Everyone in Olympia is talking about how important education is these days. With a mandate from the state Supreme Court, the McCleary v. State ruling puts policymakers on the hook to find a way to fully fund basic education by 2018.
Some say this can be done with existing resources, some say it can be done through reform. One thing is clear: From the time children enter the classroom to when they join the workforce, investments beyond McCleary’s requirements are a must. And that will take more financial resources than the state has now. The state will need to raise taxes, close tax breaks and extend current taxes.
It’s not only our schools that have suffered in the face of round after round of spending cuts in recent years. Health care, nutrition, job training and other foundations of stable families and a strong economy have suffered, too. Any teacher will tell you that kids who are hungry, sick or in distress can’t learn.
In other words, the Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling is the floor of what it will take to invest in our kids and our state’s future. Not the ceiling.