On Tuesday, July 19th 2016 Randy Dorn, the outgoing Washington State Superintendent of Schools, filed a lawsuit against seven (7) school districts. In the lawsuit he claims “it is illegal to use voter-approved levy money to supplement teacher’s salaries”.
He is angry that the State Legislature hasn’t resolved (to his satisfaction) the school funding the State Supreme Court says needs to be supplied by the State.
Mr. Dorn is NOT running for reelection this year. There are a number of candidates for the position. We reached out to them and asked for their thoughts on whether the lawsuit should have been done and whether they would have done the same. Following are the responses from the candidates who chose to answer. Not every candidate responded.
Superintendent Dorn is technically correct, but he is suing the school districts to blackmail the legislature into throwing more money at the school system. I saw a presentation showing that over the last few years, student population has risen 6% while funding has risen 78%. The presenter said that doubling the money would not improve education significantly.
Basic education consists of communication, computation, and civics. As a substitute teacher who teaches in a wide variety of schools, courses, and grade levels, I have seen students whose skills in the afore-mentioned three areas are very deficient, and the remedy is not more money but a curriculum that adequately addresses these subjects.
Mr. Dorn may be using these suits to finesse the legislature into passing an income tax or a capital gains tax. I oppose both. The lack of an income tax is an inducement for people to move to Washington, so we should never consider implementing it.
Schools in high cost of living areas may need to compensate their teachers more than those in low-cost of living areas in order to attract and retain quality personnel, so it is understandable that school districts would try to augment the basic statewide salary.
Mr. Dorn’s Washington State health and physical education standards that require teaching elementary students as young as Kindergarten about sexual behavior is irresponsible; some would even call it child abuse. Some say he should be sued for attempting to use the schools to corrupt our children.
Candidate for Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Randy Dorn should know about the deceit – McCleary case had no evidence that programs and/or schools are underfunded.
The legal industry as in NAIC did disservice to USA by giving any decision with NO EVIDENCE and as in David Vinson versus Federal Way Schools deliberating on ‘sufficient cause’ versus ‘probable cause.’One should access the documents how judges deliberated, who is ‘J. Schindler, e.g. versus Ann Schindler who always ran unopposed as many other judges.
Is ‘J’ a family member, what is his/her position…..
It is all about PRECEDENCE – and loss of rights.
As long as great judges and lawyers do not speak up, it continues. Those who do can be destroyed. Access how many times courts (e.g. WA State Supreme courts demands (orders) them to re-write the cases they put forth.
So, levies are citizens’ voice – isnt’ it clear to you that all our rights, voices, etc. are to be eliminated.
I encourage you to study the resources I provided and stop AGENDA 21.
So. After eight years in Olympia, the best SPI Randy Dorn has to say for his tenure in office is that everyone else has failed our schools. Obviously shifting the blame hasn’t worked. And so he is doubling down, now suing richer school districts for using levies to close the funding gap. He says he “hates to do it,” but the state constitution still is clear.
Indeed it is. Back in 1889, when our founders wrote and ratified that constitution, a public school was a simple drawing together of teachers, desks, and books. What is it now? Certainly not, as it was historically, an institution committed to teaching basic knowledge. Consider how many children, becoming dropouts, have not even learned to read and write.
The point is that dealing with that “equity problem” was entirely up to Mr. Dorn. Had he seriously wished to address it, he would have invited the legislature to start by eliminating at least half of the 451 positions in his own department, and then insisted that those funds be returned to classroom teaching. He rather defended the need for his bureaucracy, including its latest edict—straight from the Twilight Zone—that its studied conclusion of a basic education demands teaching kindergartners about gender equity. It is no wonder that “ample provision” in the constitution has been corrupted to the point where a lawsuit will never correct it.
The taxpayers should not be fooled. This lawsuit is another distraction from what really ails our schools.
Now is the time for bipartisan solutions, not more lawsuits.
As Superintendent, I would not have filed a lawsuit against local school districts for using local levy resources to support their educational programs at a time when we know the school system is underfunded, kids are lacking critical supports, and we have a massive teacher shortage. The intent of the lawsuit is understandable, but the risks are substantial.
School districts need to pay competitive salaries to attract and retain talent. It’s the Legislature’s responsibility to provide those funds – but until they complete the task of full funding – local levies are the only alternative revenue source available to districts. We already have a massive teacher shortage. Imagine how much worse it would be if local communities were prohibited from supporting their teachers.
To eliminate local control and not have a fully funded state system is a dangerous gamble that puts our schools and communities at greater risk. Let’s fully and equitably fund our schools before we ever consider telling communities that they can’t locally support their educators.
To achieve bipartisan solutions, we need an experienced education executive with a deep background in budget and policy! Somebody who truly believes in equitable funding for ALL districts, with a deep commitment to ensuring local control of staffing, programs, and educational delivery. We don’t need more control or unfunded mandates from the courts, the federal government or Olympia. We need to fully fund our schools and let local communities get to work!
On Tuesday, July 19, Superintendent Randy Dorn formally sued the State and seven of the state’s largest school districts, charging that teacher salaries are being funded illegally using levy monies. I believe his hope is to prove inappropriate use of funds, in order to demonstrate to the Legislature the damage that will be done when districts have to lay off teachers in order to be compliant with state law. After striving to no avail for several years to leverage past experience as a legislator to move the Legislature to action, Dorn is now attempting a new tactic.
In my opinion, filing suit is an irresponsible use of tax payer dollars. The Supreme Court has already ruled the State in contempt for not fully funding McCleary. An additional suit is duplicitous and will now penalize school districts, who have little to no power in this matter already. Should these large districts be found guilty of misusing levy dollars, teachers will be laid off, because there will not be sufficient funds available to pay bargained salary rates. If the State does not fully fund McCleary in the next year, these school districts will be left unable to pay their teachers a living wage, which will have implications for years to come.
As state superintendent, it is our obligation to build bridges between communities, to ensure equitable access to resources, to put students first. We must model collaboration and cooperation, not use our position to strong-arm others into action.
There are two different issues here. One is short-term, the other long term.
Short-term, parents should be concerned about what is available for their own children’s education, regardless of other people’s children elsewhere in the state and children in the future. Their responsibly is represent their own children right now, today. If you are living in a wealthier community (many poorer school districts have no local levy) this legal action will put your children in the same position as those in poorer areas – not good for your children today.
On the other hand the grown-ups in this society, including those with children in school, should also be looking at long term fairness for all children, not just what’s happening right now.
Randy is looking at the long-term. Financing for schools in this state should be equalized. There should be no local levies. School taxes should be distributed equally to each and every student throughout the State of Washington. Wealthier communities have a much larger real estate tax base per student than poorer communities. This results in a disproportionately great tax burden on the people in poorer communities and smaller absolute amounts of tax money to spent. A double whammy. This is fundamentally unfair and arguably immoral.
I support Randy’s action.