Op-Ed: Dorn: Court Did Little More than ‘Kick the Can’

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Supreme Court of the State of Washington filed a ruling in the McCleary school funding case. Below is a statement from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn on the ruling.

OLYMPIA - I was more than a little disheartened by the state Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling. Until yesterday, I held out hope that at least the Court understood the importance of the issue.

But now I can count them as more leaders in this state who don’t want to push the hard button to ensure equity in education for all students in Washington.

On its face, McCleary is about funding. As the Court ruled nearly five years ago, the state isn’t providing adequate education funding for our students.

But McCleary is about much more than that. It’s about Zip codes. It’s about the haves and the have-nots. It’s about a funding system – and therefore, an education system – that widens the chasm between wealthy and poor.

And the Court’s response to this chasm? They want to wait yet another session to see what the Legislature does.

They want to kick the can.

Sure, we can wait another session. That won’t be a problem in wealthy districts. Voters there pass bonds, which help build new schools. They pass levies, which can pay extra for teachers, giving those students access to higher quality teaching. But in poor districts, individual homeowners have to pay more for the same levy amounts. Students in those areas simply aren't getting the same 21st century education opportunities as students in wealthy districts.

I worried that in an election year the Court would do nothing. I filed a lawsuit in July because this issue must be resolved. The Legislature has to fix the overdependency districts have on local levies. The Legislature cannot keep passing bills that force districts to spend local levy dollars on basic education. That is the state’s responsibility, not each district’s.

In August I likened the Court to a parent who begs and pleads for the child to clean her room. The child keeps saying, “I will, I will.” The child cleans her closet some, and maybe straightens up her desk, but that’s it. What should a parent do in this situation?

Certainly not to wait a year and ask again.

That’s where we are now. We’re waiting yet another session and hoping the Legislature cleans its room.

Our children deserve better – much better. Our children deserve a world-class education. Our children deserve leaders who don’t bow to political pressure. Our children deserve leaders who care about them every day and every year.


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