Legislators Give Themselves a "C" for School Funding Efforts

Update:  From Washington's Paramount Duty board member, Summer Stinson, who attended the committee meeting:
Honestly, I'm incredibly personally perplexed by the legislature's reliance on charter schools as evidence that they've improved basic education in common schools. I'm nearly at a loss of words. So, I will rely on the legislature's words here.
On page 6 of the report, the legislature lists the charter school bill as an example of "enacted policy legislation to support basic education and other legislative education priorities."
Even worse than that is the legislature's statement on page 25: "First, [the state's] budget assumes that there will be a decrease in the caseload number of students enrolled in common schools as those students move from existing common schools to charter schools, so it makes a downward adjustment to funding for common schools and add corresponding funding for charter school enrollments."
end of update

There I was, all ready to go to bed, when I get a text from Washington Paramount Duty co-founder, Summer Stinson.  Summer, who apparently doesn't sleep, had attended the legislature's "work group" on McCleary meeting and was letting me know a couple of items mentioned.  She then sent me a link to this article in the The News Tribune.

Choice quotes:
Obviously we still have a big step to go, and I think we can continue to make progress as we go forward.
                                                             State Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island
A big step? That's the understatement of the year?
“Whether or not the court recognizes that, I think we have set up ourselves to get this solved, finally, in the next session.”

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/politics-government/article77085882.html#storylink=cpy
                                                             State Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island
I'll proffer a guess....no?  Between working their tushes off to pass charter legislation and then, kicking the can down the road with yet another "task force," I'm thinking the Supreme Court, like Queen Victoria, will not be amused.
Between now and June 17, both the state Attorney General’s Office and the McCleary plaintiffs will file briefs with the court, arguing whether or not the court should lift the contempt sanctions.
It’s now up to the Supreme Court to act for our children, because it’s evident the Legislature will not do so.
Summer Stinson, founding member of Washington’s Paramount Duty, a group asking the Legislature to fully fund public schools

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/politics-government/article77085882.html#storylink=cRead more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/politics-government/article77085882.html#storylink=cpy 
The issue is the legislature seemingly has no idea how much levy money is being used "unconstitutionally" to pay for school staff.  (That "unconstitutionally?"  Lies right at the feet of the legislature. Districts wouldn't have had to resort to doing that if their schools had been fully funded.)

And, they need to hire a consultant to do it.  That part kind of baffles me.  Doesn't OSPI exist and have contact with each and every district in this state?  I can see needing a consultant to massage the data into a readable form and I hope that's all.  The report is to get to the legislature by ...November. November!  Doesn't leave much time for thinking about solving that problem, does it?

I found this quote laughable (as I find much of what Senator Fain says to be laughable):
“I’m not going to try to read the court’s mind,” said Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn. “The job that we have to do to pick up the state’s full responsibility for basic education exists in our constitution. No matter what any particular court of law says, we have to solve this problem.”
There is no mind-reading involved.  The court told the legislature what to do.  The constitution tells the legislature what to do.  The numerous studies paid for by the state on school funding have told the legislature what to do.  All anyone is waiting on is for actual WORK to be done.

 Here's their draft of their latest report to the Supreme Court:

They note that the Legislature had been "struggling with the impact of the recession" but then, when they want to prop themselves up, say

Beginning with the 2013-15 biennial budget and continuing through the 2015-17 biennial budget, the Legislature has committed substantial state funding to fulfill the state's statutory obligations under ESHB 2261 and SHB 2776.

without acknowledging that schools had also been struggling with those recession impacts and that some of that "substantial state funding" was backfill, not new money.  (I note that LEV refuses to acknowledge this in their own writing.)

They list their accomplishments - fully-funding all-day K, construction dollars, etc. They go on to talk about other issues and then we get to "Strategies to Close the Educational Opportunity Gap."

That's where they talk about suspension issues, youth in juvenile justice systems, cultural competence training for school staff and board members, endorsements for ELL teachers, etc.  Included in this list are charter schools and they finally address the court "monetary sanction" of $100K per day.

They just brush that fine right off because they is so much left in the General Fund plus reserves that - if I read their intent correctly - the $27.9M accumulated so far is just chump change. So boo on you, Court.

And remember that 1,000+ charter kids we were told existed?  As of Feb. 2016, there were 780 students in eight charter schools.  (How many there were in Summit is unknown but not enough to kick it to 1,000+.)

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/politics-government/article77085882.html#storylink=cp


Patrick said…
C?! Talk about grade inflation... doing nothing but promising to do better next term (again) deserves an F... and I only say an F because there are no G's.
Anonymous said…
Agree. Did not turn in the assignment. Failed the test. Will have to repeat next year. .....F!
NO 1240 said…

Didn't you post a quote from Litzow regarding the half billion dollar levy cliff? As I recall, Litzow had some comment related to the fact that districts had years to prepare for the shortfall and SPS must prepare for a $70-$80M shortfall.

Not only does Litzow push unconstitutional charter laws...he pushes ALEC legislation.

Litzow has drawn a STRONG challenger and her name is lisa Wellman. Write this woman a check and let's get rid of Litzow once and for all.

NO 1240 said…
I also need to point out that the state is facing a teacher shortage. The legislature left Olympia without raising beginning teacher salaries above $35K. Shameful.

LEV is holding meetings about allocation of school funding.
LEV does not represent parents. I am always a bit baffled at why people in the legislature would listen to them any more than any other group. WAPTSA seems AWOL in these discussions (and seem to become more ed reform by the minute.)

But, the women and men at Washington's Paramount Duty are not sitting around. They are continuing the good fight. (And I note, that Summer Stinson went to Olympia just days after a mentally-ill neighbor of hers stabbed both her husband and another neighbor. Thank goodness neither was seriously injured but we can all only imagine the fear of the experience for her family.).

If you want to partner with any group on fully-funded education, look to WPD or even Soup for Teachers. Those are the parents I would be listening to.
Anonymous said…
LEV is part of the problem. Ed deform group made up of people who THINK they know something about public education and THINK this "qualifies" them as "experts", but reality is they know very little. But they do have an agenda & ideology for what they think it should be, and have no qualms about forcing it on others.

WA State Legislature gets a big, fat FAIL.

Just Saying said…
I agree CT, but LEV is connected to big funders. Big funders control Olympia.
Anonymous said…
Agreed, Just Saying.
22 charter school lobbyists showed just how bold those big funders were willing to be in their attempt to purchase more legislators to push their anti-public school agenda. They'd been a little more subtle before, hiding behind their astroturf groups like LEV, A4E, Stand on Children, etc.

Eric M said…
I love this. Totally fail in the most cynical and abysmal way possible, then write your own evaluation and give yourself a C.

I notice Boeing did fine in the handout department.
Because, business.
Charlie Mas said…
I think the only grade they could possibly get is an "incomplete"
Patrick said…
Charlie, my experience was that you only get an incomplete if you had a valid reason for not doing the work. Extended illness, something like that. If you just screwed around and didn't do it, you got a fail.
Teacher Greg said…
I think they intentionally failed, so does that count as a success? Maybe they split the difference and gave themselves a C.
Anonymous said…
Or the C could be for Clueless. Or Callous. Or Condescending (yes Baumgartner & Magendanz, looking at you). Or Charter schools! That's probably it. They gave themselves a C for Cutting $ from public schools to give to privatized Charter schools! Classy!

Anonymous said…
Are you equally frustrated by the chronic underfunding of public education in Washington State? Please consider signing this resolution to demand full funding now! https://youpower.democracyforamerica.com/petitions/stop-the-delays-fully-fund-our-schools?source=wpd

Summer Stinson
Washington's Paramount Duty

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