Competition is good for just about everything. It helps keep prices down on your automobile. It helps improve the quality of your appliances. And at the college level, it helps to produce top notch students for the business world.
But you wouldn’t know competition is good if you listened to the Washington Education Association.
Last week, the state Supreme Court heard arguments in another charter school challenge case. Outside of the Temple of Justice, hundreds of charter school students rallied to keep their educational homes open. Inside, the supreme court listened to unions and others, through their attorneys, try to tear down the state’s new, innovative educational institutions.
Previously, the Supreme Court struck down a 2012 charter school law. But a new law, enacted by the Legislature in 2016, reopened competition in elementary and primary education in the state. The law allowed tax dollars attached to a public-school student to move with the student into a “charter” school. That’s different than private schools, where parents pay tuition costs.
The Washington Education Association claims that its unconstitutional for tax dollars to be used to offset nonprofit charter schools. The union also argues the state has no direct control over the funding diverted from public to charter schools. Furthermore, the union wants justices to strike down the new law and shut down educational competition.
We don’t think that’s in the best interest of students, taxpayers or the state.
Study after study shows that charter schools nationwide provide taxpayers more educational bang for their buck than public schools. Furthermore, charter school teachers are not required to join the teacher union.
And therein lies the real issue — the Washington Educational Association is afraid of losing its ability to charge teachers “dues” to work.
We think that’s a good thing.
In recent years, in violation of state law, teacher unions have gone on strike. In many instances, the strikes have effectively shut down public schools, forcing taxpayers to pay for public employees breaking state law and abandoning their duties. The more charter schools that open, the fewer students and taxpayers will be harmed by unlawful strikes.
Besides, at the high school level, charter schools are not really different than Running Start programs in which tax dollars follow students to colleges and technical schools out of reach of the Washington Educational Association.
Charter schools provide opportunities for gifted, handicapped and other non-traditional students in our state. They provide competition. And they are directly accountable to parents — if students don’t get the education promised, parents can simply move their child elsewhere, with tax dollars in tow.
A decision isn’t expected until the fall. We hope the Supreme Court will see through the challengers’ money-grubbing ruse and give a thumbs up to charter schools.