July 2012: The Washington State the Supreme Court follows up its landmark January 2012 ruling in the McCleary case with another victory for NEWS, ordering the State to make annual progress reports to the court and allowing NEWS to respond to each of the State’s reports to inform the Court of the accuracy of the State’s claims.
January 2012: The Washington State Supreme Court rules unanimously that the State of Washington is violating its constitutional “paramount duty” to amply fund the education of all K-12 students. The court upholds the 2010 Superior Court decision in McCleary v. State declaring that the State must amply fund education first before any other programs or operations. And, the court takes the remarkable step of retaining jurisdiction over the case to ensure that its ruling is enforced and that the State fully funds K-12 education by 2018.
June 2011: The State appeals its King County Superior Court loss in McCleary and a hearing is held before the Washington State Supreme Court. Watch a video of the hearing.
February 2010: King County Superior Court Judge John Erlick issues his final judgment in McCleary v. State, holding that NEWS had proven its case on virtually every point and declaring that the State of Washington was in violation of its constitutional mandate to make ample provision for the education of all children.
August – October 2009: The landmark McCleary v. State trial is held before Judge John Erlick in King County Superior Court.
January 2007: NEWS files a lawsuit on behalf of the McCleary and Venema families to compel the state to abide by its constitutional “paramount duty” to full fund education for all children.
October 2005: The Network for Excellence in Washington Schools is founded by 11 original members: the Bellevue, Bainbridge Island, Edmonds, Omak, Chimacum and Pasco school districts along with the Washington State PTA, the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, the League of Women Voters of Washington, the Washington Education Association and the Washington State Special Education Coalition.
2005: SB 5441 forms Washington Learns, led by Governor Gregoire to study education system and make recommendations for improvements.
2004: State Academic Standards (HB 2195) Enacted by legislature, outlining how districts are to handle individual students not successful on any part of the WASL.
2004: I-884, aimed to increase education funding, fails at polls.
2004: Special Education Lawsuit filed by an alliance of 12 school districts.
2004: WASA Ample Funding Studies.
2001: Federal No Child Left Behind legislation passed.
2001: Passage of I-728 (class size reduction) and I-732 (cost of living increases for teachers).
1995: Special Education formula changed to provide a safety net as anticipated by Judge Doran’s special education decision.
1993: The Legislature passes the Education Reform Act, which creates rigorous performance-based standards for the basic education that every child in Washington is to be provided. Student mastery of the standards is to be tested by the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL). The Act also requires high school students to pass the WASL to prove they have mastered those new standards in order to graduate. But, despite these high stakes, the 1993 Act does not restructure the state funding system to pay the increased cost of providing students with the education necessary to meet these higher standards.
1987-88: Judge Doran issues a decision on the special education funding formula. He rules against the use of statewide averages to set an upper limit on a funding formula, unless there is a “safety net” for districts with above-average costs.
1983: Second Judge Doran Decision (“School Funding II” or “Seattle School District II”) expands the definition of “basic education” to include special education, bilingual education, remediation assistance and transportation.
1980: As a result of the court decisions, state increases its K-12 funding share to 84.3 percent.
1978: Washington’s State Supreme Court affirms Doran decision, finding in favor of the school districts. It requires the state legislature to provide ample funding for “basic education” as its highest priority, and directed the state to fund basic education with dependable and regular taxes. Forcing school districts to rely on levies to fund basic education was deemed unconstitutional.
1977: Basic Education Act of 1977 passed, defining basic education and creating a state education funding formula based on ratios of staff to students.
1977: First Judge Doran Decision (also known as “School Funding I” or “Seattle School District I”) finds for the school districts, stating:
“Under state law, the legislature has established a general and uniform system for the public schools as required by Article IX, Section 2…but it has not A) expressly defined basic education or determined the substantive contents of a basic program of education to which the children of this state are entitled in today’s society or B) provided a method for the fully sufficient funding of such education without reliance on special excess levies.”
1976: Seattle School District files suit against the state, to provide the “ample provisions” required by the Constitution.
1974: Washington Supreme Court fails to rule school funding system unconstitutional in a case brought by the Northshore School District and other districts. The nine justices split into three different opinions.
1889: Article IX of the Washington State Constitution states, “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders…” No other state has a stronger education mandate in its constitution.