Thursday, February 21, 2013

A reminder of the gap . . .

Nick J. Brossoit, Superintendent of the Edmonds School District and current President of the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS) sent an email today sharing a letter that went to every member of the legislature.  The focus of the letter was reminding the legislators of their constitutional requirement to uphold the State Constitution including the order from the State Supreme Court to fully fund education in the McCleary case.  

This letter is timely given the lack of conversation thus far on this topic in Olympia and the likelihood that the Senate budget, the first one to be released sometime in mid to late March, will not include new revenue.  There are Senators who are much more engaged in pushing further reforms than they are in finding revenue to support the court order.  The chart below that was sent with the letter highlights the difficult road that these legislators face to comply with full funding by 2018.  I believe that those legislators that think they can take care of this requirement without new revenue are simply using the McCleary decision for trade offs for additional reforms.  

I look forward to hearing from the Senators and the Governor on how they will make steady progress to fill the gap between our current reality of about $9,300 per student and the $12,500 needed by 2018 to comply with the court order.  That gap is too great to not begin the steady progress with this biennium, unless in some way they are able to once again redefine "basic education" in a way that lowers the gap.  I am concerned that there is not a shared aspiration in the legislature needed for the creative tension to find new and adaptive structures to close the gap.  Without a shared aspiration this will continue to be a political and not an educational issue in Olympia.

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