced by Democratic Sen. Andy Billig and Republican Sen. Michael Baumgartner, both from Spokane, would make charter schools accountable to local school boards. Prospective charters would negotiate over freedom from district policies like the length of a school day, staff rules, and curriculum.

A second proposal would leave the charter school initiative largely intact, but move its funding source to the state lottery account, rather than general education dollars. The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn; Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island; Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah; and Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, is due for a hearing in the Senate education committee on Tuesday.

This second proposal meets the needs of students, parents and communities around the state, said Tom Franta of the Washington State Charter Schools Association.

“We are especially pleased to see lawmakers from both sides of the aisle come together around a solution that maintains the ability of all parents in Washington – not just those in some districts – to choose the public school that best fits the needs of every child,” Franta said.

Meanwhile, the state’s charter schools that opened before the court’s ruling last September – and the thousand students who attend them – are being forced to find creative ways to stay open until the Legislature can pass a fix. Washington Business magazine has a primer on the charter school issue, how the state got to this point and what is next.

In other education news suggesting the need for reform and creative solutions, the state earned a “C” grade on a new education report card as the achievement gap continues to widen.

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By the Washington Climate Collaborative

Washington is one of the lowest-carbon states in the nation when it comes to emissions from road vehicles, electricity generation, manufacturing, or commercial and residential buildings. A combination of forward-thinking policies and innovation has reduced our carbon emissions below what they were in 1990 and created a clear and downward trend into the future. We fully expect the state to meet its emissions goals for 2020, which is to have Greenhouse Gas emissions reduced to 1990 levels. All of us -- families, farmers, workers and employers -- are invested in protecting our environment, and it shows in the many ways this success has been achieved.

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Click here to read the full blog post from the Washington Climate Collaborative
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