Monday, November 27, 2017

McCleary: the long and winding road continues

The Washington State Supreme Court ruled recently on whether the legislature had done its duty by the Court's McCleary ruling about fully funding Washington State public schools.

It was a fairly big yes except that the Court also said (and I'm paraphrasing), "But you are not done yet and you need to get it done this next session."

From an editorial from  The Columbian:

Notably, however, they also said that waiting until 2019 to fully fund salaries for teachers and staff will not meet the deadline of Sept. 1, 2018.

Most observers say that another $1 billion in funding must be approved during next year’s legislative session to meet the mandate. Until lawmakers meet the “paramount duty” spelled out in the state constitution, the court will retain jurisdiction and leave in place a $100,000-a-day fine that now amounts to more than $80 million.
The Columbian noted this:
Claiming that changes to the funding mechanism require time to be implemented ring hollow when lawmakers should have been serious about the issue beginning in 2012 rather than waiting until deep into the 2017 session.
The main sticking point is where about $1B will come from to fix teacher/staff funding.  Some legislators, along with state superintendent Chris Reykdal, say the legislature can't restructure fast enough to do that.  The judges seem to be taking a dim view of this "my dog ate my homework" notion but, on the other hand, the Court has shown little taste for doing much else than handing out demerits via the now-silly $100K a day fine.

Washington's Paramount Duty statement (partial):
All schools in Washington need more funds, but some schools need a lot more than others. We must amply and equitably fund our public schools to address the opportunity gap that continues in our state. 

WPD will strive to ensure basic education is funded at levels that are comparable to similarly prosperous states. We will continue to advocate for progressive new revenue to amply fund all aspects of our schools, including sufficient counselors, school nurses, special education support, addressing the opportunity gap, professional development needs, and the increase in staff that is needed to meet smaller class sizes for every child - especially for children with greater needs.
We support the Court’s ruling that the legislature needs to find funds to fill the $1 billion funding gap as soon as possible. Some legislators have proposed using the rainy day fund for this shortfall. WPD believes this is an irresponsible use of the rainy day fund and that progressive new revenue is needed to fulfill this gap. 

We call on the legislature to revisit progressive new proposals from the last legislative session, such as introducing a capital gains tax and closing large corporate tax loopholes, to address the missing $1 billion for our public schools. We expect the legislature to succeed in meeting their self-proposed deadline and fulfilling the Supreme Court’s order, but if not, WPD will encourage the Court to levy further sanctions against the state.

In addition, Washington’s capital budget must be approved urgently to address the approximately $2 billion needed to fund new and renovated buildings so that schools can meet the lower class sizes required by voters, and so that every child in Washington attends a school that is safe, not overcrowded, and seismically sound to withstand the earthquakes that can affect our region.
 Excellent point that the capital fund for schools is also being held hostage. 

From the Times:

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Pondering "what can get done this session?" comes from the Everett Herald:
Lawmakers in both parties are not going to want to push the session much longer than 60 days. Next year is an election year for all House seats and the majority of Senate seats, and lawmakers are barred from campaign fundraising while the Legislature is in session. With this month’s Democratic win in a special election, the Democrats will hold a one-vote majority in the Senate, along with their two-vote majority in the House. Both parties will want to maximize their campaign time. 
Lastly, we hear from Opportunity Washington, a coalition group for business interests.
Finding the money was a challenge last session. During the short session, which is often about clean-up and tweaks in a supplemental budget, the challenge is greater.
Well, it wouldn't be if they had done their jobs in the first place and gotten McCleary completely finished.
We’ve written previously about the importance of improving the graduation rate and maintaining graduation standards, shared our concerns with lingering achievement gaps, and expressed support for targeted early learning programs.

As lawmakers consider education, funding should not be their only concern. Fortunately, it hasn’t been in the past. And we should all be realistic about how much can be accomplished in the 2018 session.
Folks, that's business on parade for you.  They love to moan about the lack of educated workers but then say, "let's be realistic." Being a lady prevents me from stating what I really think of this kind of half-assed, demented thinking.

I normally might urge you to write to your legislator but really, with the slide to the holidays, I say PTAs and districts and parents should wait until the session starts and slam legislators with demands to get this done.


Watching said...

IMO, McCleary is almost complete. We will see legislators tinker around the edges.

At some point, we will see a cap on Seattle's levy funding. I do not believe that Seattle will be in a better position.

Anonymous said...

Funding Options

Washington is somewhat unique in that students can pay for an accredited online high school, or can take advantage of free options. For example, Red Comet is an accredited online high school available at no charge for Washington State students. However, there are numerous other programs (at least 35) that can be utilized, including the state-led initiative from the Digital Learning Department. Funding from the state is only provided to courses that meet OSPI requirements and other criteria.


The Washington constitution states that providing an education to all children within its borders is the “...paramount duty of the state.” The constitution does not, however, limit how this education should be provided. While traditional public schools serve most students in Washington, several alternatives exist – like private schools and homeschooling – which meet the paramount duty requirement. Online public education programs are one of these educational alternatives. Regarding funding, joining an online public education program is the same as enrolling in public school. Parents do not pay direct tuition to the online program. Like other public school
programs, they, along with all other state residents, pay for it through their taxes.

In 2005,Governor Gregoire signed SB5828, expanding the definition of a full ‐time student to allow districts to claim funding for students receiving instruction through digital programs, which includes online learning.

--Options exist

Melissa Westbrook said...

Options, what does that have to do with fully funding public education, especially given the less-than-stellar outcomes of online learning?

Anonymous said...


What is your relationship to Red Comet? I’ve seen the occasional post lately that looks an awful lot like advertising.

Come Clean

Anonymous said...

Funding Options is definitely a Red Comet advertisement. EXACT same wording on the red comet website.