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Court rules state in contempt over school funding

Preamble, Article IX, Washington Constitution: It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.

Tom Ahearne on TVW
Attorney Tom Ahearne explains why the state should be held in contempt for ignoring the Supreme Court’s school funding orders.

The Washington Supreme Court has ruled the State is in contempt of court for failing to comply with the court’s school funding orders – a decision that comes as no surprise to K-12 public school teachers and support staff.

As the court highlighted in its Sept. 11 ruling, lawmakers have been underfunding our children’s education for decades. It’s time for them to live up to their constitutional obligation and fund the quality public education our kids deserve and need to be successful. Our students can’t wait any longer.

The 2015 legislative session, which starts in January, is the state’s final chance to comply with the court’s order to establish a complete plan for fully funding K-12 public schools by the 2017-18 school year.

WEA members expect legislators from both parties, and from both the House and Senate, to show the leadership necessary to fully fund K-12 public schools without sacrificing higher education or crucial social and health services.

Read the court’s contempt order here.

In its January, 2012 McCleary decision, the state Supreme Court ordered the state to fully fund K-12 public schools as required by the Washington Constitution.

“There’s no doubt fully funding our K-12 public schools is a monumental task, but it’s the state’s constitutional paramount duty,” Mead said. “Instead of more delays and excuses, we need leadership and solutions.”

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WEA supports proposed changes in educator pay

As part of its efforts to comply with the McCleary Supreme Court decision, the Legislature created a committee to recommend changes on how educators are paid. The Compensation Technical Work Group recommendations include increasing beginning teacher pay to about $48,000 a year. WEA supports the recommendations in their current form and believes they should be funded as part of the McCleary order. Read the complete educator pay recommendations.

Washington is 43rd in student spending, $2,700 below national average

Adjusted for regional cost-differences, Washington now ranks 43rd in student spending. Only seven states invest less per child. The statistic, based on a new report from Education Week, shows Washington’s ranking fell by one slot and that spending in Washington decreased by $184 per-student from the previous report. The new numbers, which are from 2010, show Washington spends $2,679 less per student compared to the national average. Washington is one of only 19 states whose per-pupil funding declined year-over-year from 2009.

Over the last four years, the state has cut approximately $2.6 billion from the K-12 schools budget.

Washington teacher salaries are losing ground

The National Education Association has released its current Rankings & Estimates of state school statistics.

OSPI reports Washington’s average classroom teacher salary of $52,212 for 2011-12. This is a decrease of 1.3 percent ($714) from the 2010-11 reported salary of $52,926.

NEA’s report shows the 2010-11 average salary of $52,926 ranks 21st nationally (down from $53,003 and 19th in 2009-10).

Washington’s reported salary of $52,926 is —

• $2,697 (4.8 percent) BELOW the national average (50 states and DC) of $55,623

• $11,378 (17.7 percent) BELOW the WEST COAST weighted average (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington) of $64,304

Read the full NEA report.

 

More facts on funding and revenue

“No denying it: At least $10 billion has been cut from the state budget.” Read this report from the Washington State Budget & Policy Center.

Cut deeper or close tax loopholes? Read this compelling comparison from the Our Economic Future Coalition.

Share these news links

Read the speech by President Obama on the economy at Osawatomie High School, in Osawatomie, Kansas

Wealthy businessman Nick Hanauer says tax the rich to support schools and the middle class

The Gates Foundation is funding groups that want to change the way teachers are laid off

Tight Budgets Mean Squeeze in Classrooms

 

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