State falls short on McCleary and K-12 school funding

In its 2012 McCleary decision, the Washington Supreme Court ordered state officials to abide by the Constitution and fully fund K-12 public schools as the state’s “paramount duty.”

The Court set a 2018 deadline, giving legislators six years to phase in the additional funding. Alarmed by the Legislature’s lack of progress toward that goal, the Court ordered the Legislature to write and submit a full funding plan during the 2014 legislative session – which legislators failed to do.

“There was no political agreement reached either among the political caucuses or between the legislative chambers on what the full (McCleary school funding) implementation plan should look like,” legislators wrote in an April report.

Or, as one headline put it: “Despite Deadline, Still No Education Funding Plan from Washington State Legislators.”

In response, the Supreme Court ordered state officials to explain why they shouldn’t be held in contempt of court for failing to develop a funding plan.

The hearing is Sept. 3, and as it gets closer, politiciansnewspaper pundits and other non-educators are making excuses for the Legislature’s inaction and calling for additional delays. Meanwhile, Washington’s per-pupil spending ranks 43rd out of 50 states, we’re 47th in class size and educators have gone six years without a state COLA.

WEA members say it’s time to stop shortchanging our children and public schools. Washington students deserve a quality public education, not more delays and excuses.

“The Supreme Court’s deadline for fully funding public education is 2018,” WEA President Kim Mead said earlier this year. “At this pace, the Legislature won’t meet the requirement to amply fund education for another 20 years. Our kids can’t wait that long. Their futures are at stake.”

To quote one newspaper editorial: “Vague promises are no longer enough.”

WEA and dozens of local unions are members of the coalition that filed the McCleary case five years ago.


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