The Times has an article about the smackdown between Governor Gregoire and State Superintendent of Schools Randy Dorn. The issue is that the Governor is looking for more cuts and instead of prioritizing cuts, she's asked all state departments to submit cuts for taking 10% from their budgets. That would mean about $97M in nonbasic education cuts.
Dorn said no. He is refusing to submit any cuts, saying:
"I cannot, in good conscience, submit a budget ... that is consistent with (your) requirements," he wrote.
Now this is posturing because they largely protected K-12 last time around but now, cuts will be made. (He is also spending a bushel on Common Core standards which are less stringent than the Washington State standards. He could start there.)
And by not submitting a list of ideas to guide the Legislature — as all of the other agency directors have — Gregoire spokesman Cory Curtis says Dorn is making it harder for the state to make "the best decisions for the kids."
Various officials have weighed in:
School Board member Peter Maier, who is running for re-election this year. "The state needs to stop using cuts to K-12 education as an answer."
Glenn Bafia, the executive director of Seattle's teachers union, said further cuts would do "permanent harm to students."
But Marty McLaren, a former Seattle teacher now running for the School Board, dismissed the letter as "political posturing," although she said the state isn't adequately funding education.
Now the tussle with the Governor and Dorn isn't new:
But the two elected officials have clashed before. Most prominently, in January, when Dorn called the governor's plan to create a unified State Department of Education a "smoke screen." That plan, in which Dorn would have reported to the governor, never came to pass.
Of course, K-12 should be fully funded. Of course, the state hasn't been paying enough. BUT, there is less money. So what to do?
I would suggest that the Legislature make the cuts they think make sense. But they should pass something else that says that when the economy starts turning around, the first dollars go to education.