Education funding in limbo with two weeks left in 2nd special legislative session

SEATTLE — As the infighting continues among state lawmakers, parents are losing faith in the state to fully fund public education with just two weeks left in the second special legislative session.

A fully funded public education means different things to different parents. The goal is as complicated as the budget that aims to fund it. But the two common issues that keep coming up for parents is equity and teacher pay.

There is a timely message on the back of parent Brenda Paull’s car.

“I am very concerned about the politics,” Paull said.

Paull says the political gridlock in Olympia is stunting progress in the classroom. In the state Capitol, Democrats and Republicans are not any closer to complying with the state Supreme Court's McCleary decision. In 2012, the court mandated Washington state fix a broken education system. Lawmakers have been wrestling with the giant problem since then.

“Two weeks is not a lot of time. This is a great big enormous task with huge ramifications so, no, I don’t think two weeks is enough time,” parent Monique Harris Jones said.

Both the Democrats and Republicans want to put billions more into education but disagree on how to pay for it.

“I wish teachers were to be paid a little bit more money, just pay teachers -- I think that’s the most important thing,” Jones said.

Retaining and recruiting highly skilled educators is vital to Jones. She points to Mercer Middle in South Seattle as an example.

“It was failing when I was in middle school age. Now it’s excelling to a point it’s churning out some of these extremely talented kids,” Jones said.

Other parents say fully funded education means every student gets a fair shake.

“Just the best shot at the best education, no matter if you are rich or poor,” parent Lisa Maynard said.

“I feel like we are kind of being cheated out of our education,” student Darnesha Green said.

Still, Green says, an education is what she makes it.

“It’s basically up to us,” Green said.

And up to lawmakers who are running out of time.

“I believe an educated population is the progress of this country,” Paull said.

Teachers in many districts across the state have made it clear to lawmakers that they could possibly go on strike if legislators do not come up with a plan in the next two weeks.