Letters to the Editor

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EDUCATION: Court needs to be more specific

Letter by Colin Guthrie, Puyallup on Jan. 5, 2012 at 2:50 pm with 15 Comments »
January 5, 2012 2:50 pm

Although the Washington Supreme Court has ruled that the state is not fully funding basic education, it left the interpretation of what “basic education” is to others to figure out.

RCW 28A.150.210 defines what basic education is, but does not clarify at what level the basic education ends. It defines basic education as understanding of core subject concepts in reading, writing, math, geography, history, civics, government, science, health and fitness, and fine arts. It does not define what level students must achieve at. It does not include services of special education or other extra services schools typically include as basic education.

What the court should have done was specify exactly what basic education includes and at what level of competency students must show at each grade level and be specific in what the Legislature must do to guarantee all students receive a basic education.

Leave a comment Comments → 15
  1. keepinitreal says:

    I respectfully disagree.
    The legislature needs to define and clarify, not the court. The court’s job is to determine legality and whether the constitutional requirement is being met.


  2. Squiddly says:

    Here is an e-mail I received from Judi Owens, President, Public School Employees of Washington (PSE.) My issue is with the entire paragraph #3; by the way, her e-mail address is: judiowens@pseofwa.org
    “Today’s Supreme Court ruling on school funding should put an end to devastating budget cuts of the past few years and put our public schools on a quicker path to the investments that are badly needed.
    This ruling puts the Legislature on notice that school funding must be improved now. We can no longer wait until the economy improves in a few years to get going.
    #3….As the legislative session begins next week, education funding reform – including school employee insurance reform – must be at the forefront of everything lawmakers do. We must see measurable improvement in school funding beginning in 2012.
    Judi Owens, PSE president

    My reply: Do we really believe that the Supreme Court’s decision was to include the out-of-pocket healthcare costs of the staff? We have buildings closing, people losing their jobs, kids with less educational opportunities and even more cuts to basic education and you want to send out this rally cry that employee insurance reform should be included in basic education funding reform? This seems rather ill-timed, petty and selfish if you ask me.

  3. bobcat1a says:

    I believe that the state IS adequately funding basic education…at least as far as sending the money out to school districts. The problem is that too much of that money goes to paying thousands of highly paid experts who never see the inside of a classroom. My district administration which fifteen years ago was run out of two room is now run out of three FLOORS with nice offices and plush carpets and air conditioning who never set foot in my school. We bring in highly paid trainers, for thousands of dollars a day, to spend days (with dozens of substitutes covering classes) teaching what could be easily covered in an hour in an afterschool staff meeting.
    American education has become a bloated bureaucracy dedicated to providing lucrative jobs to people who don’t really want to be in a classroom. The right wing has declared war on teachers and their unions while ignoring the obese administrations making twice what the teachers make, and they don’t belong to a union and somehow there never seems to be fewer of them, only more.

  4. Publico says:

    ahh yes, the old bloated administration smokescreen against paying more in taxes (that are at an all time low) to adequately fund education.
    That excuse is totally worn out and is tital nonsense for anyone who knows anything about education requirements.

  5. Publico says:

    should be …”total nonsense”…

  6. keepinitreal says:

    bobcat, the republicans don’t run Washington State, haven’t for some time.

  7. What a pathetic letter. The court should decide education standards. Not the Legislature and Governor.

    If you believe that you believe that Barack Obama can appoint people to positions when the Senate is in session without their concent. Silly people.

  8. cclngthr says:

    The court was asked to determine if the state is funding basic education. I think the court had to define what specifically is basic education in order to determine the formula for determining the level of funding and if the state is funding it fully.

    The state was sued, and lost due to the varied interpretations of what basic education is. I think the legislature is using one definition where other people, including the schools is using another definition.

  9. cclngthr says:

    I think the state is funding basic education in the definition by the legislature, however schools (typically) use a different definition/interpretation of what basic education is, and the court may be using the definition the schools use to make the ruling.

  10. cclngthr says:

    I think the state is funding basic education in the definition by the legislature, however schools (typically) use a different definition/interpretation of what basic education is, and the court may be using the definition the schools use to make the ruling.

  11. LibertyBell says:

    Remedial Readin, Remedial Ritin, Remedial Rithmetic?

    Define it?

    1, 2, 3, Gov, Leg, Jug?

  12. LibertyBell says:

    Democracy is always Remedial, when one flunks Kindergarden’s 1st Day of School.

    “and to this Republic, for which it stands….

    Justice Kennedy; to Gary Locke and Christine Greguoir?

    “The State of Washington has enacted legislation in an area where the federal interest has been manifest since the beginning of our Republic and is now well established….”

  13. LibertyBell says:

    The Republic?

    Vote Lisa Brown(D) who needs to sue herself, after attending a Washington State High School Civics Class, a Washington State College, and then applied herself to a voter who also flunked 7th grade civics class.

    Brown v Owen? The Court explaining 7th grade civics class,

    A Legislator, sues the Legislature? What a Concept, Vote Delusional Party, Dumbocrats forever!

    IV. CONCLUSION¶ 38 This original action is improperly before this court on application for a writ of mandamus and is a nonjusticiable political question.   Intervention of this court into an intrahouse dispute over a parliamentary ruling to compel the president of the senate to perform a discretionary duty would be a grave violation of separation of powers.   We dismiss the action.

  14. SandHills says:

    WIth the housing market taking years to rebound – but still taxed at assessed value above real value – still we provide funding to our school districts. So for anyone clambering for new or higher taxes to respond to a nebulous decision from the State Supreme court – above and beyond what we are already paying in our districts – I have to ask just how much more can be squeezed out of an economy that is at best still in the recovery room. This is not counting Federal funding that comes in from taxes we pay into that pot.

    I would love to see any tax hike or new tax put on the ballot in response to this screwy court decision, because at least we have that final say in the matter – unless this same Supreme Court rules e voting public has no right to determine how much to be taxed and that our elected officials cannot set priorities for how to allocate tax revenues.

    Some on this forum speak as if the majority among us are just deaf, dumb, and blind, and is readily willing to just throw more money at an education system that hasn’t proven it has wisely used the funding it already gets.

    If you add up funding provided at the district level, state level, and federal level – then be open and transparent about how all this is spent – I believe there is already enough money to , it just needs to be better managed. But the arrogance of the teachers union has already shown it’s true colors by stating their priority in all this court action is to insure more funding goes into treacher benefits.

  15. cclngthr says:

    That was the intent of my letter; the court was unspecific in its ruling.

    I think the court should have determined exactly what consists as basic education, also determined how much money should be provided to provide for that service at the classroom level.

    IMHO, I believe schools receive ENOUGH funding to provide for basic education, meaning basic education which includes education in reading, writing, math, history, geography, life/physical science, health and fitness and fine arts as the legislature originally intended.

    I also believe such funding must be dedicated toward classroom use, and not administrative duties or curriculum design. I also believe such funding should require schools to prove (similar as SPED) of what they are doing to guarantee the students master such concepts.

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