State Supreme Court Again Rules Basic Education is State Duty

Marion Herbert's picture
Wednesday, January 11, 2012

“Cautiously optimistic” was the response of Issaquah (Wash.) School District Superintendent Steve Rasmussen to Jan. 5’s state Supreme Court ruling regarding school funding.In a 7-2 decision, the court ruled that the Legislature is not living up to its constitutional mandate to fund basic education.

The ruling came in the so-called NEWS lawsuit, filed in 2007 and named for the coalition of school districts, teachers unions and education advocates that led the suit. The Issaquah district supported the suit through an amicus brief filed with the court.

That group is known as the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools. It was asking the court to help enforce a 1978 ruling that also said the state was not living up to its paramount duty to pay for basic kindergarten through 12th-grade education.

In the conclusion of its ruling, the court majority opinion stated that Article IX, Section 1 of the state Constitution makes it the “paramount duty of the state to amply provide for the education of all children within its borders.”

“The state has failed to meet its duty under Article IX, Section 1 by consistently providing school districts with a level of resources that falls short of the actual costs of the basic education program,” the opinion further states.

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