Letters to the Editor

Schools and lawsuits | Federal Way letters

FW schools and lawsuits

I found the June 24 letter on the Federal Way School District lawsuit against the state to be light on analysis and containing several significant leaps in logic.

Gary Robertson talks of being present for the oral arguements presented to the Supreme Court. His portrayal and analysis aside, the oral arguments are but a thin slice of the issues represented in the case, as submitted to the court in brief form. Given Robertson's portrayal of the case, I would be surprised if he took the time to read the briefs. He mixes the issues of adequate funding for basic education and the issue presented by the Federal Way School District as "fair funding." The last time I checked, Federal Way was not a party to the full funding of basic education lawsuit. He also tries to tie district deficits to the case, as if this is somehow proof that the state is not fully funding education, and not funding it on an equitable basis. This is ridiculous, as a district might face potential deficits for a variety of reasons: Fiscal irresponsibility comes to mind; overspending on items and programs that the state does not deem to be part of basic educational needs; reduced revenue, as the state was forced to cut initiative driven pay raises; excess spending on administration; etc.

In short, a district budget or overruns in spending proposals do not equal a mandate for basic education funding.

In this case, the issue as I see it boils down to the state asserting the need to address outcome, or education results based parity, while the district asserts that parity be based soley upon pure dollar provided equality.

The significant problem with the Federal Way School District lawsuit is that the district proposes to increase its share of a finite pool of money. Thus, some school districts would lose money, and other districts would gain. I understand their legal position, and I even agree with it to an extent. However, I would respect them more if they were taking part in the other lawsuit by a variety of districts that demands that the state fully fund basic education. By contrast, the Federal Way School District suit aims for the low-hanging fruit at the expense of other districts. Further, when addressing funding parity between districts, one must look far beyond the issues addressed by Federal Way. By example, how is the state supposed to address significant testing outcome discrepencies that might be the result of local demographic and psychographic differences? Testing is one way of measuring district by district education parity and outcome. Dollars applied is but one way to work toward leveling the outcome.

David Koenig, Federal Way

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