This November, Washington could become the 42nd state to authorize charter schools. Washington residents will vote on Initiative 1240, which if passed will “allow a maximum of up to 40 public charter schools to be establish over a five-year period as independently managed public schools operated only by qualified nonprofit organizations approved by the state,” according to the measure’s ballot language.
Opponents of Initiative 1240, including the Washington Education Association (WEA), claim charter schools in Washington would hinder the state’s constitutional responsibility to fund education. The WEA’s political action website says the measure would “drain millions from Washington’s K-12 public schools” into privately run charter schools—even though charter schools are publicly funded institutions and thus do not take money away from public education.
A more likely explanation for the unions’ opposition is the loss of its monopoly over public education finances. Another reason is the possibility it could make it harder to gain new members. Most charter schools are not unionized and organizing campaigns are expensive.