Many, if not most, Bellevue College students have experienced Washington State’s K-12 education first-hand, and would be well equipped to compile a lengthy list of the grievances they’ve garnered against a criminally underfunded statewide common school system. Lack of materials, lack of extra-curricular activities, crowded classrooms and malcontent staff, are just a few things that would be commonly noted. This, in the face of a state constitution that legally requires an education that would equip any child in its borders to stand tall in the current economy, regardless of who they are, resulted in a lawsuit that pit parents, McCleary, et ux, et al, v. State of Washington. The case was decided in favor of the parents, and Washington was found to be illegally underfunding K-12 education by over one billion dollars, having until 2014 to make ends meet.
But what does this mean for the collegiate? Besides those enrolled through Running Start, a program that allows high school students of junior and senior years to attend college classes, most BC students do not stand to directly gain from this legal decision. In fact, quite the contrary; Washington state has a track record of taking funds from higher education funds, which are exempt from the McCleary act and fully susceptible to the State’s will. This would be followed by crippled classes and higher tuitions, which are already staggering to the average student. So it is understandable that there might be frustration over the decision on campus.
This is the hard truth about running an economy on anything but anarchy. State and local budgets need to be balanced and money needs to come from somewhere. Though it may not seem fair to tuition payers, the children of this state who cannot afford private education must be tended to. There is nothing free or equal about a state where an intelligent kid in poverty must play second fiddle to any child born into money, and this was well established when Washington wrote its constitution. Short of whipping a billion dollars out of a hat, there is no other option besides leaving kids behind.