Wayne Au, an education professor and plaintiff in League of Women Voters v. State (the case that found charter schools unconstitutional in Washington) claims charter schools aren’t public schools.
Au’s actually conflating the word “public school” with the concept of the “common school,” a 19th-century form of public-education that doesn’t apply to all 21st-century public schools.
Au concludes: “If a school is not controlled by a public body, then it should not have access to public funds.” First, the elected school board of Spokane, WA approved a charter school, and that was overturned by the Supreme Court too — an inconvenient fact neither Au nor the state Supreme Court has bothered to address.
Second, not every public education institution is subject to direct, democratic control. Even the University of Washington, which employs Au, is governed by unelected appointees, yet is financed in part by the same public funds charter schools are now prohibited from touching.
“Public schools” have been defined by how they’re financed (public support through taxation) and the purpose they serve (educating the public) — not the specific method of governance. Yes, charter schools are public schools.