Remove education duty from state constitution

December 12, 2012 

While debating education funding after the Supreme Court ruled the state isn’t fulfilling it’s obligation, no politician has proposed the obvious: amend the constitution to eliminate the “paramount duty” language.

The constitution was written in a time when many of the functions we now require or expect of state government were neither in place nor probably even envisioned. There is no reason we should treat any constitution as unchangeable. If a particular provision is preventing a flexible response to today’s problems, we don’t have to be bound by policy prescriptions made more than 120 years ago.

None of this is to denigrate the value and importance of education. But we have other pressing needs and issues to deal with as well. And a dogged determination to hang onto an outdated constitutional provision doesn’t help meet needs.

It may also serve as a handy way for Democrats to vastly increase the budget or Republicans to gut parts of state government unpopular with right-wingers.

Neither of those outcomes is palatable to the majority of the people, so amending the constitution may be the better path.

kevin slease

Olympia

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