Running Start is a program in Washington that allows high school juniors and seniors the option to take courses at the local community college. Through Running Start, students are able to receive both high school and college credit for their classes and ultimately complete higher education sooner. Students are able to obtain an associate’s degree along with their high school diploma through the Running Start program.
The program is typically offered in public schools and government-funded institutions. Charter schools, which are government-funded institutions that operate independently of the public school system, are now being reconsidered and are receiving opposition from many officials in the public education system.
On Sept. 4, the State Supreme Court deemed in a 6-3 ruling that charter schools are unconstitutional because of its use of public funds without being subject to the control of local voters. This ruling, on the other hand, was thought to affect the Running Start program as well since it is similar to charter schools, being publicly funded but privately run.
The Seattle Times quoted Justice Mary Fairhurst as saying, “Indeed, programs, such as Running Start that are not under the control of the local voters and are thus not common schools, receive support through the $7.095 billion appropriation for public education.”
Bellevue College’s Director of High School Initiatives Glenn Jackson believes that this ruling will not have an effect on the Running Start program.
“As far as I’m concerned I know there was an article written saying that Running Start would be at risk from charter schools and I don’t understand how people will interpret that,” said Jackson, “why would they think that the Running Start program would be in jeopardy if a charter school were to come on board?”
“Running Start issues college credit while charter schools do not,” explained Jackson, “If charter schools would join, they would be treated just like private school.”
Nonetheless, with Running Start being an established program since 1990, trying to repeal the public funding for the program might be difficult.
Nicole Wen, a current senior in Running Start, faced a dilemma of choosing either the Running Start program or remaining at Big Picture High School.
“It was really hard to decide between either doing Running Start or stay at Big Picture High School because I was not allowed to do full time Running Start, Big Picture did not have that option at the time,” explained Wen, “with alternative schools, they usually have something unique to offer but at the same time Running Start is so beneficial for college readiness.”
As far as how the ruling of the charter schools is impacting the program, Jackson noted that, “Running Start is under a Washington state law, it’s under a WAC and also a RCW. I think they misreported that Bellevue College’s Running start is not privately funded.
“We reimburse through Washington state,” said Jackson. Therefore, Bellevue College’s Running Start also comes from government funding.
“[The programs] create pathways. What’s good for that individual over there will not be good for the other individual over here,” Jackson concluded.