February 4, 2010 - Today, King County Superior Court Judge John Erlick ruled that Washington state is not amply funding basic education under the state Constitution. Judge Erlick's written opinion is available on the King County Web site. Below is a statement from State Superintendent Randy Dorn regarding the decision.
Today is a landmark day for the students of Washington.
Judge John Erlick rightfully claimed that the state is failing in its Constitutional duty to fund education. In his decision, he writes, “State funding is not ample, it is not stable, and it is not dependable.”
Erlick backed up his decision by precisely defining certain words – paramount, education, ample and all. The result of the state’s underfunding, he writes, is that our “public schools are failing to equip all children … with the basic knowledge and skills mandated by this State’s minimum education standards.”
As a former teacher, principal and current chair of the Quality Education Council – the implementation arm of last year’s Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2261 – I am painfully aware of the state’s underfunding of basic education. The bill is a first step, but it doesn’t go far enough to amply fund education or eliminate our reliance on local levies.
Now that Judge Erlick’s decision has been returned, we, as a state, need to fully fund basic education. For more than 30 years we’ve been heading down this road, and the time for action is now. Only when the Legislature acts affirmatively and addresses this issue can our students obtain the education we are morally and legally obligated to provide.
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