I'm following with great interest the battle between Washington's Supreme Court and it's legislature.
The Supreme Court has found the legislature in contempt by their failure to carry out an equitable funding system to support K-12 education. They have given the legislature until the end of the 2015 session to fix the problem.
Given the divisions in the legislature in Olympia it will be a surprise if the court won't be forced to step into the breach and come up with its own funding formula.
What makes this intriguing is that Oregon has a similar problem which the courts have not addressed. Since the passage of Measures #5 in 1990 and #50 in 1997 we have disinvested in K-12 for over 23 years. While the legislature in the 2013 session added $1 billion to K-12 - this doesn't make up for lost K-12 revenues for two generations. And it doesn't meet the goals of the Quality Education Model law passed in 1997 which has become an unfunded mandate.
The QEM has become the "official" if not "actionable" standard for Oregon's Quality Education Commission (EQC) assessments since 2001. Unfortunately, the funding challenges, noted below, have been buried in "edu-speak" by a commission "handled" by governors Kulongoski and Kitzhaber committed to "doing more with less." But despite gubernatorial spin control the facts come out while each QEC report gathers dust as those in the echo chamber away:
From EQC 2012 Report:
"The funding gap — the amount by which actual school funding falls short of the level required to meet Oregon’s educational goals continues to grow... the gap of $2.277 billion in 2011-13 is expected to grow 7% to $2.439 billion in 2013 -15 and another 7% to $2.609 billion in 2015 -17 if the state continues to base its funding on the Current Service Level..."
RAD: A "current services level of funding simply maintains the status quo which in effect means less spending over time given the increased need. It's also important to understand that costs to educate students increases at a higher rate than the CPI.
"...Oregon’s ambitious 40-40-20 education goals, which require that 100% of students graduate from high school, simply cannot be met without a significant closing of the funding gap along with a more productive use of resources..."
RAD: One can tweak the education system with better assessment tools, professional development and being more efficient BUT at the end of the day you get what you pay for - a Penny's or Macy's educational system. It's our choice!
EQC 2014 Report -
"...Despite the fact that education is the single largest area of spending in the state budget, education funding in Oregon is lower than the national average and has declined steadily and dramatically over the past two decades when adjusted for inflation. In the aftermath of two property tax limitations passed by Oregon voters, Oregon is now a low-tax state, and that makes funding of high-quality public services a challenge..."
This is why education reform efforts in Oregon since 1991 haven't closed the "achievement gap", why it has one of the highest drop out, school truancy rates in the US and where only 66% of entering freshmen graduate from high school. With larger class sizes, cuts in teachers and programs and budget changes from year to year - schools in Oregon haven't kept pace with increased enrollments and a more diverse school aged population.
What needs to happen in Oregon is something akin to what's happened in Washington, somebody needs to sue the legislature for failure to live up to its own mandate. This may be the only way to squeeze money out of corporate Oregon to pay it fair share in income taxes - from which entities like Intel and Nike get a free ride. The other options would be to impose a sales tax which won't pass muster in Oregon and/or to up the rate on individual taxpayers which would cause a taxpayer revolt.
Look at New Jersey did:
"In 1976, New Jersey's Supreme Court ordered public schools shut down for eight days over the summer after lawmakers failed to put more money into education. That crisis resulted in the adoption of a state income tax."
It's time for a progressive corporate income tax not a sham minimum corporate tax!
There is only one place to go for new revenue - from those who don't contribute a fair share but take money via SIPs and 30 year tax deals with the Governor - who has kicked the can on tax reform in 3 terms and shows no signs of doing anything different in his would be 4th term. It's time somebody like the Oregon Education Association (OEA) or Oregon School Board Association (OSBA) take on this fight but they are too compromised by their work in the Puzzle Palace.
Maybe an outsider like Greg Kafoury might take the legislature and governor to court. Hey Greg, as a fellow Whitty - sue the Salem power brokers - be like your hero Uncle Ralphie Nader!