Inside Opinion

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Tag: mccleary decision

June
29th

A surprisingly good budget from a divided Legislature

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

The 2013 Legislature can’t be judged a success because it failed to approve the major highway improvements needed to keep Washington’s economy growing.

That said, lawmakers deserve praise for pulling together a surprisingly good operating budget last week in the face of deadline pressure.

For months, the Legislature was locked in the kind of partisan gridlock that has all but paralyzed the budget-writing process in Congress.

The Democrats who run the state House of Representatives were pushing to preserve the social safety net by ending a collection of tax breaks and

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March
13th

Wrong year for grants to undocumented students

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Need grants for undocumented students is a good idea whose time hasn’t come. It shouldn’t be holding up other college assistance legislation, as seems to be happening in the state Senate.

The argument against expanding financial aid to young illegal immigrants this year can be summed up in a single word: McCleary.

In last year’s McCleary decision, the state Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to fully fund basic education. Lawmakers already face a projected deficit of nearly $1 billion, and some believe it would take yet another $1 billion to begin meeting

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Jan.
19th

Are they ready for kindergarten? Finally, numbers

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

The state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision has this year’s legislators scrambling to pump more dollars – and reforms, we hope – into the public schools.

A potential pitfall is that education will be defined too narrowly.

As far as the law is concerned, “basic education” is delivered from kindergarten through high school. That’s what the Legislature is constitutionally obligated to fund. But what happens before kindergarten – early learning – is at least as important. More so, for many students.

As a rule, kids who aren’t reading as well as their peers by the fourth grade are at great risk of eventually dropping out. Sadly, they often show up on the first day of kindergarten with disadvantages so great that only heroic teaching efforts can help them catch up.

And the same factors that hurt them before kindergarten – such as absentee dads, poverty, untreated illnesses and homes bereft of books – are often still dogging them in the early grades.

Statewide efforts to help these children have been plagued by a lack of information. Washington has had no system in place to track disparities in kindergarten readiness and do something about them. Until now.

Over the last two years, at the behest of the Legislature, early-learning specialists have been development the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills. WaKIDS, as it is called, aims to assist incoming kindergartners in several ways. It emphases parental education, for example, for moms and dads who want to prepare their children for academics but don’t know where to begin.

Just this month, it has also begun delivering precious hard numbers.

Despite longstanding concerns about achievement opportunity gaps, this state had never taken a close, statistical look at the needs of its kindergartners.

Under WaKIDS, kindergarten teachers are evaluating their new students against commonly accepted standards. For example: Can they write their own names? Are they familiar with books? Do they make friends?
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Dec.
22nd

Gregoire’s DOA budget plan offers roadmap of possible routes

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Entering her last few weeks as governor, Chris Gregoire tied up one of her constitutionally mandated duties Tuesday. She presented a 2013-2015 budget that makes cuts, raises taxes and is, almost certainly, dead on arrival.

But there’s value in this $34 billion lame-duck proposal, if only to frame the huge challenge before incoming governor Jay Inslee, the Democratic House and the closely divided Senate as they try to reach consensus on a budget.

As in years past, they’ll face a deficit (just under $1 billion), a still-shaky economy and a voter-approved initiative that limits their ability to raise taxes. Add to that the directive in January from the Washington Supreme Court to make progress on addressing a serious shortfall in funding for K-12 education.

The urgency of doing that was reinforced Thursday when the court ruled that the Legislature is moving too slowly in finding more money for education. Although the state has until 2018 to solve its education shortfall problem under the McCleary lawsuit decision, the court wants to see more steady progress than it’s seen so far.
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