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Meet the people who will choose Washington's charter schools

Washington voters said yes last November to allowing a limited number of charter schools, and now we know the names of the people who will select most of them. The Washington Charter School Commission is charged with setting criteria for new charter schools, and choosing which ones to authorize (Some school districts will eventually be able to do that, too).

The governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker announced their appointments to the commission. They include a one-term Seattle School Board member, a former Gates Foundation staffer and an education professor.

What they do not include is anyone with direct experience at charter schools, which League of Education Voters CEO Chris Korsmo says is a weakness in an otherwise pretty strong group.

“It would have been great to have some folks with some experience on there, there’s no doubt about it. And the learning curve on this thing is going to be steep,” Korsmo said.

The commission is also light on teachers, though former state representative Dave Quall used to teach. Washington Education Association president Mary Lindquist says that’s disappointing, but her concerns are more basic.  

“None of these people, who will be making some very important decisions, have any accountability to the people who are paying for our schools,” Lindquist said.

The union is considering legal challenges to the charter school law.

The law requires that commission members have a record of supporting charter schools … though one member, Mary Walker school district Superintendent Kevin Jacka, lent his name to the campaign against the charter school initiative. He didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.
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