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Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: McCleary

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September 11, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Supreme Court finds Legislature in contempt on education funding

By Joseph O’Sullivan

03_OlyThe Washington state Supreme Court is holding the Legislature in contempt for not making enough progress toward fully funding public education but, for now, won’t issue sanctions.

In an  order Thursday on the McCleary case, the court  said it will hold off on sanctions until at least the close of the 2015 legislative session. After that, action could be swift.

“On the date following adjournment of the 2015 session, if the State has not complied with the court’s order, the State shall file in the court a memorandum explaining why sanctions or other remedial measures should not be imposed,” reads the order, which was signed by Chief Justic Barbara Madsen.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: McCleary, school funding

September 2, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Court hears arguments in McCleary school-funding case; watch coverage replay

[do action=”scribblelive” chatid=”798627″ template=”21025″/]

Update 3:25 p.m.: The state Supreme Court turned the Temple of Justice into the proverbial woodshed Wednesday afternoon, demanding that state lawmakers explain why they shouldn’t be held in contempt for failing in the last session to come up with a complete plan to fully fund public education by 2018.

“It’s been said that insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result,” Justice Charles Wiggins said to the attorney representing the state. “Why should we think that you’re going to do something different?”

The unusual hearing was the latest clash between the Legislature and the high court arising out of the court’s landmark 2012 McCleary decision declaring Washington’s school funding system unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Thomas Ahearne, has argued that the Supreme Court risks becoming an irrelevant branch of government if it fails to hold the Legislature accountable for failing to carry out the court’s order to submit the funding plan by April — or at least the end of 2014.

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Comments | More in News, Your voices | Topics: live chat, McCleary

June 10, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Putting money where your mouth is: McCleary will force hard truths

Illustration by Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times.

Illustration by Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

For more than 30 years Washington courts have ruled that our state chronically fails to abide by its own rules for educating kids. But the McCleary decision, handed down in 2012, actually sets a hard deadline by which we must change the picture.

The Legislature has until the 2017-18 school year to come up with $6.8 billion, an amount determined to provide all 1 million schoolchildren here equitable opportunities.

While many questions remain unanswered — like, what if we blow the deadline? — a panel of four experts met recently at Seattle’s Town Hall to give voters a sense of progress thus far (see video below). Though the state representative, teachers union lobbyist, education finance negotiator and equity activist came at the topic from varying perspectives, they agreed on many points. Among them:

1: The yawning gulf in school achievement between students of different zip codes is no longer acceptable, either morally or practically.

“The opportunity and achievement gap is almost a criminal reality in our state,” said Frank Ordway, director of government relations for the League of Education Voters. “We have low-income kids and kids of color who are not graduating from high school, or succeeding in school prepared to succeed in life. It’s a dramatic social cost to our state.”

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Comments | More in News | Topics: McCleary

May 28, 2014 at 3:25 PM

Hot topics on Thursday’s agenda: pre-K education, school funding

Two events on Thursday will focus on big issues for public education:

At 5:30 p.m., a Seattle City Council committee will hold a public hearing on a proposal to phase in a universal pre-K program in the city. The council is considering asking Seattle voters to pay for a voluntary pre-K program that would be available for all residents on a sliding fee scale, based on their income.

Public comment sign-up sheets will be available at 5 p.m., with each speaker  allotted up to two minutes.  The hearing will be held at the Jefferson Community Center gym at 3801 Beacon Ave. S.

At 7 p.m., groups led by the Washington State Budget & Policy Center are sponsoring a conversation about the landmark McCleary school funding case, in which the State Supreme Court ruled that legislators are failing their constitutional duty to fund a basic education for all the state’s children.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: early learning, McCleary, pre-K

March 24, 2014 at 3:21 PM

Guest: It’s time for voters to get serious about school funding

Bill Keim

Bill Keim

On Jan. 9, in its latest order related to the McCleary decision, our state Supreme Court required the Legislature to submit a plan on April 30 indicating how it will fully fund our schools by 2018. Many legislators responded that the court overstepped its bounds by issuing that order. This impasse between two governmental branches has the makings of a constitutional crisis. Given the lack of significant progress in the recently completed legislative session, it is likely that the court will become even more adamant in its subsequent orders.

The resolution of this conflict will likely require new revenue. With the power Washington’s citizens have through the referendum and initiative process, they could ultimately decide whether the state provides that revenue. Given that fact, it is critical that voters become informed about this issue.

Any review of how we got to this point would include the passage of House Bill 1209 in 1993. It was intended to improve both the funding and performance of our schools. Two decades after that bill passed, there has been a remarkable increase in student achievement. Washington is now among the top 10 states on the National Assessment of Student Progress (NAEP), but the funding hasn’t followed.

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Comments | More in Guest opinion, Opinion | Topics: Bill Keim, guest opinion, McCleary