EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s time to step up to help students

The state’s Constitution has this to say about public education: 1. “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.” (Article IX, Section 1)

The state’s Constitution has this to say about public education:

1. “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.” (Article IX, Section 1)

2. “The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools.” (Article IX, Section 2) But in a landmark decision about school financing last year, the state Supreme Court meant the uniformity applied to educational programs, not “the minutiae of funding,” according to the Northwest Education Law Blog.

This is what a King County Superior Court judge wrote earlier this year about No. 1 in ruling for the plaintiffs, who maintained the state is failing to meet this “paramount duty.”

“The court is left with no doubt that under the State’s current financing system the State is failing in its constitutional duty to make ample provision for the education of all children,” wrote Judge John Erlick. “This court is convinced that basic education is not being funded by a stable and dependable source of funds provided by the state.”

This is what I have to say about No. 1 and No. 2.

You’re all invited to the “Launching Lifetime Learning” benefit breakfast on April 26 sponsored by the Friends of Renton Schools Fund. The foundation’s goal is to raise $1.5 million over the next several months to go to ensuring Renton’s kids get the education they deserve to succeed.

Yes, it has come to this. The state Legislature hasn’t stepped up to the plate for decades to ensure our public (common) schools are amply funded. By the way, the state of Washington has appealed Erlick’s ruling to clarify it before the state Supreme Court.

In the meantime there are hundreds of Renton’s students at risk of losing special educational programs that are critical to their success in such basic endeavors as reading and math and to keeping them involved in school.

There’s nothing more basic than reading and math. The Legislature is obligated to write a check for whatever it takes – even enhanced programs – to ensure that basic skills are taught.

Unfortunately, that’s not happening today. Which brings me to No. 2 above.

Let’s face it. Educational programs are not uniform across the state. Richer districts can afford to pay for top-notch programs with their healthy property taxes and fundraisers and less affluent districts get stuck with programs that don’t meet the needs of every child.

Until the Legislature meets its obligations, at perhaps great expense to all of us, and properly defines basic education, that reality is not going to change.

That’s why hundreds of people have already reserved a spot at the April 26 breakfast to benefit the Renton School District. There’s still room.


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