Sunday, January 05, 2014

What the McCleary Decision was About

It will soon be the start of a new legislative session in Olympia, which, of course, means that the Legislature will take another run at doing the absolute minimum they can do and still claim to be making progress towards their obligation under the McCleary decision.

It also means that there will be a bunch of people - all of the usual suspects - claiming that the McCleary decision isn't just about money.

Let's stop that nonsense right now. The McCleary decision was about money, not reform. Anyone who tells you different is lying. They will claim that McCleary is as much about reform as it is about money. That's simply not true. McCleary is about reform like Moby Dick is about the second mate, Stubb. Yes, he's in there, but he's not central to the narrative. The book would be the same without him. Don't let anyone deceive you: McCleary is about money, not reform. Yes, there was some mention of reform in the decision, but it wasn't central to the decision and the decision would have been the same without it.

Anyone who tries to tell you that McCleary isn't about money is selling something. They are trying to use McCleary as an opening to force through all kinds of reforms, most of which will not improve anything in the classroom. We will see all kinds of silly reforms that have been proven ineffective if not damaging - like using student test scores as part of teacher evaluations, grading schools A-F, anything having to do with "teacher quality" as if it were quantifiable - put forward in the name of McCleary. It's all false.

So let's get clear and stay clear. The litigants of the McCleary decision sued the state for failing to fund public education - not for failing to reform it. They won because the legislature had failed in its duty to fund public education - not some duty to reform it. The Court and the constitution require the state to fund education - there is no constitutional requirement to reform it. The legislature, if they are going to comply with McCleary and the constitution must fund public education - they don't have to reform it. McCleary was entirely about funding and not at all about reform. Get clear about this and stay clear about this.

The McCleary decision was about money not reform.

If anyone tries to tell you different, then you get in their face and call them a liar. Right now, that's the Seattle Times and Rodney Tom.


Melissa Westbrook said...

So these are the two questions I have for Tom and the Times.

1) you say it isn't about money but HOW the money we have is spent. Okay (and again) - what would YOU cut to spend money your pet ideas? What are districts overspending on currently?

No one ever says what they would cut if there is no new revenue for these new ideas.

2) speaking of new ideas - charter school funding.

My reading of the charter school law is that charters are not "common schools" under our state constitution and are not eligible for education pot funding.

Yet, several legislators say they will be funded.

Again, if there is no new revenue, what state program will see cuts so that charters can open? (I suspect this is what will happen and some program is going to get a nasty surprise.)

Mary Griffin said...

For a great source on this case, you can't beat Network for Excellence in Washington Schools. If you haven't had the opportunity to hear the lead attorney, Tom Ahearne speak, you're missing out. Here is his powerpoint from last spring, which has some nice graphics.

Eric M said...

A good chunk, about a third, of last year's fake "downpayment" on McCleary came right from teachers. I think we can expect teachers to bear the brunt of further payments on McCleary. I would expect pensions to be gutted next.

From the WEA:

Nearly 63 percent of Washington voters approved the COLA for K-12 educators, technical college employees and community college faculty members. Yet the Legislature has suspended it every year since 2008.

In 2012, the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision ordered the state to fully fund K-12 education as mandated by the state constitution. Part of the decision reads, “…the state allocation for salaries and benefits fell far short of the actual cost of recruiting and retaining competent teachers, administrators, and staff.”

Since the McCleary decision, the state has not increased teacher salaries – and actually cut educators’ pay for two years.

Meanwhile, 8 billion dollars for Boeing.

No Hope said...

Good luck.

The legislature spent TWO days making a deal with BOEING and gave BOEING 8 billion in tax breaks. These breaks assure the 777x will be built in Wa. State, but 737 and 787 can still be moved out- of - state. So, that is 8B less for education, higher ed. etc. The amount of jobs that will be moved-out is questionable.

Rodney Tom tried to replace pensions with 401ks for workers. Tom's New Year wish came true when our elected officials refused to stand with BOEING Machinists. The Machinists were made to take the fall as to whether or not BOEING would stay. With a vote of 51% voted to replace their pensions with 401Ks. This action greatly diminished the strength of unions.

Then, we have a Spokane legislator trying to make Wa. a Right to Work State.

I suspect we'll see a separate funding stream created for charter schools; another stab at breaking unions would be welcomed. Yes, even though I 1240 is still in the courts.

Our politicians seem hell bent on destroying unions, Of course, our politicians will claim to be helpless; "The voters approved charter schools. Therefore, we must fund them."

Finally, I suspect we'll see dollars go into charter schools and the legislators will claim to fund public ed.

Anonymous said...

At the annual WEA meeting last ... April? I got to see Chris and Patty and if I wanted to wear red & be part of a photo op I could have seen Jay - all showing up to reward our WEA "leaders" for selling out us working stiffs so the "leaders" could be keep their seats at the table.

Patty said NOTHING about 30+ years of Democratic cowardice (well, except when they're complicit!!) in the face of the incessant lies about letting job destroyers steal more from the community because Grover Norquist says the destroyers will ... create jobs - instead of bubble after bubble.

Oh yeah - anyone notice Lessor of Two Evil Jay! and Lessor of Two Evil Patty! throw Boeing working stiffs under the buss with the latest Boeing extortion!

WOW! that was ... 'leadership'!!

So - there won't be money for McCleary because WE-THE-COWARDS keep re-electing sell outs and cowards!

Can we do a LITTLE math, people? Even if the worst flat earth droolers are elected in 2014 cuz we the know nobodies walk away from our beloved cowering sell outs, that just means in 2016 we'll have REAL champions of the bottom 80%+ to vote FOR!!! We need more than Kshama, Warren & Grayson if we're ever gonna get REAL revenue reform, hence REAL community investment reform - and we ain't gonna get 'em if we keep voting


Catherine said...

"The voters approved charter schools. Therefore, we must fund them."

My response is the voters approved cost of living adjustments and smaller class sizes several years ago, and the the legislature hasn't funded those.... so why is this more important?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Diaper, who are Patty and Chris?

Catherine, yes that would be a good point to make when they announce how these charters are to be funded.

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Not Hopeful said...

I suspect Diaper is talking about Patty Murray and Chris Gregoire.


In 2000, voters approved I 728. I 728 was intended to lower class and it never happened. The legislature suspended these dollars and they were used for other purposes. My point: We can't trust the legislature.

The Charter Commission continues to move forward with charter schools and there are folks watching to make sure it happens.

Again: We can't trust our legislators. There is an organization called NEWS. Various school districts fund this group and this group watches to make sure the legislature makes adequate payments to our K-12 system. During the last legislative period, NEWS reported that the legislature had made an inadequate down payment. Don't forget, education was funded by suspending COLA and TRANSFERRING dollars from capital to operations.

In Olympia, there is an appetite to weaken teacher unions and privatize our educational system. Charter schools were "voter approved". "Voter approved" charter schools provide a perfect excuse for moderate democrats (and there are plenty of them) to fund charter schools without ruining their political careers.

When will the Supreme Court hear I 1240? Not sure.

The Supreme Court has told the legislature it is their duty to fund education. McCleary decided allocations. Yet, this has NOT stopped the legislature from trying to fund "reforms" over McCleary mandates.

Charters aren't entitled to tax dollars, but the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee stated that many funding streams for education.

It took a Supreme Court order to force funding into our schools.

The recession resulted in severe cuts to education. McCleary is NOT expected to return all those dollars to our classrooms.

The Supreme Court has placed enough pressure on the legislature to fund education. I'm sure we'll see dollars going into education, but I highly suspect we'll see both charters and public ed. funded.

Anonymous said...

"Yes to Boeing...but NO to cost of living increases for Washington's teachers?! What is he thinking?!"

He is thinking that Seattle will vote for him don't cater to the bloc you cater to the swing voters


Anonymous said...

Cynical, Diaper & Erik M: I'm glad to finally see people pinning the responsibility tails on the sellout, corrupted donkeys we elect, time and again. While they put of a facade of FDR-like values, their votes are straight down the Hoover and McKinley lines, i.e., Big Money always Wins!

With the precedent set by Boeing, how long before Amazon blackmails Seattle like Twitter did San Francisco, and Microsoft does the same to Redmond?

Everytime we sell out values like Education, public health and welfare of the population over fears of losing jobs we're going to lose anyways, we dig ourselves deeper and deeper underground.

8 Billion to Boeing in the blink of an eye. 8 Billion to increase Boeing's power and leverage even further in the US Economy's Race to the Bottom. Giving in, time and again, simply increases the power and leverage of these anti-competitive behemoths do demand even more later on. 30+ years of this economic fallacy that business knows best, and like Nick Hanauer aptly asks: Where are all those jobs these "job creators" supposedly created?

Kids need educations; not job training for mythical futuristic jobs like programming games and building robots to deliver pizzas to us via drones.

Shoot me now, before I have to live through that.


Bill Pickard said...

Where is the money to come from? What can the Supreme Court do to force the Legislature to find an increasing percentage of the money each year, so that by 2018 the total being spent on basic education will have nearly doubled? This is a BIG problem, and just saying "Well, they need to do it!" Is not particularly helpful.

What programs will be cut? What revenues will be increased? What spending errors will not be made? The limitations on the budget and the more pressing needs of basic education (McCleary) higher education, transportation, healthcare, job creation, unemployment, social services, the dream Act, criminal justice, corrections, government agency employment, and others all rank higher than Parks.

The State Parks budget is down to a fraction of what it once was. NO ONE likes this solution, but what is the Legislature to do?