first_imgOLYMPIA — The debate over money for education was heard at the Washington Supreme Court again on Tuesday. But this time it had to do with the state’s new commitment to public charter schools.A coalition of teachers, parents and community groups is suing the state to stop the new charter system from getting off the ground.The discussion Tuesday focused on what the state constitution says about the money to be used to pay for public schools. The central questions were: How many of those dollars are restricted to traditional public schools? How much leeway does the Legislature have in paying for the education of children whose parents decide to send them to charter schools?In September, the Supreme Court heard arguments concerning another state lawsuit on education funding. The court decided later that month that it would hold the Legislature in contempt for its lack of progress toward fixing the way the state pays for public education. The court has determined that lawmakers are not meeting their constitutional responsibility to fully pay for basic education and that they are relying too much on local tax-levy dollars to balance the education budget. Both that case, known as the McCleary decision, and this lawsuit focus on the same section of the Washington Constitution, Article IX. Based on the questions the justices asked, their decision on this case may focus on money as well.The justices kept coming back to the way some state dollars are restricted for use in common schools, which are known today as regular public schools. At the core of this case is the question: Do charter schools meet the constitutional definition of common schools?last_img

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