McCleary v. State of Washington
WSPTA participates in the McCleary lawsuit through our membership in NEWS (Network for Excellence in Washington Schools). NEWS is one of the original plaintiffs in the McCleary lawsuit, and a plaintiff/respondent in the Supreme Court proceedings. NEWS has a complete collection of Supreme Court documents on these proceedings here.
Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS) was launched in October 2005 when it became clear that action was needed to force the state to make good on its promise to each and every child in Washington. Washington State PTA is proud to be an original member since its organization.
Basic education, both its definition and its funding, has been on WSPTA’s legislative platform for decades. Even as state-mandated learning standards have risen, years of state under funding have forced school districts to use local levy dollars to fund basic education programs, leading to inequities, larger class sizes, loss of specialists, and out-of-date curriculum and technologies.
In January 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that the state must:
- Amply fund basic education as its paramount duty
- Provide a funding mechanism which is “dependable and regular”
- Not rely on local levies to fund the Program of Basic Education
Moreover, the court kept jurisdiction of the case to ensure the state met its legal obligations. It called out the 2009 basic education bill as promising reform that, if fully funded by the target date of 2018, will “remedy deficiencies in the K-12 funding system.”
The state legislature is now faced with moving billions of dollars more into annual K-12 funding by 2018.
The situation facing the state legislature is not just about the amount of money. Washington’s current K-12 funding system violates the state constitution. Not only is it the state’s paramount duty to amply fund education, the state must also provide for a general and uniform system of schools that give all children the opportunity to prepare to compete in today’s economy and meaningfully participate in this state’s democracy, per the state constitution and legal interpretations of “education.”To comply with court rulings, the legislature must create a funding stream that shifts the burden away from local taxes while also bringing in additional revenue.
- SECTION 1 PREAMBLE. It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.
- SECTION 2 PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM. The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools.
Read the full state constitution here.