YOU HAD ONE JOB: With fewer than 20 days left in their short legislative session, a nearly paralyzed state House and Senate in Olympia passed watered-down education funding plans on razor-thin margins divided along extremely partisan lines hours before a cutoff deadline that would have stalled the bills in their houses of origin.That's a damn fine summary. But wait, there's more.
SB 6195 passed the senate by a vote of 26-23. The bill was modeled after House Bill 2633, which passed that chamber in January on a vote 64-34. The bills were reconciled, and approved by a second vote of the House last week, 66-31. They move on to the governor’s desk for signature.
Critics called the final product “a plan to make a plan.”
The reconciled bills are toothless, and do little more than continue to study a problem the dimensions of which are well understood. They kick the can of McCleary down the road to 2017 and are likely insufficient to end the Supreme Court sanction.
I have been recording here the number of newspapers of record who have written editorials of disappointment - among them, the Seattle Times and now the Tri-City Herald.
Referring to OSPI, the Tri-City Herald gave us this handy list:
His office recently released a list of past studies on education funding that already have been conducted. Here is a list of the years and the groups that produced them:As of today, there are also articles in Cascadia Weekly, and the South Whidbey Record.
▪ Early 2000s: The bipartisan Fromhold/Cox committee
▪ 2006: Washington Learns
▪ 2007: The Joint Task Force on Basic Education Finance
▪ 2009: The Quality Education Council
▪ 2011: Compensation Technical Working Group
▪ 2012: The Joint Task Force on Education Funding
But apparently none of these are considered relevant now.
From the Tri-City Herald:On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee said, “We all know the heavy lifting that will need to be done in the session of 2017 is now set up to be done.”
State Budget Director David Schumacher even said early in the session that nobody expected lawmakers to meet the requirements of the McCleary decision until 2017 because the court set a 2018 deadline.From Senate Dem leader Sharon Nelson about the Senate Republican budget:
Nothing like calling it close. That seems to be the way our Legislature operates, however.
“Most inexplicable, however, is the damage it does to K-12 education.From Washington's Paramount Duty:
“The Senate Republican budget contains a hidden $53 million cut to K-3 class sizes. It ignores the $19 million fine owed for failing to produce an education funding plan. It falls far short of addressing the state’s teacher shortage crisis and does nothing to invest in attracting and retaining quality teachers.
“The House budget invests $99 million in K-12 education. This despite the misleading, manufactured hogwash you hear from Senate Republicans about a mythical cut.
“The Senate Republican budget doesn’t even kick the can down the road – it misses it entirely.”
"The largest single investment in this K-12 budget is for charter schools." said in OSPI's testimony on the Senate's supplemental budget bill at today's State Senate Ways & Means Committee hearing."Do you know how much time that Senator Jamie Pedersen believes was spent in the Senate considering SB 6195? One hour. He also stated that they had spent almost seven hours on transgendered bathrooms. (To note, neither he nor I am saying that issue isn't important but you'd think that it would not have turned into the obsession it seems to have. ) As well, I would count the number of hours on charter schools in the House and Senate probably at 8+ hours.
Speaking of charter spending, it appears the Senate Republican supplemental adds more money than before for the Charter Commission.
As for charter schools, well, tomorrow is a big day - the House Ed committee will likely take a vote on whether to refer the main charter bill (6194) out. They are apparently doing this in Executive Session.
(The Washington Policy Center seems worried the lesser charter bill will get the vote - that's the one where school districts are authrorizers and the money still comes from the Opportunity Fund. As well, there could be amendments to 6194 like just funding the eight schools.)
Do I think it will make it out of committee? Probably.
Last week I went and testified to the House Ed committee on the bill. Committee chair, Sharon Tomiko Santos, stressed to the crowd that even though it was a personal and emotional issue to some that the Committee was interested in policy questions and wanted to hear about those. Naturally, charter supporters mostly ignored that. But the Committee could not have missed the number of people who had concerns about the constitutionality of the bill. I believe many legislators are worried about passage of legislation that would only land us all back in court.
However, I don't think it will get a Floor vote nor do I think that the Governor would sign it.
I want to note how distasteful I believe it is for legislators to be at a public hearing where citizens have taken the time to come to them and some legislators show their support by wearing t-shirts (or, in this case, bright yellow scarves.) I believe the legislators should at least make it look like they are listening to citizens impartially and appreciate the input.
Rep. Gerry Pollet asked staff an interesting question about the current bill. He asked what would happen to state dollars that a charter might have if that charter decided to pull the plug. Staff said, "the bill is silent on that." Well, great. Nothing like a law that allows an entity to bug out AND take state dollars.
It was also stated by staff that, except for teachers and governance, there is nothing in current statutory law that would prevent any school district to practice some of the "innovative" items that charter schools can.
What was pretty funny is that one legislator had bad things to say about the previous initiative. Rep. Chad Magendanz said that they had to "clean up the original law" and it "hadn't gone thru our coders." He went on and said that most of the authors of the original initiative "were not constitutional scholars." Wait, what? This was called "the best charter law in the country" and Bill "the billionaire" Gates paid for the campaign. He had no access to "constitutional scholars?" Hmm.
Lastly, from Washington's Paramount Duty:
Chief Justice Barbara Madsen gave an interview to KUOW about McCleary, the contempt of court sanction, and the Supreme Court's retained jurisdiction. Austin Jenkin is interviewing her on TVW's Inside Olympia on Thursday, February 25, at 7:00 pm. http://www.tvw.org
“While you may say the legislature budgets, of course they budget, but we’re talking about a lawsuit here, a lawsuit in which one party prevailed,” Madsen said.Can't wait to hear the entire interview.