Local educators weigh in on Supreme Court’s education ruling

Many educators in Kent say they can't wait until 2018 to receive the funds they need to properly educate their students.

Many educators in Kent say they can’t wait until 2018 to receive the funds they need to properly educate their students.

“Our teachers are doing they best they can with the limited resources they are given, but any more cuts schools will hurt our students’ education,” said Antonio Morales, Mill Creek Middle School principal. “We can’t sit back and say, ‘well this funding will come in 2018,’ we need to be proactive now.”

This discussion follows a decision made Jan. 5 by the Washington State Supreme Court, who ruled in favor of a lower court’s finding that the government is failing to meet its constitutional duty to fully fund basic education for all the state’s children. The justices said they could monitor the Legislature to help facilitate progress toward full funding, but the ruling did not require lawmakers to take specific or immediate action.

Instead, the court deferred to legislation already on the books from as late as the 1978 to as current as 2007, which gives the state until 2018 to provide enough funding to meet its own definition of “basic education.”

“I find it interesting how long this conversation has been in our court system and we’ve continued to see increased cuts in our funding every year,” said Kathy Torres, math teacher at Mill Creek. “One of the main reasons we can’t wait until 2018 to get proper funding for education is that we need to consider the students we have now. They will be graduated from high school in 2015 and they will be 21 years old in 2018. What about their education?”

Torres said many teachers feel they don’t have the necessary items they need in the classroom.

“We are continuously being asked to do more with less funds and then allocate those funds to specific areas,” She said. “Most teachers, not just in Washington sate, but across the country just don’t have the educational resources we need to keep up with the changing times.”

Torres pointed out the school has to rely on local levies to keep their technology up-to-date.

“We are blessed to be able to provide each of our students with their own personal laptops that help them succeed academically,” Morales interjected. “But, we can’t rely on those local levies to keep us going, since eventually our taxpayers will get sick of it.”

Many principals and teachers stated any amount of cuts will have negative impacts on their schools.

“I do not know what the impact on the cuts will have on our school at this time, but any cuts to education hurt children and our future,” said Sherilyn Ulland, Kent Elementary principal.

Some educators feel their schools are operating well despite cuts and the long wait for education support.

“In a perfect world,us educators would get all we believe we need; but times are tough, not just for educators, but all around the state,” said Kentwood High School’s principal Doug Hostetter. “So I believe that when the economy picks up, tax revenues will pick up and schools will start receiving the money they need.”

Hostetter used the current state SAT scores to demonstrate the success of students despite cuts. Last year, Washington state Kindergarten through 12th grade students received an average score of 524 for reading, 532 for math, 508 for writing and 23 for composite, according to the OSPI website.

“I think that education is a large system and in any large system there are inefficiencies,” Hostetter said. “The success of our students academically is due to this lack of funding because it’s created opportunities for educators to think of different ways to provide services to our students. I believe our public schools are doing more with less.”

Hostetter stated he hoped there were no more education cuts and wishes the state could provide more money to schools.

“It is frustrating, but I think the legislature needs to get away from looking at money and ask themselves, ‘what is it we want for our students?’ Maybe we don’t need more money, maybe we just need to look at things differently,” Hostetter said.

An example Hostetter gave, was to send students out into the workforce to earn class credit rather than hiring someone from the outside to teach a specific class.

“That’s the kind of thinking we all need to have,” he said. “Let’s restructure our education so perhaps we don’t have to throw in so much money.”




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