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Getting Schooled 

A town hall, a plane crash and a charter school commission

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On The Inside

Having eked out an initiative victory for Charter Schools, Washington state has begun the slow process of implementation. Last week, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Lt. Gov. Brad Owen and House Speaker Frank Chopp announced their appointments for the new Charter School Commission. In most cases, anyone who wants to form a charter school has to go through the commission first.

The list includes First Night co-founder Chris Martin of Spokane, former Seattle School Board member Steve Sundquist, United Way of Grays Harbor director Doreen Cato, and former state Democratic Rep. Dave Quall of Mount Vernon.

But one appointee — Kevin Jacka, the superintendent of the Mary Walker School District in Stevens County — has already raised some eyebrows of conservative critics. Jacka had previously signed a petition opposing the charter initiative.

The initiative text actually bars people opposed to charter schools from being appointed and requires all members to “have demonstrated an understanding of and commitment to charter schooling.”

“I am concerned about any commissions stacked with opponents. One person can impose their will on the rest if they’re strong-willed enough,” says Liv Finne, with the conservative Washington Policy Center. “That raises big red flags.” Finne says she’s read about other charter systems failing because of a lack of internal support in the agencies that approve them.

Owen, who appointed Jacka, says he didn’t know about the petition signature.

“I don’t think it’s fair to criticize him about his commitment to education,” Owen says. “In my conversations with him, I was convinced he would work hard on it. I think he has a lot to offer.”

Jacka could not be reached as of press time.

— DANIEL WALTERS

Air Your Grievances

A few local lawmakers are making their way back from Olympia to hear just how pissed (or pleased) you are with them this weekend. Spokane Sen. Andy Billig and Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli will hold two Town Hall Meetings Saturday. They’ll be at Shadle Park High School from 10 am to noon and Emmanuel Family Life Center from 2 to 4 pm to take your questions and feedback about this year’s legislative session.

— HEIDI GROOVER

Deadly Jet Crash

A U.S. Navy aircrew of three died Monday when their EA-6B Prowler twin-engine jet crashed into a remote wheat field about 50 miles southwest of Spokane during a training flight. No injuries on the ground were reported.

Photos from the scene show a jagged crater surrounded by scattered debris. Navy officials did not immediately identify any members of the crew.

The Navy reports the crew was assigned to the Electronic Attack Squadron 129 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Western Washington. Military officials have launched a safety investigation into the crash.

News archives indicate a Prowler jet from the Whidbey Island base previously crashed near Pendelton, Ore., in 2006. The Navy has worked in recent years to replace the Prowler with the newer EA-18G Growler jet.

— JACOB JONES

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