State Supreme Court weighs validity of charter school law

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OLYMPIA, Wash. — Hundreds of charter school students rallied at the state Capitol as the Washington Supreme Court heard arguments that could threaten to close their classrooms.

Jalen Johnson, an 11th-grader at Summit Sierra charter school in Seattle, told the crowd that the commitment of his teachers helped turn him from an average middle-school student to thriving high-school junior — and that “this is how every school should be.”

Teachers unions and other groups have sued over the 2016 charter school law, which was enacted after the justices struck down a voter-approved charter school law. The lawsuit argues that using public money to operate alternative, nonprofit charter schools over which voters have no control is forbidden by the state Constitution and diverts money from already underfunded public schools.

Charter school advocates and attorneys for Washington state argue that the state’s new law does satisfy the Constitution and that the charter school opponents are trying to undo the will of the voters.

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