Monday, September 2, 2013

Legislators respond . . .

In this earlier post , I shared the struggle that a team of legislators was having reaching agreement on a mandated response to the State Supreme Court ruling in the McCleary case.  In this Crosscut piece we learn that they met the deadline by leaving out components that  the other party found troubling.  The result was a report that simply reviewed how the session put about $1 billion into public education.

Republicans and Democrats always agreed on the basic facts and figures. But their work on the report stalled last week as they argued over how to put those figures into context to the Supreme Court. Also last week, the committee's four Democrats proposed asking the Supreme Court to clarify what the overall fix-it plan should generally look like and to define what "progress" means as the Legislature tackles interim steps on a long-term fix. The Democrats also wanted to ask for guidance on how teachers' salaries fit in the constitutional picture.
The questions were ultimately left out of the report.

Superintendent Dorn responded to the filing with a short press release calling the legislator's 2013 actions "incomplete."

On Tuesday, the state Legislature submitted a report to the state Supreme Court about their progress to fully fund basic education by 2018. I grade their efforts as “incomplete.”
During the 2013 legislative session, I said – repeatedly – that to get our state on the path to fully funding education by 2018, the Legislature should add $4 billion to education spending in the 2013-15 biennium. And at the minimum, a $1.4 billion increase would be a very small deposit.

The Legislature fell short: They chose to increase the education budget by less than $1 billion.

Tom Ahearne, lead attorney for the coalition that won the case, believes the actions taken by the 2013 legislature did not go far enough as seen in this The Columbian report about the Court response.

"I think they are doing what they think they can get away with," said attorney Tom Ahearne. "The court is going to have to decide if we are just going to sit back and do nothing or are we going to be vigilant and make sure the constitution is enforced.

What really matters is how the Court responds to the decisions made in the 2013 session.  Are they making adequate progress to full funding as mandated by the court?  The Court's answer to that question will set the stage for the 2014 session and influence future funding of our learning journey.

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