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Category: Education


Washington State Supreme Court rules unconstitutional initiatives that require two-thirds majority for tax hikes

In a landmark ruling 20 years in the making, the Washington State Supreme Court this morning struck down Initiative 1053 as unconstitutional. The court majority said the constitution controls the majority needed for tax hikes and the constitution requires only a majority of the members of the House and Senate.

That means the only way for backers of the so-called super-majority for tax hikes can achieve that goal is to go through the more-burdensome method of amending the constitution which itself requires a two-thirds vote of both houses and then a majority vote of the people.

“The language and

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Washington Supreme Court expected to release ruling on challenge to two-thirds tax initiatives

The Supreme Court often releases a list of rulings it expects to post. While it says “may” and there have been a few times when an expected case was not released, it usually means “will.”

So here is the list for Thursday:

It is anticipated that the following opinions may be filed this week.

· 87105-1 Klem v. WA Mutual Bank, et al.

· 87425-5 League of Education Voters, et al. v. State, et al.

· 86433-1Schroeder v. Excelsior Mgmt. Group, LLC, et al.

League of Education Voters v. State is the challenge to the constitutionality of

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Poll: Voters split on more taxes for schools


A poll released today finds voters split on whether Washington state should raise taxes to fully fund schools.

The poll was done by a Portland firm, DHM Research, and commissioned by advocates of school funding and accountability in the Excellent Schools Now coalition. Pollsters talked to 500 voters in January and found 45 percent of voters backing higher funding for K-12 schools even if it requires a tax increase.

The poll also surveyed 500 teachers in December and found 70 percent of them agreed with the same question.

It has been more than a year since the state Supreme

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Winning side in McCleary school funding case asks Legislature to get moving

The coalition of school districts, teachers unions and education activists that won the landmark school funding case last year want lawmakers to take quick and generous action this session.

Called the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS), the group filed the litigation that became known as McCleary v. Washington. It was decided last January by a unanimous state Supreme Court that ruled the state was violating its constitutional duty to amply fund public schools. Seven of the nine justices then decided to retain jurisdiction to supervised how the Legislature and governor make annual progress toward a full-funding deadline of 2018.

The letter, signed by NEWS president Nick Brossoit, also the superintendent of the Edmonds School District, reminded lawmakers that the court’s first review of legislative action since the ruling was released was scolding.

“In December, the Court chastised the 2012 Legislature’s failure to make that Court-ordered progress, noting that “the overall level of funding remains below the levels that have been declared constitutionally inadequate.”

Here is the letter that was sent to all members of the Legislature this week: Read more »


Senators will consider giving principals a veto

The Senate Education Committee is due to consider Friday if principals and teachers should each be able to veto the teachers’ school assignments.

If Senate Bill 5242 were to become law, teachers “may be assigned to a particular school only with the mutual agreement of the principal and the staff member being assigned.”

The measure provides for temporary assignments when mutual agreement can’t be reached, such as substitute, support-staff or district-office jobs. But it says school districts can start the process of dismissing a teacher who has spent eight months in a temporary job.

Sen. Steve Litzow, who sponsored the bill and

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State schools chief Dorn asking legislators for authority over charter schools

Washington schools superintendent Randy Dorn has sent state lawmakers a request to alter language in the charter schools initiative that voters approved in November. The Associated Press is reporting Dorn sent a letter asking legislators, who open a 105-day regular session on Monday, to give him authority over the schools:

Dorn says the law, which was approved by voters in November, is unconstitutional because it establishes a separate system of public schools, run by an independent, unelected agency. The state constitution says the superintendent of public instruction is in charge of all matters

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Gregoire says she wants to see college tuition actually cut – eventually

Gov. Chris Gregoire has a few misgivings about what state policy makers had to do as they worked through the Great Recession over the past four years, and tuition policy is one apparent regret. The two-term governor told The Olympian’s editorial board Tuesday that she would like to see tuition reduced in the future, reversing what has been a galloping growth in students’ share of costs for higher education – now hitting 70 percent of the cost of education at four-year universities.

That is double what tuition’s share was in 2000.

Gregoire, a Democrat, did not specify how low she wants tuition to drop, and her top spokesman Cory Curtis later said there was nothing specific in the works in terms of a proposal for her successor, Gov.-elect Jay Inslee. “I think it’s still a question, coming out of the recession, what can the budget handle. This may not be the time to handle that,” Curtis said.

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What’s your solution to McCleary? Fill in the blanks

A task force trying to find more state money for Washington’s public schools considered some possible solutions today, and invited the public and civic and interest groups to submit their own solutions.

You can download a form here. Fill it in and send to the Joint Task Force on Education Funding (instructions here under “other materials”) by noon on Nov. 30 for consideration at the panel’s next meeting, as it enters its final month before its deadline to make a recommendation to the state Legislature.

For examples, you can consult these three scenarios (pages 3-5) put forward as possibilities today

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