Saturday, November 12, 2011

Support for charter schools

Dear advocates,

Allowing the operation of charter schools in Washington is on our legislative platform for 2011-12. It is one of eight supported issues, which means the association will testify in support of a proposal that meets our criteria. To the extent possible the government relations coordinator (that’s me) will participate in conversations about what a good charter school law would entail. Staff focus goes first to the Top 6 issues, then to supported issues.

As with all platform issues, the government relations coordinator will let members know when there are opportunities to testify or otherwise engage in charter legislation or conversations.

Following is the filter that will be used this legislative session to evaluate any charter school proposal. This same filter is used for all school proposals.

Washington State PTA support for charter schools

Washington State PTA shall initiate or support legislation or policies that drive innovation and accountability in public education by allowing the operation of public charter schools in the state of Washington.

Nationally, PTA acknowledges charter schools as one avenue to school reform, and supports the concept of charter schools only if the schools reflect the positions and principles of the association*. These include but are not limited to:

  • Strong family-school partnerships that include shared decision-making at all levels of school governance – including decisions about opening or closing a school 
  • Positive, student-focused learning environments, including the opportunity for alternative learning experiences
  • Promotion of and assurances for opportunity and equity for all children
  • Universal access to fully prepared, effective teachers (“highly qualified”) 
  • School performance targets of which student growth is a top priority – including transparent and comparable information on how schools are serving students
  • Appropriation of public education funds for public purposes only, channeled through locally elected school boards

Additionally, Washington State PTA will only support legislation or policy decisions relating to charter schools that adhere to and comply with applicable laws and guidelines set forth for other public elementary and secondary educational institutions.

PTA supports our system of public education as the major vehicle for perpetuating the basic values of a democratic system of government. This system must be strengthened and continue to be governed by public officials accountable to the public and supported by adequate funding.
* Positions and principles of the association include National PTA’s public policy agenda, including goals for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind), as well as Washington State PTA’s body of positions, as defined by our 2011-12 legislative platform, our long-term legislative principles, our board positions and our resolutions.
This is a general guide. With any proposed legislation, the government relations coordinator (that’s me) reviews the association’s body of work to see where the proposal does and does not align. The government relations coordinator then consults with the association’s president, executive director and legislative director as necessary, and works with legislators and other advocates to promote the legislative agenda of the association.

Because of the volume of bills in any given session as well as the broad nature of our advocacy, the association relies on the short-term platform to focus its efforts. But we are always mindful of our longterm legislative principles, our vision and mission.

Our vision: Making every child’s potential a reality.

Our mission:
  • To be a powerful voice for all children
  • A relevant resource for families and communities
  • A strong advocate for the well-being and education of every child.

1 comment:

  1. I'm very sorry to see what WSPTA---an organization I once trusted---is doing with my contributions. I'd really dislike having to start an alternative to WSPTA. Like most people, I have limits on my time and resources. But if we parents have to find a credible, trustworthy alternative to WSPTA, we'll do so.

    To see "our" PTA, lobbying for the richest 1%---ironically the very people who don't send their own children to public school---is a sad sight.

    Again, I'm so sorry to see the way in which you've betrayed our trust and abused our support. We'll remember this.