How do you support an organization’s growth, pass emergency legislation that saves 10 charter schools, and keep families and advocates engaged over a multi-year campaign despite stiff opposition?
When a shocking Supreme Court Ruling found Washington State’s charter public schools unconstitutional a mere weeks after the first schools opened their doors in 2015, RALLY was called on to develop and manage a legislative advocacy campaign that forced legislators, especially Democrats, to choose between being held responsible for closing racially and economically diverse public schools or standing up for public school students and families. And the campaign had to have legs. Advocates knew that the issue would come back again in the form of another Supreme Court challenge and the framework would have to continue to resonate.
State legislators couldn’t ignore the hundreds of diverse Washington families who would have been devastated by the loss of their high-quality public schools. The well-designed, well-executed, multi-faceted campaign put parents, students, and advocates directly in front of legislators, coupling grassroots activity with with an aggressive paid advertising campaign that included direct mail, television, and a statewide digital strategy. As the issue moved from passing a law to supporting it through the lower and highest courts, RALLY built a narrative around the students and families who first stood up to fight for their schools, creating a three- year litigation communications strategy that put kids at the center.
Washington’s public charter school families won – again and again. In the fall of 2018, the state Supreme Court upheld the states’ strong new charter law, ending an odyssey that began with passing a new law and saw families call on Washington leaders over and over to stand up for their kids.
First, in 2016, the new law was passed. Bucking more than a decade of precedent, the Democratic Speaker of Washington’s House allowed for a vote on the bill to save Washington’s public charter schools, despite not having his party’s majority support, as a direct result of the powerful campaign. In 2017, the same families, now joined by new members fo the charter community saw their new law supported in the lower courts. Undeterred, opponents pushed for a Supreme Court hearing. In 2018, more then 2600 families and students rallied in Olympia, ultimately leading to 6-3 ruling in favor of the schools, and, preserving public education that focuses on equity and opportunity for all choice as an education lifeline for all communities around the state.