On Other Blogs: School Funding, March on Washington, Syria, and Award-Winning Tweets

Our daily roundup (and commentary) ...

By Josh Feit August 28, 2013

1. The Tacoma News Tribune sums up a progress report that state legislators sent to the Washington State Supreme Court this week detailing how the state responded to the Court's McCleary decision.

The 2012 McCleary decision said the state was failing its Constitutional duty to fund K-12 education and mandated that the state start meeting its financial obligation.

The TNT has the good and the bad:

The report describes how the state is now kicking in more for school districts' basic operating costs such as books and supplies, increasing state funding per student in that category to more than $781 over two school years, up from $560.

But the report says lawmakers would have to triple the additional funding in that category by the following school year, 2015-2016, to meet a deadline they set for themselves in 2010.

Some more basics: The legislature added $982 million to K-12 over the last budget, an 11.4 percent increase, and a 6.7 percent increase (the real extra money) over what they would've spent just to maintain the status quo. The 4.7 percent difference simply reflects the increase they would have automatically made anyway to account for inflation and regular increased costs, such as more students. The total spend: $15.2 billion this biennium vs. $13.6 last biennium.

Good enough for the Court? We'll see. They decide—after the McCleary plaintiffs weigh in with a report of their own next month—in December.

Marbury vs. Madison constitutional crisis brewing?

I will say this: after the Court's decision came down last year, non-partisan legislative staff crunched the numbers and recommended that to comply with the Court, the state should spend: $89.3 million more on full-day kindergarten; $141.6  million extra on school buses; $597.1 million on basic materials and operating costs; and $219 million more on elementary class-size reduction.

Here's what they ended up doing respectively: $89.8 million (check plus);  $131.7 million ($10 million shy); $374 million (more than $200 million shy); and $103.6 million (more than $100 million shy.)

The comparison may be slightly unfair because the original numbers were based on different estimates and assumptions.

One criticism of the extra $982 million noted in the report is that much of the money ($521 million) came from one-time fixes and fund transfers, defying the Court's mandate for stable funding. The trickery led to an award-winning tweet from the TNT's Jordan Schrader, though: "Transfers, raids & 1-time fixes- what's more dependable in than those?"


2. The story of the day, obviously, is the MOW50 celebration in D.C. and President Obama's speech at the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his historic speech 50 years ago today (coverage everywhere).

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a personal hero, also spoke 50 years ago today on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as the then-23-year-old youth-wing leader of MLK's movement.

To commemorate the anniversary, I like this historical anecdote and post from StudentActivism.net, titled: "Thirteen Great Lines That Were Cut From John Lewis' Speech to the March on Washington." 

 3. RollCall has the list of U.S. reps, including one from Washington state, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA, 7), who've signed on to a mosty Republican letter warning President Obama to seek congressional approval before taking any military action against Syria.



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