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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Seattle Joining Other Districts in Suing State

I heard this on KOMO-tv and it apparently came off the AP wire; Seattle is joining 29 other districts including Kent, Spokane, and Federal Way to sue the state to demand they pay the full cost of education. The trial starts tomorrow and is supposed to run for 6 weeks.

From the AP story:

"Attorneys for both sides say the economy will have little or no influence on the outcome of the non-jury trail, scheduled to begin on the first day of the school year for many district and to continue for six weeks of testimony in King County Superior Court before Judge John Erlick.

Senior Assistant Attorney General David Stolier said both sides will be arguing its interpretation of a state Supreme Court ruling from more than 30 years ago in Seattle School District v. State that said Washington state must fully pay for its definition of basic education.

"In some ways this case is a continuation," Stolier said."

Apparently, 45 out of the 50 states have sued their state governments over their methods for paying for education.

What are the issues?

Among the issues in play:

- Is the state funding the definition of basic education it came up with in the 1970s?

- Has there been a de facto expansion of the definition that was never set down in law?

- Do the courts have any place wading into the specifics of education funding, or is this area strictly for the Legislature?

The 2009 state Legislature passed a bill aiming to reform the way the state distributes education dollars, but did not actually implement the reforms. Instead, it has formed several task forces to decide how to take the next step.

Here was an interesting paragraph that is pertinent to several discussions here:

"State and federal dollars pay most, but not all the cost to educate Washington's students. The rest of the money comes from local tax levies, donations and PTA fundraisers. Meanwhile, the Washington Constitution makes education the state's highest priority."

PTA fundraising money is counted as part of how we pay for basic education? I certainly thought we might just be getting to this point but this article seems to say it already is included.

There is no announcement of this action at the SPS website.

2 comments:

SP said...

I saw this information last week on the SEA website, with a link to NEWS- Network for Excellence in Washington Schools:
http://www.waschoolexcellence.org/

They will be giving daily updates to the lawsuit starting today.

From their website:
About Us
Led by organizations like the Washington State PTA, the League of Women Voters, the Seattle Urban League, large and small school districts across our state and a broad base of other civic and education organizations, NEWS was formed when it became clear that action was needed to force the state to make good on its promise to each and every child in Washington.


Plagued with a long-outdated state funding system that fails to fully fund even the basic elements of a high quality 21st century education, NEWS has been forced to filed a lawsuit asking the courts to order the State of Washington to live up to its paramount constitutional duty to make ample provision for the education of all Washington children.

See a list of our 70+ member organizations.

SP said...

"NEWS" website (con't)

I would encourage all Seattle PTSA's to consider becoming members of this group, giving a broader support to this cause, of fully funding our K-12 public schools.

The WA State PTA is a member, but I do not see the Seattle Council PTA listed.

from their website:
Become a "Friend of NEWS". Individuals, families, local or statewide service clubs or nonprofit organizations, school PTSAs - all are welcome to apply to become a "Friend of NEWS." You will add your name and support to the cause of ensuring that the State performs its paramount duty and amply funds K-12 schools. Learn more about how to become a Friend of NEWS.

Join our email list to get regular updates on our progress toward a better future for our children. Just enter your email address in the Join Our Email List box on the left side of this page and click Go.

Find out about funding issues in your own local district. What impact are funding cuts having in your child’s school? Then, share them with us!

Attend School Board meetings, superintendent’s forums, PTSA meetings and other school venues and bring up the issue of school funding. Ask specific questions about the impact and what you and others can do to change.

Contact your legislators and let them know that you support full funding of Washington schools as mandated by our State Constitution.