WA Charters Newsletter

New Poll Shows R-55 Leading 53-36 with Five Weeks to Go!

Monday Morning, September 27, 2004

Dear Friends,

Good news!  A poll commissioned by the Associated Press (and four large newspapers) was released this morning showing a 17 point lead for the charter school referendum (53% to 36%), with 11% undecided.

An article about the results is below, FYI.

Charter school supporters are encouraging voters to "APPROVE R-55 to improve public schools" while charter school opponents urge voters to "REJECT R-55 to protect public schools."  For more information, visit the pro & con campaign web sites at:

www.approveR55.org     &   www.rejectR55.org

With just five weeks to go until the election, the new poll should encourage R-55 supporters to keep working hard on sharing the benefits of charter public schools with their family, friends and neighbors.

THANK YOU for everything you're doing to share how you feel about charter public schools with the people you know!


Jim Spady, President & Executive Director
Washington Charter School Resource Center (WCSRC)
4426 - 2nd Avenue NE
Seattle, WA 98105-6191
Jim's office phone: 206/634-0589
Jim's cell phone: 206/949-8484
Jim's e-mail address: JimSpady@WAcharterschools.org
Jim & Fawn's home phone: 206/275-2089
Web page: www.WAcharterschools.org

The Vancouver Columbian, Monday, September 27, 2004

Charter Schools, Sales Tax Hike [Measures] Lead Narrowly

By AMY McFALL PRINCE, Columbian Staff Writer

Washington voters narrowly support both a ballot measure establishing charter schools and increasing the state sales tax by 1 cent to pay for public education, according to a poll conducted for The Columbian.

"I think that people have the right to a choice," said Everett resident Connie Gronning on the establishment of charter schools. "I don't think the education system in our state has really fulfilled its obligation."

With five weeks left before election day, voters polled were more divided on the sales tax increase with 52 percent supporting and 47 percent opposing. The remaining 1 percent were undecided.

More people polled supported the establishment of charter schools with 53 percent. However, 11 percent were undecided on the issue.

If approved, the charter school measure would allow local school districts and educational service districts to sponsor the establishment of the schools. The schools would operate on five-year contracts and be governed by a selected board of directors. The schools would receive public funding.

Some people polled said they liked the idea of charter schools but wanted more information.

Vern Schager of Bainbridge Island said he wasn't sure he would support the charter school measure. "I somewhat oppose the charter schools, and some of it has to do with unfamiliarity."<

Schager said public schools need enough help that he's not sure the state should shift focus to charter schools. That is one reason he supports the 1 cent sales tax increase to fund education.

"I feel like it's better to fix the public schools that you already have established," he said. "I'm always looking for a more stable funding issue."

Seattle resident Marilyn Watkins said she strongly supports the increased sales tax and is especially interested in the money it would provide for early childhood education and higher education.

"I have two kids who've gone through the public schools, and I've seen that there's a huge disparity how kids enter kindergarten. It is pretty obvious that some kids will succeed and some won't," she said.

Watkins believes charter schools would take money away from other public schools, and she noted that most Washington districts have alternative or magnet schools set up, already giving school choice to families.

The charter school measure has been rejected by Washington voters twice. Washington is one of a few states that do not have charter schools.

Jim Davis of Burien said he likes the idea of charter schools, but he wanted to know more about them.

"I think it's a good possibility," the 58-year-old said. "Maybe a little competition would liven things up."

Gronning, 59, of Everett, said the state's current education system needs to be fixed, and charter schools may be a good solution.

"Every child has the right to an education. I have a problem when teachers spend most of their time with unruly children," she said. "With a charter school, my hope is that the people who are interested in charter schools are interested in public schools."

Gronning said she is not sure she could support the increased sales tax.

She said too much of the public's taxes are already going to help pay for low-income students to enter college, and at the same time, it is becoming more difficult for middle- and upper-class families to get their children into state universities.

"Why waste our tax dollars on people who aren't going to use them," she said. "With sales tax, the middle class seems to pay a ton more. We buy more because we work hard."

Davis said he does not support the sales tax increase either, and he believes school spending should be scrutinized more.

"I think the school system has got plenty of money; they're just not spending it properly," he said. "They're spending almost $8,000 a student now, and they're still not getting it done."

The majority of people polled who supported increasing the sales tax have attended or graduated from college.

The same was true for the establishment of charter schools.

Pollsters interviewed 406 registered voters by phone from Sept. 17-20. The margin of error is plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Amy McFall Prince can be reached at 360-759-8019, or at amy.prince@columbian.com.

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