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January Networking Lunch Recap - League of Education Voters
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
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Spokane Regional Field Director, Sandra Jarrard, and INBA Board Member, Amy Biviano.

INBA had a fantastic start to 2016 with Sandra Jarrard, Spokane Regional Field Director for the League of Education Voters, presenting her organization’s involvement with Washington’s charter school system.

The League of Education Voters (LEV) was founded in 2001 by Washingtonians to support an education system that provides all students an equal opportunity for success from cradle to career. Working on behalf of students, LEV has successfully led the charge on many of the landmark funding and policy decisions helping improve the education landscape in Washington. Among those issues, the League of Education Voters helped shape the debate over Initiative 1240 in 2012, allowing 40 charter schools to be established across Washington over a 5 year period.

I-1240 opened the door for charter schools, publicly funded schools independent of the state or county school system, to provide specialized access to K-12 students across the state. Charter schools are unique from typical public schools in a few respects.

Charter schools can develop their own curriculum, allowing teachers to quickly adjust their lesson plans to utilize current events as a teaching tool or to help struggling students. The teachers themselves are unique from the public school system; charter schools are allowed to choose their own faculty without the oversight of a school board or the restrictions of a union. Sandra remarked that the most notable difference for students in Washington’s charter schools is the ability for each school to establish its own standards for behavior.

“While visiting one of Spokane’s [charter] schools,” shared Jarrard, “the kids were eating lunch when the lights dimmed and Journey began playing over the speakers. The students packed up their lunch boxes and got up to go to class. This particular school decided that Don’t Stop Believing would be their school bell– the kids loved it!”

In 2013, the Washington State Supreme Court declared charter schools unconstitutional for a number of legal issues including funding sources and their nonprofit status. Schools with students already attending classes remain open despite their legal uncertainty. The legislative road for 2016 already has two senate bills addressing the issue, one from Senator Litzow, and one from Senator Billig.

If you wish to get involved with the League of Education Voters and make your voice heard, check out the LEV monthly events and sign their petition to keep Washington’s charter schools open.

Thank you to everyone that was able to attend. Please join us next month for OutSpokane’s special presentation on the 25th anniversary of Spokane PRIDE.

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