Washington Education News Roundup

To repeat, Senator Rodney Tom, noted turncoat for the Dems, is not going to run again after all (citing health concerns for himself and his elderly father).  The Times ran a blathering editorial about how great he was but you really can't take them seriously when they start with, "But this time you might wonder, what will become of the Legislature without him?"

Seriously?  Not, "how will the Legislature operate like without him?" but "what will become of it?"  Well, like most of life, the Legislature will carry on just fine without him.  He isolated himself with his choices and I think he realized it was going to backfire on him in the election. 

The Washington State Charter School Commission released its 2014 request for proposals yesterday.  According to their press release, last year they received 19 completed proposals.  I'll be interested to see how many letters of intent (which was about 25ish last year) that they receive. 

To understand, they will fill eight spots for Fall 2015. That means that in addition to the applications approved in 2014 for schools opening in 2015 (that would be seven), another eight can be approved for schools to open in 2015.  As they state, "Spots not filled one year are carried to subsequent years."  

The 2014 RFP release initiates a six month process, concluding October 9 with the Commission’s decision to authorize charter school applicants. Along the way, applicants will submit a Notice of Intent to Apply by June 13, followed by a full proposal due July 15. From there, applicants will engage in in‐ person interviews in late August, 2014. The final step are public forums held in the first three weeks of September, allowing applicants to address the community their school is designed to serve.

The Supreme Court is expecting some plan from the Legislature by April 30th for fulfilling the McCleary funding ruling.  I can only say, good luck with that one.   Here's a legal analysis of the situation by former Supreme Court judge, Phil Talmadge (this the Washington Policy Center).  Basically (emphasis mine):

Will the Legislature sit idly by and not engage in aggressive fiscal or constitutional steps in response to the Court’s actions? Many of its members are restive and have offered what seem to be retributive measures. Other, troubling actions are possible, limited only by legislative imaginations. Apart from reducing the size of the Supreme Court, the Legislature could choose not to fund certain judicial services. It could also consider a constitutional amendment to give the Legislature the exclusive authority to define the courts’ jurisdiction or remedial authority.

None of this is pretty. The prospect of a major constitutional crisis between the legislative and judicial branch is something no one relishes.

While the Legislature certainly must heed the Court’s construction of article IX, § 1 and clearly define basic education and fund it, the Court should respect the Legislature’s exclusive constitutional role to organize K-12 education (article IX, § 2) and to tax appropriate funds (articles II § , VII, § 4).

Speaking of the Washington Policy Center, they and Superintendent Randy Dorn and OSPI seem to be in a bit of a tennis match over what McCleary actually does say.  It's been quite the battle of the press releases and tweets.


Charlie Mas said…
There are four legislators (one from each party from each chamber) who are writing the April 30 report to the Court in which they will try to create the illusion that they are on pace to fully funding education by 2018, as required by both the law (bill 2261 adopted in 2009) and the Court.

In truth, which is known by everyone, the legislature is far, far off the pace of raising education funding to the required level. The legislators know it, the public knows it, and the Court knows it. But the report delivered on April 30 will pretend otherwise. It will be interesting to see if the Court will pretend to believe the report or will acknowledge the truth.

Of course, if the Court does acknowledge the truth, then what? What can they do? Can they hold the legislature in contempt and jail them? Maybe just the leaders. I would dearly love that. This is, after all, the United States, where only the exceptionally wealthy are above the law. Our citizen legislators aren't nearly rich enough to belong to that club.
Patrick said…
Jail, no. Very difficult to work on legislation while in jail.

Sequestering the legislature in a hotel somewhere and not letting them go home until they do their job has some possibilities, though.

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