The Washington State Supreme Court ruled last week that the state is not complying with its constitutional duty to “make ample provision for the basic education of all children in Washington.”
Is anyone surprised?
It’s not just that the state is nickel-and-diming our kids; it’s more like it’s doing it by $5s and $10s.
We know the state has a financial problem. The Legislature convened Monday and lawmakers will have to deal with a $1 billion shortfall to the state’s budget. That makes finding adequate money for education all the more difficult.
But the court didn’t say, “Oh, in that case, never mind.” In fact, it has retained jurisdiction over the case to, as it says, “facilitate progress in the state’s plan to fully implement the reforms by 2018.”
That means it could take another six years before the state finally fixes our broken educational system and gives our kids the education they deserve and the state constitution says the state is legally bound to provide.
That timeframe is bad, but it’s actually worse. The case prompting the Supreme Court ruling was filed in 2007. A coalition of teachers, school districts, community groups and parents argued that the state had not fulfilled its constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education and relied too heavily on local levies to do the job.
In other words, the state passed the buck to local taxpayers to do what it is required to do. Of course, the state also limits how much money we can raise locally to provide teachers in our classrooms.
The answer doesn’t mean the state should local school districts raise whatever they can from local taxpayers. That would leave poor school districts even further behind wealthier areas – such as ours – in providing an education for their kids.
The answer is for the state to do its job. And it should find a way to do this sooner than 2018. Our kids need a decent education now.
– Craig Groshart, Issaquah & Sammamish Reporter