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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Judge Rules that State is NOT Meeting Basic Education Needs

(Update: Couldn't find a direct link to the actual ruling. Here's a link to the KOMO story with a link at the bottom of the story.)

In what is sure to be a huge story (and possible battle royale with the Governor and the state versus the school districts), the Times reports that King County judge John Erlick has ruled that the state is not "providing ample funding for public schools." The judge expressed that he had no doubt this was the case.

From the article:

"He ordered the state Legislature to establish the actual cost of funding an ample education, and then to fund it with stable and dependable sources.

One question mark is the timeline determining the cost and how to pay for it.

Attorneys for both sides said they would have to first read the full decision to see if the judge set a deadline. If the judge decided on 2018, the year that the Legislature has said it planned to increase education spending by an estimated $1 billion a year, the state would be fine with that, said Bill Clark, the assistant attorney general who argued the case.

But the plaintiffs said they think and hope the judge wants state lawmakers to act faster than that."

It is interesting that while Washington State has one of the most explicit directions in its state constitution on education of almost any state in the union, we also are at about 42nd in funding. I have always believed this but I did see this chart from 2004-3005 and it makes me wonder.

From the article:

The state's attorneys argued that the state is living up to its constitutional duty and that it's up to the Legislature, not the courts, to determine what's ample when it comes to education.

They also have said the suit is moot because state lawmakers agreed last year to expand state support for public schools, and made that pledge to add more than $1 billion to the state education budget by 2018."

What is certainly a good question is what happened to the money the schools was supposed to get from the lottery? And we now have a PowerBall lottery? What about that money?

11 comments:

mom of 3 said...

I believe the 42nd ranking is based on the amount adjusted for the cost of living. So some states may spend less, but salaries are also less. I know when we lived in Kansas a starting teacher made about $25,000 a year. Not possible here.

seattle citizen said...

Ah, the lottery...talk about a bait and switch. When the lottery was voted into practice in...1981? citizens were told that, while it WAS gambling, the benefits to students would outweigh the moral question of state-sponsored gambling.
But soon thereafter, it seems, the lottery "profits" were slowly and incrementally redirected away from education: "It goes into the general budget, and of course we take it back out again to pay for education!" we hear.
What a rip-off, and ethically challenged, to boot: Gambling? Okay. Stealing the house's cut (winnings) from children? Okay.
Great job, Washington.

Central Mom said...

Here's one of many EXCELLENT paragraphs from the judge's opinion. (It is a complete smackdown to State Legislature and even has a nod to Melissa's Maintenance issue efforts.)

"This court recognizes the social science debate over the correlation between
classroom size, teacher/student ratio, and the condition of physical facilities, on the one hand,
and student achievement, on the other. The fact is that Washington students are underperforming
and failing to achieve in large numbers. It is incumbent upon the State to determine what
educational resources are necessary and how to provide those resources to ensure that all
children resident in the State of Washington have the opportunity to acquire the basic knowledge
and skills included within the substantive “education” mandated by Article IX, §1. Moreover,
resources and efforts expended by school administrators, teachers, and parents in getting levies
passed for maintenance, operations, capital and other projects could otherwise be spent on the
learning and education process..."

mkd said...

I wonder how much Seattle Public Schools spends on lawyers . . .

spedvocate said...

Yabut.... 2018 is a long time to wait.

Unknown said...

I don't think the starting salary is that much different here. Does anyone know definitely? My child's fist grade teacher said she was making 23,000 as a first year teacher. Now this was 8 years ago, but I don't remember reading about big salary increases for teachers.

Charlie Mas said...

Here is a link to the judge's ruling.

Charlie Mas said...

I used to have a friend who didn't pay his bills. He used to laugh when people sued him because it meant that he would have all of that time until the case was actually tried. Then, after the case was tried and he lost, they had a judgement. So what? How were they going to enforce it?

The Court can't reach into some state vault and walk the cash out on a dolly.

Without holding the state legislators personally liable for the money, the judge isn't going to get them to act.

As for the question about WHEN they need to comply with the law - it is an absurd question. If I were caught and convicted of roaming about setting fires would the Court give me eight years to steadily reduce the number of arsons to zero or would they expect me to comply with the law immediately?

wseadawg said...

Charlie: It may take awhile. But the ruling lends credence and legitimacy to the argument that we shouldn't be judging our teachers, principals and schools as "failures," which so many members of the public do, daily, when we chronically and constantly handicap them and make them fight the good fight with one hand tied behind their back.

We should be ashamed at how little we spend on education in this state, given how much we depend on "smart jobs" and such.

spedvocate said...

Not true that judges can't reach into the vault. They did exactly that in Texas with the so-called "Robin-Hood" ruling. In Texas, both state income tax AND state property tax are forbidden by the state's consitution. Well gee, how are you going to pay for education in some poor counties with no access to any state taxes? The judge implemented the very unpopular Robin-Hood plan where rich counties (like Plano) had to fund schools in poorer counties with Plano's local property levies. It absolutely is possible to get schools funded by court order.

Unknown said...

Washington State Schools & Universities Can Save Money By Contracting Out Food Services

A new report says that Washington State public schools & universities can save significant amounts of funding by partnering with professional services firms to handle or manage food or dining services

Seattle, Wash. – A new report from the Washington State Education Funding Coalition indicates that Washington State public schools and universities can save anywhere from 20%-40% by having professional on-site services companies handle or manage their dining or food services.

With the State of Washington projecting a $2.6 billion budget deficit in 2010 (following a $8 billion budget deficit in 2009), the funding that the State of Washington provides to its public schools and public universities will continue to decrease. The rapidly declining state financial support for schools and universities is putting an increasing amount of pressure on Washington State public schools and higher education institutions to find ways to reduce costs to make up for the declining direct state support. Consequently, many school districts and colleges have announced layoffs of teachers and/or instructional staff to help impact actual or anticipated budget deficits.

While these challenges are real, there are also some promising opportunities to create new business solutions to help address them.

As a result, the report from the Washington State Education Funding Coalition recommends that public schools and universities in Washington State strongly consider utilizing professional on-site services firms to handle or manage non-instructional services (such as dining and food services) because it will allow schools “to focus both their funding and their expertise on their most important task: providing their students with a strong education, while leaving their supporting services to professional companies to handle.”

The Washington State Education Funding Coalition’s report cites several examples of how public school districts and universities in the U.S. have already benefitted from working with professional on-site services firms. For example, a public university partnered with a professional on‐site services company to provide purchasing and culinary standards support to their dining program and, with just 20% of their current purchasing analyzed, they were able to save more than 14% in purchasing cost in year one. In another situation, a public school district partnered with a professional on‐site services company to provide school lunches and through active marketing and parent engagement, they were able to generate a 15% increase in school lunch revenue.

For a synopsis of the report, please go to the following link (http://www.mediafire.com/?23jzdjz1im3).