Friday, August 12, 2016

Owed to Washington state students: $100,000 a day in fines for a year without school funding

Owed to Washington state students: $100,000 a day in fines for a year without school funding:

Owed to Washington state students: $100,000 a day in fines for a year without school funding

It’s enough to provide a backpack full of school supplies for every child in the state



Saturday, Aug. 13, marks one year since the Washington State Supreme Court decided that if the state legislature refused to properly fund public education, there would be consequences.

It issued a fine—$100,000 for every day of inaction, or $36.5 million for the year — that has gone unpaid ever since.

Thirty-six and a half million dollars is a lot of money in public education. While the legislature has dithered over how to reform the state’s education funding system, it has racked up debts that could cover a year of schooling for almost 3,000 children. Or 54,000 days of instruction. Or a backpack full of school supplies for every student in the state.

The fine has added a new layer of urgency to a case, called McCleary v. State of Washington, that first challenged the constitutionality of the state’s education funding system over six years ago.  The Supreme Court heard the case in June 2011, and it issued a decision the following January. After two years of little progress, the justices ordered the legislature to produce a plan for fully funding education by April 2014. The deadline came and went, and by September, the court had found the state in contempt — a step unusual enough to merit an article in the Harvard Law Review. Eleven months later, on August 13, 2015, the justices added some teeth to their order with the daily fine.

Related: Column Study calculates low-income, minority students get the worst teachers in Washington State

“While the legislature has dithered over how to reform the state’s education funding system, it has racked up debts that could cover a year of schooling for almost 3,000 children. Or 54,000 days of instruction.  Or a backpack full of school supplies for every student in the state.”Owed to Washington state students: $100,000 a day in fines for a year without school funding:


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