Washington State’s Supreme Court ruled that charter schools are unconstitutional.

“After nearly a year of deliberation, the state Supreme Court ruled 6-3 late Friday afternoon that charter schools are unconstitutional.

“The ruling overturns the law voters narrowly approved in 2012 allowing publicly funded, but privately operated, schools.

“Eight new charter schools are opening in Washington this fall in addition to one that opened in Seattle last year…

“Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote that charter schools aren’t “common schools” because they’re governed by appointed rather than elected boards.

“Therefore “money that is dedicated to common schools is unconstitutionally diverted to charter schools,” Madsen wrote.

“The ruling is a victory for the coalition that filed the suit in July 2013, asking a judge to declare the law unconstitutional for “improperly diverting public-school funds to private organizations that are not subject to local voter control.”

The Background:

The state held four referenda on charters. Voters rejected them three times–in 1996, 2000, and 2004–but in 2012, Bill Gates , Paul Allen, Alice Walton, the Bezos family, and a handful of other billionaires created a fund of more than $10 million (correction by reader: $17 million) to support another charter vote, called I-1240. The billionaires outspent the opposition in the election by 50:1. The measure barely passed by a margin of 1%. Stand for Children stood with the billionaires.

Opponents included:

“The League of Women Voters of Washington opposed the measure, as did the Washington Education Association and the Washington Association of School Administrators. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has been opposed to all charter schools since 2010, and, although the National Parent Teacher Association conditionally supports charter schools, the Washington State PTA opposed I-1240 for not meeting “criteria for local oversight.” A variety of Democratic organizations and officials opposed I-1240.”