Journal of Educational Controversy

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Friday, June 9, 2017

Budget in Crisis - The Latest on Funding Public Education in the state of Washington


In 2012 the Washington state Supreme Court ruled in the McCleary decision that the state constitution is being violated. K-12 public schools in Washington are underfunded in direct violation of the state’s constitution which states that “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.[1] 2014 found the issue still far from being resolved and the justices held the state in contempt for failure to progress with legislation that will fully fund public schools. In 2015 the court added a $100,000 per day fine against the state. Instead of passing legislation that would resolve this issue in 2016, Senate Bill 6195 was passed. This bill set up a task force to make recommendations in the 2017 legislative session, after collecting data on school salaries and levies. This fine currently exceeds $55 million. Tom Ahearne, the lead attorney in the McCleary v. State of Washington case, spoke on Wednesday, May 3 at the Bellingham High School Performing Arts Center, and explained that the fine isn’t real money. The legislature will never actually pay this amount and it is more a symbol of the weight of the issue and the seriousness of the court’s decision. Ahearne laid out the possibilities we have in store for us in the near future. If the legislature fully funds K-12 public education then we all simply move on. If they fail to “amply” fund education then the courts will need to use a stronger sanction than the moderate contempt fine. The next sanctions could be closing schools or threatening to dock legislators’ salaries.

The court ruling states that the legislature must have fully implemented funding by September 1, 2018. This means the legislature has until the final adjournment of the 2017 legislative session, which ends on June 30, 2017. So, the current legislative session has three weeks to complete a budget that fully funds public K-12 education in the State of Washington. This is something they have been unable to do for nearly five years. Check back on June 30, 2017 for an update.


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[1] Article XI Education

Monday, June 5, 2017

New Issue of the Journal of Educational Controversy Now Online


Volume 11 of the Journal of Educational Controversy is now online with a focus on the question:  Is “Best Practices” Research in Education Insufficient or even Misdirected?

This invited issue is dedicated to the life and scholarly work of John G. Richardson.  Dr. Richardson is professor emeritus at Western Washington University and the associate editor of the Journal of Educational Controversy since its beginning in 2006.  He has conceptualized the theme for this issue and has written an introductory essay that places the invited articles within a conceptual framework that raises deeper questions about what it means to make claims to understand something.

 As one of authors wrote about Dr. Richardson’s legacy, “In the 21st century changes are occurring so rapidly that the educational field barely has time to process what has already come down the pike, let alone what is coming. It takes a scholar of courage, with both historical awareness and foresight, to raise important, salient and far-reaching questions about what has come, is on the horizon and might be on the way. This is especially the case in an academic context that appears to be narrowing in its toleration for asking difficult questions and generating meaningful dialogue around them.”

 We hope that this issue will initiate a wide discussion around some pivotal and fundamental questions about the ways we conduct the research that shapes our understanding of schooling in America.

 The controversy addressed in the issue is:

For decades the research agenda for identifying “best practices” for reforming education has been structured around testing hypotheses of either effectiveness or prediction of outcomes.  Within the quantitative approach researchers have used a variety of traditional causal and correlational designs to examine relationships between specific measurable variables. Researchers have also used qualitative approaches to examine implementation of such practices in more depth through observations in the field, interviews with students and educators, and content analysis of curriculum and student work.
However, educational research seeking the best practices can often ignore or minimize the mechanisms that generate the phenomenon studied.  From school-to-prison and mass incarceration, racial-gender disproportionality in special and vocational education, to school dropout rates, correlations abound, but they don't by themselves explain the phenomenon.  Good intentions frame much educational research, but can over-dramatize correlations at the expense of deeper explanation.
This volume seeks papers that exemplify the "paradoxical" nature of educational research.   Submissions should focus on two things: the intentions or motivations that (often) inform educational research, but where the results or outcomes are unintended or unanticipated.  We seek papers that go beyond descriptions of educational issues, however detailed, as well as beyond explanations that repeat initial intentions or motivations.  Papers should reveal and discuss the specific forces and mechanisms that generate the topic of analysis, be it educational practices (teaching, assessment), outcomes (achievement, court decisions, enrollments) or events (protests and emergent social movements, school shootings, drop outs) that are the subject of the paper.