Saturday, August 3, 2013

Using the ambiguity . . .

It seems that the legislature has until August 29th to file an update with the State Supreme Court on progress towards meeting the mandates of the McCleary decision.  This is proving difficult as there are questions with no definitive answers and differences of opinion on what progress has been made.  This Crosscut article shares the status of this update being put together by eight legislators.

Pieces of that question include: What's "steady progress"? What does a 2018 deadline really mean? If you measure progress on a make-believe linear graph, where does Washington stand? How does the lack of a cost-of-living raise for teachers factor in?

The Crosscut piece is a factual accounting of what has taken place and current status of the conversations attempting to bring clarity to what the Court expects.  This Education Week article on the same topic paints a different less flattering picture of what the legislators are trying to do.  The title captures it well.

WA lawmakers may add year to ed reform payments

The article suggests that the legislative team may use the ambiguity in the decision to create an additional year to come up with the billions that all sides agree will be necessary to meet the "ambiguous" McCleary  requirements.

At a Wednesday meeting to discuss the Aug. 29 report, lawmakers got into a side discussion about what the court meant by its 2018 deadline.

Does it mean Jan. 1, 2018? Does it mean fiscal year 2018, which begins July 2017? Or does it mean the 2018-2019 school year, which begins in Sept. 2018.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Dave Stolier said the court has not been clear on what the deadline means. He noted that the ruling mentions several pieces of education reform legislation that was equally vague about the deadlines the Legislature set for itself.

"There's some room for interpretation," Stolier said.

It didn't take long for lawyers from the successful coalition to respond.

"The Supreme Court ordered full compliance by 2018 - not 'during' 2018," Thomas Ahearne said Wednesday in an email.

"Full compliance by 2018 requires full compliance in the 2017-2018 school year," Ahearne added. "Delaying full compliance until the 2018-2019 school year might be compliance during 2018 - but it would not be the full compliance the Supreme Court ordered be completed by 2018."

Same situation reported with two different takes.  Had I not read the Education Week article I would be thinking that the task before the legislator team is daunting, but I would not have seen the ambiguity as an opportunity to add another year.  Interestingly, I haven't seen anything in the blogs I read about this situation.  It is time to move forward on meeting the McCleary requirements by 2018 and that means by the 2018-19 school year.

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