WHEREAS Republicans have been trying for years to undermine public education by under-funding it and then blaming teachers and public schools for (poverty-related) low performance by students;

WHEREAS the State Constitution says that public education is the “paramount duty” of state government; that there should be a “general and uniform system of public schools”; and that “the entire revenue … shall be exclusively applied to the support of common schools”;

WHEREAS the state Supreme Court ruled in the McCleary decision that public schools are under-funded and later held the legislature in contempt for refusing to fund education;

WHEREAS the state Supreme Court ruled that charter schools are unconstitutional;

WHEREAS Democrats Judy Clibborn, Steve Hobbs,  Christopher Hurst, Ruth Kagi, Kristine Lytton, Jeff Morris, Mark Mullet, Eric Pettigrew, David Sawyer, Tana Senn, Larry Springer, Pat Sullivan, and Tim Sheldon voted for SB 6194, the charter school bill;

WHEREAS Governor Inslee allowed SB 6194 to become law;

WHEREAS  SB 6194 funds the existing charter schools and authorizes the creation of additional charter schools, even though McCleary is not yet funded; and

WHEREAS, regardless of whether the state Supreme Court rules SB 6194 to be unconstitutional, support by Democrats for SB 6194 legitimizes the notion of charter schools, empowers Republicans to argue that the current Supreme Court justices are too liberal, and moves the needle to the right on the issue of government funding for education;

WHEREAS the state Democratic Party Platform explicitly opposes charter schools;

WHEREAS handing a major bipartisan victory on this issue to Republicans in an election year strengthens their stature, gives them bragging rights, and increases the chances of their receiving funding from pro-charter school forces;

WHEREAS the narrow passage of I-1240 (the charter schools initiative) in 2012 was due to massive funding by the Walton family, Bill Gates, and other wealthy people opposed to public education;

WHEREAS the narrow support by the public for I-1240 is no justification for supporting charter schools, any more than past support by the public for Tim Eyman initiatives is any justification for supporting tax breaks for billionaires;

WHEREAS the charter school vote was contrary to the wishes of major Democratic constituencies, including Labor, teachers, and progressives;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we Democrats censure the behavior of these lawmakers.

by Donald A. Smith, PhD, PCO (41st LD, Bellevue)