Sunday, August 25, 2013

Proving difficult to find a common message . . .

Early in August I posted about the deadline the legislature has in filing an update with the State Supreme Court on progress towards meeting the mandates of the McCleary decision.  In this Crosscut piece from the 22nd we learn that they are no closer as the deadline looms.  It appears that there is agreement on the numbers, but the two parties are struggling to find agreement on what the numbers mean and how to convey the message to the Court.

The eight-legislator committee — two House Republicans, two Senate Republicans, two House Democrats, and two Senate Democrats — failed to agree Wednesday during a meeting in Burien on how to frame the basic figures in a larger picture for the court. Both sides hope to reach an agreement by next week.

Republicans and Democrats disagree on the exact boundaries of what is "basic education," said Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia. The report needs to be able to hold up under scrutiny by the McCleary plaintiffs and to preserve flexibility for future legislatures, said Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle.

Members of each party have drafted their responses that have some common components, but that also contain points not found in the other draft.  For example, the Republican draft speaks to the reform measures passed last session that they sponsored while the Democratic response is silent on this legislation.  The Democratic draft includes information on the legislature's suspension of voter approved cost-of-living increases that is not included in the Republican draft.

They have less than one week to agree on a common message.  What that message communicates and how the Court responds will set the stage for the pace of education change in our state leading to the 2017 deadline to meet the Court's mandate for fully funding public education.

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