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#1 Fully Fund Schools

#2 Cut Class Sizes in Half

#3 Fully Fund School Construction

#4 Provide 2 Years of Free College

#5 Provide Homes for All Homeless Children

#6 Lower Local Property Taxes

#7 End High Stakes Testing

#8 Increase the Graduation Rate

#9 Restore a Fair GED Test

#10 End Unfunded Mandates

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#12 Clean Up Olympia

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Answers to the Supreme Court McCleary Questions
On July 14, 2016, the Washington Supreme Court ordered the State to appear before it on September 7 2016 to provide specific answers to 8 questions the Supreme Court raised in their Order regarding how and when the legislature will comply with our State Constitution Paramount Duty to fully fund our schools. In this article, I provide my answers to these 8 questions. As the voters have a right to know where each candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction stands on these important issues, I encourage the other candidates for State Superintendent to do the same. If you are concerned about school funding, I hope you will share this article with other parents and teachers – and be sure to mail in your ballot by Tuesday, August 2nd.

Here is a link to the Supreme Court 2016 McCleary Order. It is only a couple of pages long. http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/publicUpload/Supreme%20Court%20News/OrderMcClearyv.StateofWashington071416.pdf

Here are a couple of slightly edited quotes from the Order: “Before making a decision on whether the State is in compliance, we will hear from the parties on precisely what the legislature has accomplished, what remains to be accomplished...The 2017 legislative session presents the last opportunity for complying with the State's paramount duty by 2018. At this juncture, seven years since enactment of ESHB 2261 and six years since enactment of SHB 2776, the State can certainly set out for the court and the people of Washington the detailed steps it must take to accomplish its goals by the end of the next legislative session. Therefore, by unanimous vote, the court directs the parties to appear before the court on September 7, 2016, for oral argument… where the State will be expected to provide specific and detailed answers to the following eight questions:

(a) whether the State views the 2018 deadline as referring to the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, to the end of the 2017-2018 fiscal year, to the end of 2018, or to some other date;

(b) whether E2SSB 6195, when read together with ESHB 2261 and SHB 2776, satisfies this court's January 9, 2014, order for a plan and, if not, what opportunities, if any, remain for the legislature to provide the plan required by that January 9, 2014, order;

(c) the estimated current cost of full state funding of the program of basic education... including, but not limited to, the costs of materials, supplies, and operating costs; transportation; and reduced class sizes for kindergarten through third grade and all-day kindergarten, with the costs of reduced class sizes and all-day kindergarten to include the estimated capital costs;

(d) the estimated cost of full state funding of competitive education staff salaries, including the costs of recruiting and retaining competent staff;

(e) the components of basic education, if any, the State has fully funded in light of the costs specified above;

(f) the components of basic education, including basic education staff salaries, the State has not yet fully funded in light of the costs specified above, the cost of achieving full state funding and how the State intends to meet its constitutional obligation to implement its plan of basic education through dependable and regular revenue sources by that deadline;

(g) whether this court should dismiss the contempt order or continue sanctions; and

(h) any additional information that will demonstrate to the court how the State will fully comply with article IX, section 1 by 2018.”

Here are my answers to the eight questions raised by our State Supreme Court:

#1 What is the exact 2018 Deadline?
(a) whether the State views the 2018 deadline as referring to the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, to the end of the 2017-2018 fiscal year, to the end of 2018, or to some other date;


There has been a lot of debate about what the deadline is for the State legislature to honor our State Constitution. The plaintiffs have claimed that it is the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year. Some in the legislature have claimed that they do not need to fully fund the schools even by the 2018- 2019 school year. My view is that even a one day violation of a student’s right to an education is a severe violation of our state constitution. Imagine a reckless driver going 75 MPH in a 25 MPH school zone – endangering the lives of students. The reckless driver then goes before the court and tells the judge they will start obeying the speeding laws 6 or 7 years from now. The court should not accept any delay in obeying the law. Justice delayed is justice denied. Students are harmed much more by being forced to attend the most over-crowded and under-funded schools in the nation than they are by a reckless driver. Our kids have only one chance at a quality education. For the legislature to claim they can delay funding schools past September 2017 is reckless, irresponsible, immoral and against the clear language of the Washington State Constitution.

02

As a practical matter, the legislature must plan and provide for state funding months and years before it is actually needed. For example, the 2017 legislative session, also called the long session, is supposed to create a fiscal plan for the two year period that begins on July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2019. This includes both the September 2017 to June 2018 school year and the September 2018 to June 2019 school year. However, this fiscal spending plan is based on a revenue plan that must precede spending. Any tax changes from the 2017 legislative session, whether they are property tax changes or other tax changes, would not go into effect until January 2018 – to late to provide funds for the September 2017 school year. Schools would need to be built prior to September 2017. Since it takes at least one year to build a new school, the construction would need to have been started in the summer of 2016 and teachers would need to be hire by July 2017. Therefore it is already too late for the State to comply with the McCleary Order by September 2017 regardless of what the 2017 legislature does!

#2 Is the Plan to Create a Plan (aka Senate Bill 6195) is a real plan?
(b) whether E2SSB 6195, when read together with ESHB 2261 and SHB 2776, satisfies this court's January 9, 2014, order for a plan and, if not, what opportunities, if any, remain for the legislature to provide the plan required by that January 9, 2014, order;


03

I testified against Senate Bill 6095, the plan to create a plan, because it is a worthless fake “kick the can down the road” exercise that pretends that the legislature does not know what it costs to fund schools – even though the legislature has had more than six previous planning committees answer the exact same questions that the new committee is asking.

The previous plan completed in 2012 did a detailed analysis of the cost to pay for House Bill 2261 and Senate Bill 2776 and concluded that it would cost about $6 billion in operating costs per year. This included one billion to restore teacher pay and one billion to replace illegal local levies. But it did not include the cost of school construction. Since our state has a $30 billion school construction backlog with half of our schools not meeting either the health code or earthquake standards, providing every student with a safe and healthy school would cost an additional $3 billion per year for the next 10 years. This brings the total known cost up to more than $9 billion per year – essentially doubling school funding – which is exactly what I have proposed doing throughout my campaign. This would also address the Class Size Initiative which is also part of state law and basic education. See page 49 of the following report. http://www.k12.wa.us/Compensation/CompTechWorkGroupReport/CompTechWorkGroup.pdf

My proposal is to ask the Supreme Court to repeal all 700 illegal tax breaks to wealthy corporations (which are contrary to several sections of our state constitution).

04

This would provide not only provide an additional $9 billion annually to to fully fund our schools but also provide every student in our state with a free college education and/or vocational training AND also end child homelessness.

Sadly, no other candidates for Superintendent have any plan to provide the $9 billion annually to fully fund our schools. In fact, no one in the legislature has any plan to provide more than a small fraction of the $9 billion in additional revenue needed to fund school operation and construction. So the answer to whether Senate Bill 6095 would meet the McCleary obligation is No.

05

The State will claim that the legislature will find a way to fund our schools in the 2017 session. But the fact is that Olympia is completely owned by wealthy corporations so there is no chance that they will repeal the billions in tax breaks for wealthy corporations. Instead, they will likely be completely gridlocked, fake their way through several “do-nothing” special sessions and then present yet another fake plan to the Supreme Court. And our kids will be forced to deal with yet another year of the lowest funded most over-crowded schools in the nation.

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#3 What is the cost of full state funding for public schools?

(c) the estimated cost of full state funding of basic education... including, but not limited to, the costs of materials, supplies, and operating costs; transportation; and reduced class sizes for kindergarten through third grade and all-day kindergarten, with the costs of reduced class sizes and all-day kindergarten to include the capital costs;

As noted above, a 2012 highly detailed study estimated that the cost was an additional $6 billion in operating costs. The study did not include capital school construction costs. Adding $3 billion per year for the next 10 years, the total additional revenue needed is more than $9 billion per year.

#4 What is the additional cost needed to end the teacher shortage?

(d) the estimated cost of full state funding of competitive education staff salaries, including the costs of recruiting and retaining competent staff;

Washington state has the 4th lowest paid and most overworked teachers in the nation. The 2012 study estimated that it would cost at least one billion additional dollars just to restore teacher pay to what it was in the 1990s. Hiring additional teachers and staff to lower class sizes as required by the Class Size Initiative would require several more billion dollars.

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#5 What has the legislature done since the January 2012 McCleary Order?

(e) the components of basic education, if any, the State has fully funded in light of the costs specified above;

Many in the legislature claim that the legislature has put billions of additional dollars into funding our schools in the past four years. But all the legislature really did was move money around from one account to another. The fact is that since the January 2012 Supreme Court order the number of students in our schools has increased by more than 32,000 students while the number of teachers declined by more than 1,000 teachers!

08


Every year, our school funding crisis has gotten worse and worse and class sizes have gotten higher and higher. So the honest answer to the Supreme Court’s question is that the legislature has not done anything at all to improve school funding in Washington state.

#6 How the legislature will come up with the additional $9 billion from dependable revenue sources? (f) the components of basic education, including staff salaries, the State has not yet fully funded in light of the costs specified above, the cost of achieving full state funding and how the State intends to meet its constitutional obligation to implement its plan of basic education through dependable and regular revenue sources;

Currently, the legislature is under-funding our schools by at least $9 billion per year. This includes one to two billion dollars in illegal, unfair and unconstitutional local levy funds – which have creates a system of rich school districts that can pass school levies and poor school districts that cannot pass school levies. The $9 billion dollar question is how the legislature will suddenly come up with the needed $9 billion in 2017 when they have done next to nothing during the past four years.

The only solution to this crisis is to understand where the robbery went in the first place. Since 1996 (the last time school funding in Washington state was above the national average), the legislature has passed an additional 300 tax breaks costing our schools $16 billion per year in lost revenue. It is only by repealing these illegal tax breaks to wealthy corporations that we have any hope at all of restoring school funding. But the problem is that the legislature is owned by these very wealthy corporations. So there will be no reductions in corporate tax breaks.

So it will be up to the Superintendent of Public Instruction to use Article 3, Section 22 of the State Constitution to go around the legislature and directly to the Supreme Court asking them to declare these tax breaks to be unconstitutional. If I am elected, I will do this during my first week in office.

09

Sadly, none of the other candidates are willing to take on the corporate welfare that is preventing us from fully funding our schools. So if I am not elected, our kids will be forced to endure yet another 4 years of the lowest funded most over-crowded schools in the nation.

#7 Should the Supreme Court continue sanctions?
(g) whether this court should dismiss the contempt order or continue sanctions;


The Supreme Court should not only continue the sanctions, they should state that if the legislature does not fully fund our schools by July 1, 2017, that the Court will declare all 700 corporate tax breaks to be null and void.

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#8 Additional Evidence that the legislature will NOT comply with their Paramount Duty to fully fund or schools? (h) any additional information that will demonstrate to the court how the State will fully comply with article IX, section 1 by 2018.

There are a whole host of reasons to conclude that the legislature will NEVER comply with their Paramount Duty to fully fund our schools. First, despite a direct order to pay a fine of $100,000 per day deposited into a fund dedicated for education, the legislature refused to pay the fine. Second, the legislature responded to the Class Size Initiative by delaying it for several years. Third, even after the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the legislature failed to comply with their Paramount Duty to fund our schools, the legislature passed the second Boeing Tax Break - the largest tax break in the history of the planet. Fourth, since 2012, the legislature has continued to pass many tax breaks while no one in the legislature even submitted a single bill to fully fund our public schools. Fifth, the legislature has failed to fully fund our schools for more than 20 years – 1996 being the last time school funding in Washington state was above the national average.

But perhaps the strongest evidence that our current legislature has no intention of ever funding our schools is a line buried on about Page 200 of every annual appropriations bill passed since 2012 - prohibiting the State Health Department from even testing whether schools are meeting health and safety standards. The leaders of the legislature know that half of our schools are more than 50 years old and do not meet health code standards. Half of our schools do not meet earthquake code standards. Given that we have more than 2000 schools, this means that more than 1000 schools in Washington state are not a safe, healthy place for our kids. At an average replacement cost of $30 million per school, it would take more than $30 billion to rebuild these 1,0000 dangerous schools.

So what is the legislature’s response to this crisis? Every year for the past four years, they have included a line in the annual Appropriations bill prohibiting the State Department of Health from documenting the health and safety problems of our schools. Even worse, our current State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Randy Dorn, is also aware of this Code of Silence and has actively helped to keep parents in the dark about the dangerous state of our public schools.

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What will happen when the legislature fails to fully fund our schools in 2017?
The current Superintendent has submitted two briefs to the Court. The first one asked the Court to shut down our public schools being July 1, 2017. The second asked the Court to declare one billion dollars in local levies to be unconstitutional – thus depriving local school districts of one billion dollars at a time when they are already grossly underfunded. If the Court takes either of these actions, it will severely harm our students when the real culprits are the State legislature and the wealthy corporations who use illegal tax breaks to rob our schools of billions of dollars.


More important, closing schools or depriving them of funds is not likely to solve the school funding crisis. The only action that will solve the school funding crisis is for the Court to declare billions in tax breaks for wealthy corporations to be unconstitutional.

Sadly, parents in Washington state seem to be asleep on the importance of this election for State Superintendent and the role they could play in restoring full funding for our schools. With only three days left for parents to mail in their ballots, only 15% of ballots have been received. At this rate, it is possible that only one in four of Washington’s four million registered voters will turn in their ballots. I therefore urge you to email every parent and teacher you know and encourage them to mail in their ballot by Tuesday August 2nd.

As always, I look forward to your questions and comments.

Regards,David Spring M. Ed.

Candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction
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