Students march on Olympia to push Legislature on school funding

Students are asking legislators to do what the state Supreme Court said they must provide adequate funding for their public education.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Olympia High School senior Gracie Anderson says she organized the Students' March on Olympia because she felt something important was missing.

"This was a platform for us, one, to advocate for the student right to education," Anderson said. "But also to point out specific student concerns."

Their goal was to give voice to those who are affected most by the state Legislature's failure to fully fund public education.

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"All we're asking for is, like, a bare minimum, please, like, follow your constitutional duty, amply fund our education," she said.

"That's what we want right now. And they aren't even doing that."

And it's what the state Supreme Court demanded in its McCleary decision five years ago.

Since then, state lawmakers have moved slowly to meet their obligation with the promise to finally do so in this upcoming, two-year budget cycle.

Republican lawmakers have unveiled their budget proposal, which they contend increases education funding by $1.8 billion. But the state's top Democrat, Gov. Jay Inslee, said it falls far short of the mandate.

All of it, says Anderson, who is also on the Legislative Youth Advisory Council, is long overdue for a Legislature that continues to shortchange its youngest citizens.

"Amply funding our education," Anderson said.

"That's our constitutional right.

But there's lots of other awesome things that were brought up today regarding LGBTQ discrimination rights.

That's a big one. And also special education funding is super important.

Smaller class sizes."

Anderson says this is just the start of their activism to get the Legislature to act.

She says they are bandying about several ideas but aren't ready to unveil them just yet.