Thursday, February 28, 2013

Education and the courts . . .
Learned this morning in a post that in a 6 to 3 vote the State Supreme Court struck down the requirement for a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise taxes.  This opens up the possibility for revenue for schools, but with one house supporting revenue increases and the other plus the Governor saying they won't support a tax increase it will be interesting to watch how this decision unfolds in the complicated environment in Olympia.  A couple comments from the post, one from Chris Korsmo of the League of Education voters and the second from Senator Pam Roach capture the huge divide in belief around this issue.

"This ruling is a huge win for kids and schools," said Chris Korsmo, CEO of the League of Education Voters, one of the lead plaintiffs. "Washington schools need to be fully funded in order to ensure that all kids reach their potential. This ruling, combined with the recent McCleary decision, will help ensure that our kids have all the resources they need to get an excellent education."

State Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, said the court had opened the floodgates of taxation with its ruling. The chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Operations Committee has already proposed a constitutional amendment to make the two-thirds majority permanent.

"This is a seminal point in our history," she said, noting that the people in every county have already shown their support for a two-thirds tax rule.

Another education issue has found its way into the court room.  In this January 9th post and earlier posts I shared about the possibility of  a lawsuit against charter schools if WEA could find partners.  Well, it seems as if they were successful as they filed a legal challenge with the state attorney general questioning the constitutionality of the law.  WEA was joined in this effort by the League of Women Voters and El Centro del la Rosa.  If the attorney general does not take action on the seven constitutional issues that were raised they will file a lawsuit.

In this Education Week article we see how Attorney General Ferguson responded last night.

"We all share the desire to provide the highest quality education for our children. As the state's attorney, it's my responsibility to defend the will of the voters and I will be directing my legal team to do so in this case," Ferguson said in a statement.

One of the arguments supporting the legal challenge relates to funding for public schools.

. . .The group's issues range from the way the law would divert money from public schools to private nonprofit organizations, to a perceived violation of the requirement that the superintendent of public instruction should supervise everything related to public schools.

Looks like another education issue to be resolved in the court system, most likely headed to the State Supreme Court.

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