Political battles in courts and in public opinion threaten to limit the pathways many families rely on to meet the needs of society’s most marginalized students. Parents can’t sit on the sidelines. In Washington state teachers’ unions are seeking to stop charter schooling. The excerpt below is from Ed Pacheco, the parent of a charter school student.
When charter public-school initiative went on the ballot in 2012, I voted a resounding “yes,” as did the majority of my fellow residents in Yakima, a city almost half comprised of Latino residents. Our community celebrated when eight new charter schools opened in Washington in 2015, and we began organizing to open a charter public school of our own.
But before the Yakima community could move forward, a coalition led by El Centro de la Raza sued the state, attempting to shut down Washington’s existing charter public schools and remove the power of choice from parents throughout the state.
Replace “El Centro de la Raza” in the sentences above with “teachers unions” and the El Centro actions — while still abhorrent — seem par for the course. Teachers unions regularly oppose common-sense progressive policies and programs that benefit students of color.
Across the country, students in charter public schools receive greater educational benefits than their peers in traditional public schools, according to the 2013 National Charter School Study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes. That’s especially true for Hispanic English-language learners, who in charter public schools were found to have received the equivalent of an additional 50 days of learning in reading and 43 days in math when compared to their peers in traditional public schools.
That’s why last week, my daughter Ava and I joined together with families representing each of Washington’s charter public schools to file a motion to intervene in El Centro’s lawsuit and defend Washington’s strong charter public-school law alongside the state.
Nothing will intimidate us into giving up the educational opportunities we have fought so hard to secure for our children.
By intervening in this cynical lawsuit, we are taking a stand for our children, charter public schools and for the positive difference these schools make for entire communities.
I urge El Centro de la Raza’s leaders to visit a charter public school in Washington to see the learning happening and the futures being built. I also urge them to truly honor their mission by removing El Centro from the lawsuit against Washington’s charter public schools.
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