School financing and education business concept as a group of children drawing a hopscotch game on a floor with dollar signs as a symbol of student loans and paying for schooling fees.

Former Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna has written an important piece on education funding over at his website Smarter Government Washington. With the Legislature continuing its work on the remaining issues in the McCleary case, McKenna points out a “creeping problem” that still must be addressed – our state’s over-reliance on dollars raised locally from property taxes (levies) to pay for basic education.

This piece-meal system places property-rich districts at a distinct advantage over property-poor ones, because the former can raise and invest substantially more in basic education than the latter. Over time, these funding gaps have grown to the point of creating a ZIP code driven education funding system that is profoundly unfair.

From McKenna:

Allowing this disparity to grow is like saying we’re OK with some kids’ educational opportunities being limited by their ZIP code. Article IX of the state constitution calls for a “uniform system of public schools.” How can the system be uniform when the money available for basic education varies significantly by district? It’s profoundly unfair.

No money for new textbooks? Sorry, Johnny, you should live in a wealthier school district.

Read more in Smarter Government here.