Update| 5:58 p.m.:
Earlier today, we wrote about two friend-of-the-court briefs concerning the upcoming state Supreme Court hearing on the McCleary decision.
Then we found out that every single living former governor of Washington got together and filed their own brief. Yep, every single one.
Their message is simple. Instead of punishing the state Legislature in September’s hearing, the former governors say the court should lay off, at least until after the 2015 budget session ends. The concern appears to be that political bickering and horse-trading to find billions of dollars for education on a tight deadline might not be in the best interest of the state.
“The Governors are concerned that … the focus has shifted to short-term wrangling over long-term goals,” reads the brief. “The Governors believe that the narrow contempt issue, as framed by the parties and the Court has the potential to derail any partnership en route to the 2018 deadline to fully fund the best education system for Washington’s children.”
And who wrote the brief for former governors Chris Gregoire, Gary Locke, Mike Lowry, John Spellman and Daniel J. Evans? Former governor candidate and past Attorney General Rob McKenna.
Read the whole thing here.
Since the state Supreme Court declared in 2012 that Washington’s schools are underfunded, politicians have struggled to devise a plan to fully fund K-12 education by the court-imposed 2018 deadline.
But how helpful will that be if that money gets taken from programs for low-income children and families?
That’s the concern spelled out in a friend of the court brief filed today by a trio of non-profit organizations. It comes ahead of the Sept. 3 Supreme Court hearing on the landmark school funding case, known as McCleary, where the justices have asked the state to argue why it should not receive sanctions for failing to come up with a plan for increasing education spending. Filed by Columbia Legal Services, The Children’s Alliance, and The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, the brief asks the court to consider the impact McCleary could have on other state spending. The brief reads:
The State funds a number of programs and services that offer low-income students some of the stability they need to overcome the challenges posed outside the classroom. If the Court accepts a plan that essentially funds only academic supports, critical services relied upon by low-income students will be rationed and may ultimately be eliminated or reduced to the point of ineffectiveness.”
Another part reads:
Any order that effectively compels the Legislature to fund education through further cuts to social programs and services that support children’s learning will harm, not improve, the fundamental education rights of hundreds of thousands of students.”
Read that brief in its entirety here.
Another McCleary brief scheduled to be filed today may just highlight those groups’ anxieties. This one is coming from State Superintendent Randy Dorn, and reportedly encourages the Supreme Court to stop non-education spending if McCleary isn’t fully funded.
“In 2013, the Legislature passed its first biennial budget to address McCleary. It didn’t make much progress,” according to a news release from the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction announcing the brief. According to that release, Dorn is asking the Court to “hand the plaintiffs a hammer if enough isn’t accomplished in 2015.”