The Washington State Constitution states: “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.” It also requires that the system be uniform across the state and funded through regular and dependable sources. in 2007 The McCleary lawsuit was brought forward against the state for its failure to fulfill its paramount duty, and the State Supreme Court ruled in 2012 in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that the state was not meeting its educational obligation to the more than 1 million public school children in Washington.
A central issue in the court’s McCleary decision is the unconstitutional reliance on local levies, which are neither regular nor dependable, to fund basic education. As advocates for the highly capable students of Washington, we are working for full funding of the Highly Capable Program. The Legislature must pass a plan by the end of this session to comply with the State Supreme Court’s order.
Senate Republicans have offered one plan, SB 5607. House Democrats have just released their plan, HB 1843. Our initial readings of each plan finds that each falls short of ample funding for highly capable services. Each relies on an old, insufficient, and somewhat arbitrary formula for establishing eligibility for highly capable funding. We recommend the state follow the recommendations of the 2010 Highly Capable Program Technical Work Group and fund highly capable services for 5% of a district’s enrolled population, an amount close to historical levels of students served in Washington, and one that aligns with the recommendations of the National Association for Gifted Children