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.”