Washington state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn is calling on the Legislature to add more than half a billion dollars for K-12 education over the next two years.
Dorn says that’s what’s needed to meet the state Supreme Court’s mandate to dramatically increase public school funding, known as the McCleary ruling.
Dorn has been a vocal critic of this Legislature’s education spending.
When the current biennial budget was signed in June, and less than $1 billion had been added for public education, Dorn accused legislators of having avoided what he called “the hard questions and major decisions” needed to fulfill the McCleary ruling demands.
"Superintendent Dorn is really disappointed in what the Legislature did," said Nathan Olson, the superintendent's spokesman. "He’s going to continue to hit the bricks, so to speak, to make sure that kids get the funding that they deserve, that they need.”
Olson said the $544 million the superintendent is seeking is only what the Legislature’s advisory council said was needed to comply with McCleary — a down payment to get the state on track to amply fund public education by 2018.
Dorn is also asking Washington lawmakers to change the state’s new teacher evaluation law to make students’ state test scores a required component of teacher evaluations – not optional, as it is now.
That’s a necessary step for the state to insure that it maintains its federal No Child Left Behind waiver and thus $38 million in federal funding.
But Washington Education Association, the state teachers’ union, says not so fast.
"We’ve made tremendous changes to the teacher evaluation system in our state. We’re implementing that right now," said WEA spokesman Rich Wood, adding he'd like to see that work continue without new changes.
Wood said what the Legislature should focus on instead is fully funding public education.