This year, approximately 14,000 students will drop out of Washington schools. That's stark evidence of the need to try something different, argued Tim Ceis, a proponent of Initiative 1240.
The measure on the Nov. 6 ballot would allow for up to 40 public charter schools over five years.
But Catherine Ahl, an opponent of the measure, worries that charter schools will siphon money away from existing schools.
Ceis, the former deputy Seattle mayor, and Ahl, education chair of the League of Women Voters of Washington, made their cases for and against I-1240 on TVW's "Inside Olympia."
The debate, which was civil and informative, kept returning to the central issue of cost versus the urgent need to stem the flow of dropouts.
Ceis makes his opening argument:
Ahl raises the money concern:
Later, Ceis answers that concern by noting that one size does not fit all, and that it doesn't make sense to ban charter schools simply because they won't serve 100 percent of students. "We just can't keep telling 14,000 kids a year, 'Sorry, you have to wait. We're going to get it right one of these days.'"
Ceis responds by noting that money has always been an issue for schools, and its scarcity should not be a reason to avoid trying something new. Charter schools, he adds, will not be a drain on schools anymore than existing alternative schools or innovation schools are a drain, because state funding "follows the student."
Check out the full exchange below: