Washington State Supreme Court Rules Charter Schools Unconstitutional

The Washington State Supreme Court declared charter schools unconstitutional, after almost a year of deliberation.

Chief Justice Barbara Madsen said that charter schools do not count as “common schools” because their administrators are appointed, not elected, the Seattle Times reports.

“Money that is dedicated to common schools is unconstitutionally diverted to charter schools,” Madsen ruled.

“The Supreme Court has affirmed what we’ve said all along—charter schools steal money from our existing classrooms, and voters have no say in how these charter schools spend taxpayer funding,” remarked the president of the Washington Education Association, a non-profit organization that advocates for stronger and better-funded public schools.

In July 2013, a coalition consisting of the Washington Education Association along with the League of Women Voters of Washington, El Centro de la Raza, the Washington Association of School Administrators, and individuals filed a lawsuit, insisting that charter schools were unconstitutional for “improperly diverting public-school funds to private organizations that are not subject to local voter control.”

The Washington State Supreme Court agreed.

This is perhaps the most significant win in the fight against the privatization and stratification of public schools. Although the decision only applies state-wide, it could have enormous implications on US education policy and potentially have a ripple effect across the country, where corporate-backed charter schools are gobbling up underfunded public schools (and corporations and hedge funds are making millions of dollars in the process), where racial segregation is on the rise, and where poor and working-class Americans find it increasingly difficult to get a good education for their children.

Or “states’ rights” arguments will reign supreme, and corporate, hedge fund-backed, billionaire-dominated, both lucrative not-for-profit and for-profit charter schools will dominate in some states while democratically controlled public education will persist in others.