Wash. Charter School Backers Check In With Plenty Of Signatures

Jul 9, 2012

Supporters of creating charter schools in Washington say they have more than enough signatures to get their initiative on the ballot. They turned in their petitions Friday.

Backers had just three weeks to gather almost 250,000 signatures. The pro-charter coalition says it got them … with about 100,000 to spare.

Shannon Campion is executive director of Washington Stand for Children, one of the main forces pushing the ballot measure.

"So we knew it would be very tight," Campion says. "But we just really you know hunkered down and did what it took to gather this many signatures."

What it took, in this case, included significant spending on paid signature gatherers. The Washington Coalition for Public Charter Schools has raised more than $2 million from 10 large donors, including a million from Bill Gates.

Critics say that shows the initiative doesn’t have the broad-based support its backers claim.

Charter schools would be free to hire non-union teachers, and shrug off other requirements that govern most public schools. Washington voters have rejected measures to allow charter schools three times.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network