Washington’s Paramount Duty is a non-partisan, grassroots group of parents and allies advocating for Washington to amply fund basic education and fulfill its paramount duty. We envision a future where every child has equitable access to an amply funded basic education.
WHY WE CARE
An amply funded, excellent education can help every child succeed. But Washington still hasn’t met its constitutional duty to fully fund schools. Despite the McCleary ruling, schools still lack ample funding, which school districts and parents still have to plug through levies and fundraisers. The situation is made worse by the legislature’s lack of full funding, which leaves many districts millions of dollars short and facing cuts.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
Washington needs new, progressive revenue to ensure our schools are providing students with an excellent education. In a state that is home to world-class companies, we have the wealth to ensure every Washington student receives a world-class education. Every child in Washington has the right to:
- An amply funded, basic, K-12 education that is equitable, culturally sensitive and non-biased.
- A healthy and safe school, with qualified teachers, smaller class sizes and nutritious meals.
- A supportive environment that breaks down barriers for every student, regardless of situation or ability, including children of color, low-income families, immigrant families and LGBTQ students.
- A well-rounded curriculum, including art, music, drama, languages, technology and sports.
- The knowledge, skills and technology necessary for each child to thrive in the 21st Century.
WHAT WE WANT
Washington has the most unfair tax system in the United States. Our tax system places a disproportionate burden on those with the lowest incomes. Our wealthiest individuals and largest corporations take home huge profits while we critically underfund education. We need dependable and regular revenue sources to fund our schools. Our new school funding needs to be:
- Ample – Sufficient to fund education and sustainable in economic upswings and downturns.
- Enough to safeguard important state priorities – We cannot fund K-12 education through cuts to other essential state services such as early learning, higher education, mental health care, etc.
- Equitable – While all schools need more funding, some need more than others. We need to invest in and expand upon existing legislation to close the opportunity gap for every child.
- Fair and reasonable – New revenue must be progressive—meaning the revenue must come primarily from the wealthiest individuals and largest corporations, who have not been paying their fair share.
- Transparent and accountable – Voters must be able to see that the funds designated for education go to schools and classrooms and are spent as promised.
HOW WE GOT STARTED
From an informal meeting to launching a statewide organizing campaign
One rainy weekend morning in September 2015, a small group of parents met over coffee. The conversation quickly turned to personal testimonials about the latest toll the lack of state funding for our public schools was taking on all our kids. But we knew that as individuals we were helpless to do anything about it. It was evident to all seated at that table that the only way for us to overcome state lawmakers’ indifference to the concerns of parents, students, teachers and our communities was to organize.
Washington’s Paramount Duty was founded, taking our name from Article IX of the Washington State Constitution, which states: “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.”
As a first step, we started a Facebook group and four days later, over 2,000 members had signed up. Within 3 months, that number more than doubled, to over 4,200 members, and has continued to grow ever since. From our beginnings, our story has been picked up in the print and broadcast media. Parents and children in Vancouver, Everett, Renton, Yakima and Wenatchee testified at Listening Tour events sponsored by the Senate Education Committee. During the 2016 legislative session, we had volunteers in Olympia every week, testifying at hearings and meeting with lawmakers, urging elected leaders to put politics aside for the sake of our kids and fund a meaningful and fair solution. Since then, we have continued to advocate for ample funding for Washington's public schools, through new, progressive revenue, with representatives from our organization testifying in Olympia regularly during the 2017, 2018 and now 2019 legislative sessions, and attending town halls, lobby days and other advocacy events.
We are humbled that our advocacy efforts have been recognized. Our founders were named as 2016 Superheroes by ParentMap, and we were awarded the League of Women Voters Seattle-King County 2017 "Voices of Democracy" Award for helping citizens raise their voices in support of equality and civic discourse. And we continue to advocate for every child in Washington to receive an amply funded excellent public school education.
HOW WE ARE ORGANIZED
Washington’s Paramount Duty is guided by a Board of Directors. Current members are: Dawn Bennett, Emily Carmichael, Robert Cruickshank, John Freeman, Kathy Gillespie, Rita Green, Sarah Reyneveld, Summer Stinson, and Rebecca Vaux. All are either parents with children enrolled in the Washington State public school system or long-time K-12 education advocates.
Much of our organization is done through social media - our Facebook group numbers thousands of members from across Washington, who have one thing in common: they know the state is still not investing enough in our public schools, and they want to see that change so that every public school in Washington is able to provide an amply funded basic education to every student.
You can find more information on how you can get involved here.