I mean you'd have to be blind not to see that the conservatives in this state don't want to have to find the money. I think they purposefully have dragged this out so that they can make it as hard as possible for the liberals to get this done. In other words, make it a bloody fight where everyone gets a little something but, in the end, there will be those who lose.
The question is - who loses? Business and their tax breaks? (Boeing just disclosed they received $300M in tax breaks.) Social services? (With homelessness on the rise?) Will the Legislature finally pass an income tax? (I am saying that in a serious tone; it needs to be revisited.) Or, will the legislature "fulfill" McCleary but put strings on that money?
I was moved to bring this up again from a couple of items I came across recently. Listening to NPR this morning, there was a story on Kansas and their litigation over school funding.
It was noted that there are 13 states with legal cases over school funding. But nowhere is it more on the line than in Kansas. One lawyer has been involved in litigation on this issue since 1989. Hearing this story, I think most in Washington state would get a serious case of deja vu.
There, the state Supreme Court will hear arguments on the latest funding case within the next week. If justices don't approve of the legislators' fix to the system, the court could shut down public schools on June 30.Via Twitter, I learned there is yet another ed reform group on the radar. It's called PIE Network (Policy Innovators in Education.)
And, of course, who's funding it? Gates, Broad, New Venture, Walton - you know, the usual suspects.
Who are the "members" from Washington State? League of Education Voters (check), Stand for Children (check) and Partnership for Learning (check - they're a business ed reform group.)
PIE has a blog and there is a thread about the NPR coverage of education funding in the U.S. The PIE blog reported that LEV says this about Washington State:
The League of Education Voters’ (LEV) Policy Team writes “the State of Washington has made progress in equitable funding in recent years.” Sparked by the 2012 McCleary Supreme Court decision, Washington has spent $3.2 billion in new investments for basic education over the last two budget cycles. The work is not over, however. The legislature is fined $100,000 per day by the Supreme Court until they fully fund public education. In response to this, the legislature created a task force to determine how to end the state’s over-reliance on local levies to pay teacher salaries and other components of basic education.Is $3.2M a big number to throw out there? Of course it is BUT apparently LEV forgot that there was a big recession just a few years back. From what I know, most of the districts in this state - if not all - had to make deep cuts. So some of that "new investment" is really backfilling from the cuts.
And LEV says this at their own blog:
Washington still has substantial progress to make in fully funding basic education, but it has made significant strides in recent years that are not reflected in the per-student funding ranking of states in the NPR article. It is important to both acknowledge the progress Washington has made in funding education and continue to strongly advocate for equitable and ample education funding.You could read that paragraph as careful kindness to legislators, an encouragement perhaps. They seem unhappy that the "significant strides" didn't make it into the NPR story.
But I don't read any urgency in that paragraph. That's hard to understand.