Tuesday, October 1, 2013

NEWS responds . . .

The Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS), the coalition that filed the successful McCleary lawsuit yesterday issued a press release sharing excerpts from the brief they filed in response to the state's mandated filing to the State Supreme Court. I learned some things in the release that I had not known that captures the depth of the problem our legislature faces.  

By the State’s own testimony in the landmark trial, state funding must rise to a minimum of $12,701 per student by 2018 to comply with the Supreme Court’s order.

“The State reports its per pupil funding under the 2013-15 budget will be $7,279 in 2013-14 and $7,646 in 2014-15,” the NEWS brief stated. “At that under $400/year rate of increase… the per pupil finish line will not be crossed until the 2028-29 school year, if there is no inflation or capital needs.”

From everything we have heard from the Supreme Court this timeline will not accepted.  We are still waiting to hear from the court on the recent filing.  Their response will give us an indication of how much pressure the legislators will feel in the upcoming "short" session.  Short of once again attempting to redefine basic education to lower the targeted $12,701 per student amount, I struggle to see how they will find the necessary revenue to close this gap by 2018 or beyond.  It will take significant shifts in mental models related to taxes to generate this revenue.

It is hard to argue with the excerpt below from the press release.

“Is a constitutional right a real right, or just a nice sounding platitude? Must elected officials obey the constitution, or are they above it? Are court orders a mandate, or just a suggestion? And do our courts hold all citizens accountable to obey the law, or just those citizens who don’t have an official government title?

“The Class of 2018 was in 1st grade when this suit was filed. They were in 4th grade when the Final Judgment was entered against the State in this case. They were in 6th grade when this Court issued its January 2012 decision. Another year of State procrastination and delay might not be that important to most adults. But each year is crucial to a child traveling through our State’s public schools today – for to him or her, each year of amply funded education delayed is a year of amply funded education forever lost.”

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