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Understanding the State of Education Funding in Washington State

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Policy & Legislation

The Washington State Supreme Court is requiring the legislature to fully fund basic education. (Image Source: Wikimedia)

The Washington State Supreme Court is requiring the legislature to fully fund basic education. (Image Source: Wikimedia)

In 2012, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in McCleary v. the State of Washington that the legislature was not fully funding basic education as mandated by our state’s constitution. Two years later, the court has found that the legislature has not yet complied with their ruling and is considering further action to ensure progress is made toward fully funding education by 2018.

As the Washington State Budget & Policy Center explains in their report A Paramount Duty: Funding Education for McCleary and Beyond, “To create opportunities that will help all children –from the time they enter the classroom to when they join the workforce – investments beyond McCleary’s mandates are a must.”

While the court takes this issue under consideration, organizations representing communities across the state have mobilized to voice their concerns around revenue and funding allocations.

Two amicus briefs, a way for an individual or organization that isn’t a party to a case to express an opinion or provide information to a court case under consideration, have recently been submitted to the court in support of providing sustainable funding for basic education that doesn’t take away from other state services.

The Washington State Budget & Policy Center in partnership with Centerstone, Equity in Education Coalition, Eldercare Alliance, Solid Ground, Statewide Poverty Action Network and students from the University of Washington filed an amicus brief recommending that the court encourage the legislature to raise additional revenue that is stable and dependable in order to fully fund basic education.

The Children’s Alliance, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and Columbia Legal Services also filed an amicus brief recommending that the state refrain from funding K-12 education in a way that jeopardizes housing and other basic services to children and families.

In addition to these briefs, State Superintendent Randy Dorn also filed a brief asking the court to require lawmakers to “make substantial progress” toward meeting McCleary’s requirements – which, by one legislative estimate, would require at least an additional $33 billion in the next two-year budget – during the 2015 session.

This article from KPLU provides an overview of each of the briefs addressing this education funding crisis. School’s Out Washington will continue to track this issue and provide information to our constituents as this will impact funding for afterschool, youth development and Expanded Learning Opportunities.


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