State Representative Eric Pettigrew is just thrilled to welcome Washington State's first charter school:

As a long-time supporter of charter schools, I was honored to learn that the Washington’s first charter school, based on First Place School, currently a no-tuition private school in Seattle’s Central District, will make its transition to a public school in the 37th legislative district!

Our regular public schools provide many children with a great education. But the system is not built to accommodate the unique needs of every student. Charter schools can provide students with the support, individualized attention and flexibility they need to allow them to focus on their education.

First Place School is a great example of this. It focuses on children who come from families plagued by extreme poverty and high mobility. Without the stability of a safe home, transportation, food and basic necessities, they need and extra hand up to succeed.

Um, okay. Sounds like a worthy mission and all that. But as an existing not-for-profit, First Place School has already been providing tuition-free schooling to some of Seattle's neediest children for 25 years. So rather than fostering new and innovative approaches toward education, all we've really done is change the funding mechanism of an existing program from private funders to state and local taxpayers. So what, exactly, have we gained?