The policy debate on education has dominated headlines in 2017. The McCleary case captured the attention of lawmakers, press, and education activists who have wondered how the Washington Supreme Court would evaluate the legislature’s efforts to fully fund Basic Education in the Evergreen State. Control of the State House was split between parties – a Republican Senate and a Democratic House – forcing a long and arduous negotiation process to find a solution that would meet the demands of the Court.
Reaction to the final solution has been mixed, but there was significant progress made on investing more money in our students who need it most.
In November, however, two major events tipped the scales. First, a special election in the 45th legislative district put a new Democrat into the Washington Senate, flipping control from the political right to the left. As a result, a new Democratic chair was named to the K12 Education and Early Learning Committee, and the Democratic party now controls – by a hair – the House, the Senate, and the Governor’s seat.
Second, the justices of the Washington Supreme Court issued their ruling on whether the state’s efforts to fully fund Basic Education in Washington achieved their objective. Their decision was complicated. While the court agreed with the general mechanism and method of funding schools, they don’t think it’s happening soon enough. They’ve demanded that the legislature increase funding faster.
Needless to say, there’s been a lot going on.
The next legislative session starts on January 8, 2018, and it’ll be a short one (60 days versus 105). Although the political landscape has definitely been impacted by the McCleary ruling and the elections, whether the changes have improved policymakers’ ability to help Washington kids is undetermined.
When it comes to what should happen next, Stand for Children Washington is in favor of building off the progress that was made in 2017 to make real, tangible changes in schools that will help every kid. Since the dust is settling, policy expert and veteran of the Washington education debate Dave Powell will discuss the impact of November’s events during a public conference call on Monday, December 11th at noon. He’ll also paint the picture for what he sees as the way forward for improving public education in 2018.
Even for those just tuning in, the call should be an easy way to catch-up on the conversation around education in Washington and lay the groundwork for what we can expect in the new year. Despite the flurry of change and the tipping of scales, however, at least the goal of ensuring an equitable education for every kid in Washington has stayed the same.
Legislative Preview Conference Call with Dave Powell
Monday, December 11, 2017
12PM - 1PM