Opposition and legal challenges don’t deter Washington’s new charter-school leader

Claudia Rowe:

A longtime advocate for public education has taken the reins of the state’s charter-school association, weathering vigorous opposition and bitter legal challenges — all in his first seven months on the job.

After a long career advocating for traditional public education, Patrick D’Amelio recently stepped up to lead the Washington State Charter Schools Association, which aims to spread the word about this locally untested model.

Charters are public schools funded with state dollars but operated here by private nonprofits, and the longest-running in Washington has been open only since 2015.

D’Amelio’s association bills itself as dedicated to “systemically underserved students.” But nationally, charters have a spotty record on that score.

Education Lab caught up with D’Amelio over the holiday break to ask why things would be any different here, and who’s enrolling their children in charters, despite continuing challenges to their legality and the fact that Seattle’s school board vigorously opposes their presence.