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January 13, 2014 at 6:30 AM

A state education plan is a paramount necessity

Washington State Supreme Court (Seattle Times Photo/Ken Lambert)

Washington State Supreme Court
(Seattle Times Photo/Ken Lambert)

Nothing happens without the money to make things happen. I get that part. But the Washington  Supreme Court’s recent follow-up on its 2012 McCleary decision was almost too much about the money. I was looking for a cautionary admonition not only about raising the cash, but also spending it wisely.

No one watching the debacles with the Highway 520 Bridge and the downtown Seattle tunnel can ever imagine that money truly compensates for poor prior planning.

I will stipulate that all I know about legal matters I learned from watching “Perry Mason” reruns. Go ahead, denounce my comments as incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial.

Nonetheless, the core take-away for most folks reading the Jan. 9 order,  is that McCleary is about the money. Yes, the court’s 2012 decision directed the state to lay out education reforms in “sufficient detail to allow progress to be measured according to periodic benchmarks…”

And yes, there is a substantial “However”  imbedded in the order that raises the justices’ frustration with understanding how the state does indeed measure success. The state wants a big hug from the court for doing well, but the court cannot fathom what has been accomplished.

Empowering the state to throw money at education is no answer. Do indeed hold the state accountable for real education plans with measurable standards, including teacher reviews.

Lean on the state to provide a package of education reforms and improvements. How much would that cost to provide? Serious K-12 programs, with all the complementary elements, including appropriate teacher pay and benefits.

Compelling results are the best argument for spending more and sustaining that progress. Arguing the state’s nearly 300 school districts are doing better because the financial percentages are up is a true turnoff for parents and taxpayers.

Lawmakers, tell us about plans and reforms. Those details are what an obviously impatient Supreme Court can help push the state to provide.

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