Kids get a promise, not a plan

When given a test, students often are asked not just to answer the question but to write down how they arrived at their answer: Show your work, they’re told.

In weighing in on how well the Legislature’s recently completed session is meeting the goal of fulfilling the state’s paramount duty to amply fund education, the state Supreme Court was unanimous in repeating its order in the long-running McCleary decision: Show your work.

“This court’s order requires the State explain not just what it expects to achieve by 2018 … but to fully explain how it will achieve the required goals. …,” the justices said.

While the persuasive impact of the court’s sanction — fining the state $100,000 a day until it can show that work — can be debated, it’s clear the court is not impressed with the Legislature’s progress. The state, under the mandate of the 2010 McCleary decision, has been required to increase K-12 education funding to reduce class sizes and address a system of teacher compensation that has relied too heavily and inequitably on local school district levies.

Data from the Washington Association of School Administrators show that during the 1987-88 school year, the state paid an average of 99 percent of each teacher’s salary. By the 2012-13 school year that statewide rate had decreased to 77 percent. For Everett and Monroe school districts about 85 cents of every levy dollar in 2013-14 went to salaries and benefits for teachers, administrators and support staff to make up what the state wasn’t paying.

That’s not to say there was no progress. The court recognized that the recent session resulted in funding that provides for student transportation, meets spending goals for classroom materials and supplies, meets goals for establishing all-day kindergarten in all schools by the fall of 2016, and appropriated $350 million for K-3 class size reductions.

Even so, the court found that the class-size goals for K-3 won’t be met by 2018, that the costs for building new classrooms to meet those goals were not addressed, and that the $350 million appropriation, by the Legislature’s own estimate by its Joint Task Force on Education Funding, falls $313 million short this biennium and will require $1.15 billion for the 2017-18 biennium.

There’s a promise to make good on the goal, the court said, but no plan. The Legislature, in its report to the court, detailed proposed legislation on salaries and levy reform, but nothing was passed into law and it only identified areas of discussion. The court must be shown, it said, how the Legislature will reform the state’s levy system and pay its teachers and other school employees, including a schedule of how a plan will be phased-in and its benchmarks for compliance.

The court urged Gov. Jay Inslee to call the Legislature back into session to begin work on that plan. And Inslee is scheduled to meet with key legislators on Monday regarding the court’s order.

Following a record 176-day session, we understand lawmakers won’t be eager to return to work. But here are two considerations. With the fine at $100,000 a day, the state will have to set aside $14 million or more if it waits until the scheduled start of the 2016 session. And readers will recall that an independent salary commission approved an 11 percent pay raise for lawmakers that will take effect next year.

With sincere appreciation for what the Legislature did accomplish this year, not just in education funding, but in transportation and other areas, work was left undone.

Lawmakers might as well start earning that raise.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Opinion

The vessel Tonga Chief, a 10-year-old Singaporean container ship, is moored at the Port of Everett Seaport in November, 2023, in Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald file photo)
Editorial: Leave port tax issue for campaign, not the ballot

Including “taxing district” on ballot issue to expand the Port of Everett’s boundaries is prejudicial.

Editorial cartoons for Thursday, May 23

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Voters must know that Port of Everett’s district expansion is a tax

Thank you to The Herald Editorial Board for letting Snohomish County voters… Continue reading

Support local journalism by supporting Herald reporters guild

The Sno-Isle Sierra Club supports independent journalism. We are impressed by The… Continue reading

Bouie: Justice Alito is the true believer his flag says he is

The Supreme Court justice is just as vulnerable to motivated reasoning as any other political person.

Editorial cartoons for Wednesday, May 22

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Snohomish County Councilmembers Nate Nehring, left, and Jared Mead, speaking, take turns moderating a panel including Tulip Tribes Chairwoman Teri Gobin, Stanwood Mayor Sid Roberts and Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell during the Building Bridges Summit on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023, at Western Washington University Everett in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Editorial: Candidates, voters have campaign promises to make

Two county officials’ efforts to improve political discourse skills are expanding to youths and adults.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson speaks to a reporter as his 2024 gubernatorial campaign launch event gets underway in Seattle, on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. ( Jerry Cornfield/Washington State Standard)
Editorial: Recruiting two Bob Fergusons isn’t election integrity

A GOP activist paid the filing fee for two gubernatorial candidates who share the attorney general’s name.

Foster parent abstract concept vector illustration. Foster care, father in adoption, happy interracial family, having fun, together at home, childless couple, adopted child abstract metaphor.
Editorial: State must return foster youths’ federal benefits

States, including Washington, have used those benefits, rather than hold them until adulthood.

Krugman: Dow’s record high says as much about Trump as economy

Markets aren’t a good gauge of the economy, but they detect bull in Trump’s claim the economy is a cesspool.

Burke: Torrent of lies doing what’s intended; wearing us down

When media outlets stop bothering to check the facts that leaves it to us to question the falsehoods.

Drivers could have helped limit mess from I-5 shutdown

While I was not involved in the I-5 northbound traffic backup on… Continue reading

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.