Washington Law Review


The Washington State Constitution makes education Washington State’s top priority. Article IX, section 1 proclaims that “[i]t is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders . . . .” In the 1978 case of Seattle School District v. State, the Washington State Supreme Court interpreted this language as a command to the state legislature. The Court ordered the legislature to fulfill its constitutional duty by defining and fully funding “basic education” and a “basic program of education.” The legislature attempted to comply by passing and subsequently amending the Basic Education Act and, in 2009, by passing H.B. 2261. This Comment analyzes the state’s school-funding duty in light of these legislative efforts and recent Washington school-funding cases. This Comment concludes that the legislature has not met its constitutional duty because it has not adequately defined a “basic program of education,” and therefore recommends that the legislature amend H.B. 2261 to bring the state into compliance with article IX, section 1 of the Washington State Constitution.

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