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School Board Members Take Opposing Sides on Charter Schools

Former Mercer Island School Board President Pat Braman and Director Dave Myerson signed a letter voicing opposition to Initiative 1240, which would permit charter schools in the state, while Director Brian Emanuels supports them.

Mercer Island School Board members Pat Braman and Dave Myerson joined with parents, education leaders and educators from across Washington state to oppose charter schools  — but it's unclear how much influence the letter will have, even with other members of the school board.

According to MyNorthwest.com, the letter — signed by representatives from 260 of the state's 295 school districts — represents a last ditch effort to sway voters as polls show the public favoring the intiative and the Nov. 6 election fast approaching.

The letter expresses opposition to Initiative 1240, which would allow up to 40 charter schools to be established in the state. Charter schools are not currently allowed under state law.

The letter states that I-­1240 would take millions from public schools to pay for privately-run charter schools, that it ignores 99 percent of the state's students, and that it ignores a solution for all children.

Local parents Tori Lindquist and Jackie Brown also signed the letter, which is attached as aPDF attachment to this article (click to enlarge).

More local support seems to be on backing the Yes on I-1240 campaign. Mercer Island couple Jackie and Mike Bezos, parents of Amazon.com CEO and founder Jeff Bezos, gave $1 million and are frequently listed on campagin ads on television. State Senator Steve Litzow, PTA and Stand for Children board member Judy Chase, former Elmhurst, IL School Board of Education member Jim Faulstich, and music teacher Connie Wible, business owner Carol Gullstad, and Frederick H. Beck also count themselves as supporters, according to the Yes on I-1240 website.

(Ed. Note: This story was updated to add information to describe local supporters of the Yes on I-1240 campaign.)

Trevor Hart November 03, 2012 at 08:40 PM
State money follows the kid. If the kid moves out of the public school system that's less kids tax supported schools need to accomodate. From what I've seen, this should be a win - win. The kid gets a better education in the Charter School and the Public Schools get to reduce their class size to supposedly, and hopefully, improve their performance.
Kendall Watson November 04, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Tani Lindquist, who it appears did not sign the letter, is the current teachers union leader — or Mercer Island Education Association (MIEA) president, to use the formal term.
Dave Myerson November 05, 2012 at 02:45 AM
I have received queries why I oppose I-1240, and offer the following explanation. On the one hand, I would love to see some competition among public schools–and charters could provide that. Through such competition, parents might be able to find a school with a solid elementary math curriculum, one based primarily on direct instruction and problems to solve, and not one that asks students to learn several different multiplication algorithms. The Singapore text comes to my mind. On the other hand, I-1240 does not afford sufficient accountability to tax payers. I am very reluctant to spend tax money without the direction of an elected School Board. If I-1240 is implemented, any private party founding a charter school could choose a superintendent or principal, and they would receive state tax monies, but would only be loosely accountable, and that 5 years down the road to an appointed body. That is not nearly enough accountability, and taxation without representation. In addition, our local Mercer Island school tax levies would go not just to MI public schools, but to any charter(s) located within Mercer Island. The students may or may not live in Mercer Island. There is a requirement that charter school(s) accept students from all districts on an equal basis. Any suitably located charter school can tap our taxes. That is local taxation without local benefit. For me, this bill has the fatal problem of siphoning tax money to parties not accountable to the electorate.
Lisa Thomas November 05, 2012 at 03:17 AM
So Tori Lindquist, who signed the letter according to your article, is not the same as Tani Lindquist. Are they related?
Kendall Watson November 05, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Thank you very much Director Myerson for taking the time to explain your position on Mercer Island Patch. I'd also like to clarify to all readers of this story (I've added an editor's note at the end) that Mr. Faulstich was a school board member, but not on Mercer Island. He was elected board member on the Elmhurst Board of Education in Illinois. According to the Elmhurst Board of Ed., Faulstich served from 1974 to 1977.

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