When the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools was launched in 2005, few of us envisioned the historic influence the eventual McCleary case would have — not only on ultimately generating billions of dollars in state funding for K-12 public schools, but also on having the Washington State Supreme Court define what the “paramount duty” clause in our state constitution really means:
- “Paramount duty” means the state must amply fund our public schools first before anything else
- “Ample” means considerably more than just adequate, not merely what is left over
- “All” means all Washington students, not just those living in wealthy school districts or those who are easy to teach, and
- “Education” means the knowledge and skills students will need to succeed in today’s world, which the state established in Washington academic standards such as the Essential Academic Learning Requirements
To help ensure that these principles are upheld, the NEWS Board of Trustees has followed the advice of the NEWS members attending our Oct. 15 membership meeting and has agreed to keep our coalition intact indefinitely. The details remain to be decided regarding how we will continue to advance our mission, including how we will fund our work. However, the coalition we’ve built over the past 13 years will continue to serve as an organization singularly committed to bringing together all K-12 interests in a shared vision of what’s best for Washington schoolchildren.
As you may recall, the State Supreme Court noted that “experience will be the judge” of whether the State’s new K-12 funding is truly “ample”. NEWS intends to gather data and information on your actual “experience” and will use that information to monitor progress or regression in equitable, ample school funding and to plan whatever next steps might be necessary to assure that the State adheres to its constitutional paramount duty. Stay tuned in the coming months for more details on how we’ll move forward together.