In McCleary v. State of Washington, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that because the state government is not providing sufficient education funding, it is violating the state’s constitution. Further, the Court found that inadequate funding from the state is leading to inequalities and disparities between wealthy and poor school districts, because some districts are only able to raise a fraction of the money through local levies as other districts, despite having a higher local levy tax rate.
The Court has ordered the state to address this issue by increasing education funding and reducing reliance on local levies to pay for teacher salaries and other basic education essentials. Estimates say that complying with the Court’s decision will require the state to spend an additional 1.5 – 2 billion dollars more per year on public education.
Resources that will help clarify the debate over education funding:
Glossary of Key Education Terms
Definition of Basic Education
See how much Washington state spends per student in your district
Side-by-Side of Education Funding Proposals
Local Levy FAQ
LEV’s Perspective on the Latest Supreme Court McCleary Response
Our view on McCleary opportunities:
Rethinking Our Education System
Teachers: The Most Important Part of Our Education System
Every Student Needs an Effective Teacher
Great Teachers Need Great Preparation
Student Supports, an Integral Component of Basic Education
Presentations on education funding by the LEV Policy Team:
TVW: League of Education Voters McCleary Presentation (November 18, 2016)
- I Can See McClear-ly Now: A look at the education funding debate in Washington, gives you an in-depth look at how we got where we are today.
- We Can Work it Out: A long and winding road to funding basic education, covers whether our current education funding structure is fair and whether the system benefits all kids.
LEVinar on The McCleary Task Force: What to Expect Archived Recording | Presentation Slides
McCleary Education Funding Task Force Duties and Responsibilities
Senate Bill 6195, which created the Education Funding Task Force
Our view on NPR Education’s School Money series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
A summary of our November 2016 field trip to California, Education Funding Takeaways from California
The Washington State Supreme Court issued a devastating ruling late on Friday afternoon, prior to a 3-day weekend and after charter schools had already started their year, declaring the way the state funds public charter schools unconstitutional.
The ruling puts the immediate future of over 1200 students in jeopardy. In addition to public charter schools, the ruling may impact tribal compact schools, Running Start, and other programs that do not fit into the Court’s narrow view of what can be funded with education dollars. Many strategies aimed at addressing the state’s achievement and opportunity gaps are at risk.
The parents with children in these schools, and the advocates who support them, will continue to work to ensure these schools stay open now and into the future.
- Teams of supporters are reviewing the Court ruling and preparing a legal response.
- Options for keeping these schools open are being explored.
- Advocates are asking the Governor and legislators to act immediately to rectify the situation.
You can help by contacting your legislator and asking them to support a technical fix to ensure public charter schools are funded and other investments aimed at closing gaps continue now and into the future.
Today, the Washington State Supreme Court issued their response on the Legislature’s progress in funding basic education.
The Court recognized the Legislature’s record progress in funding an education continuum and called out their work in fully funding transportation, materials, supplies, and operating costs, as well as their progress in partially funding K–3 class-size reductions and full-day kindergarten. The Court also called out the areas where the Legislature did not make significant progress, namely in funding facilities for class-size reduction and full-day kindergarten, compensation for teachers and other school personnel, and reliance on local levies to provide basic education.
Effectively immediately, the Court is fining the state $100,000 a day until a plan to fully fund basic education is implemented, which will go into a special fund reserved for basic education. The Court also encouraged Governor Jay Inslee to call the Legislature back for a special session. (more…)
The Washington State Legislature recently submitted a report to the Supreme Court detailing their progress in fully funding basic education as ordered in McCleary v. Washington. In anticipation of this report, both The Olympian and The Seattle Times continued their solid coverage of Washington education by publishing strong editorials on the topic.
In addition, The Seattle Times asked lawmakers, the League of Education Voters (LEV), and the Washington Education Association to weigh in on what they think is still needed.
LEV will be focusing on the Supreme Court this summer by profiling each of the nine justices.
After one long legislative session (followed by three special sessions), Governor Inslee signed Washington’s 2015–2017 state budget into law late in the evening on June 30, averting a government shutdown by less than an hour. An unprecedented series of events ultimately delayed sine die until today, but with the true end of our historically long 2015 legislative session at hand, we take a moment to reflect.
What we see in this budget is a more comprehensive investment in education than at any other time in the state’s history. Through their strong investments in public education across the spectrum, early learning through postsecondary, the Legislature has given all Washington’s students more hope for their future.
The League of Education Voters has long argued that a child’s education should be a continuum with seamless transitions from early learning through higher education. We have worked with partners around the state in pursuit of that vision, including with the Cradle through College Coalition. It is gratifying to see the Legislature following through with strategies and investments that support students at all ages. (more…)
CEO Chris Korsmo was interviewed by Kiro 7’s Porter Essex regarding the McCleary contempt ruling on September 11.
The League of Education Voters’ CEO Chris Korsmo was interviewed by Kiro 7’s Essex Porter about the Washington State Supreme Court’s contempt ruling in the McCleary v. State of Washington case yesterday.
Regarding the contempt ruling, Chris said: “We know the opportunity, we know the urgency, we know the obligation. Let’s give the state the opportunity to make good on their word to do something this session.”
While the League of Education Voters was not a plaintiff in the McCleary case, the foundation did file an amicus brief in January 2012.
Watch the entire clip on the Kiro 7 website.
While our State Supreme Court and Legislature quibble over missed education funding deadlines, Washington state’s 10-year achievement gap continues to grow in all grade levels in reading and math.
At the League of Education Voters, we support an ample, equitable, and stable education funding plan. When the re-definition of “basic education” (upon which McCleary v. Washington is based) was developed in 2009, we advocated, unsuccessfully, that the definition should also include early learning and higher education.
We need a definition of basic education that puts students and their learning at the center.
The current definition of basic education doesn’t meet the needs of today’s students, let alone the needs of our future students.
We can and must do better for Washington’s students.
The League of Education Voters (LEV) is a non-partisan, nonprofit statewide organization working to improve public education from early learning through higher education with ample, equitable, and stable resources.