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In our January 2015 newsletter, we share updates and info on what the contempt citation against the State might mean. We also offer insights on how the Supreme Court’s order in McCleary focuses clearly on funding, not reform, and how much new money is needed to meet the standard of “steady progress” toward ample funding for K-12 schools. Read the newsletter.
Many legislators say McCleary is about reform, not funding. But that’s not what the Supreme Court said. It unequivocally held that our State Constitution “confers on children in Washington a positive constitutional right to an amply funded education” – with ample meaning “considerably more than just adequate.” [173 Wn.2d at 483-484 & 518-519.] The State’s assurances to the McCleary court, moreover, confirm that this ample funding mandate requires more than $5 billion a year in new funding for our State’s schools.
See a chart to see what steady progress should really look like.
At the NEWS general membership meeting in September 2014, NEWS lead attorney Tom Ahearne reviewed elements of the Supreme Court ruling in McCleary and clarified the State’s claims that it has made progress for meeting the Court’s 2018 deadline for fully and amply funding K-12 public schools. View a PDF of Tom’s PowerPoint presentation.
In a unanimous ruling, the Washington State Supreme Court today found the Legislature in contempt for failing to heed numerous Court orders compelling lawmakers to show steady, real and measurable progress in fully funding K-12 education and to develop a plan to amply fund public schools by 2018. The Court accepted the State’s promise that the Legislature would comply in the upcoming 2015 session and, therefore, delayed issuing sanctions until after the session ends.
In a hearing on the McCleary case before the Washington State Supreme Court on Wednesday, Sept. 3, attorneys for NEWS and the State suggested two starkly different actions that justices might take to compel lawmakers to make meaningful progress to amply fund K-12 public schools.
Find the Legislature in contempt and impose “uncomfortable sanctions,” NEWS lead attorney Tom Ahearne urged.
“You can speak harshly to the Legislature. You can tell them you’re really serious,” Deputy Solicitor General Alan Copsey proposed.