What will you do with one arm behind your back? | Editorial

For more than 30 years, the Orcas Island Education Foundation has been providing support to our public schools to make up for the failure of Washington state legislature to fully fund education.

It’s one more example of how our community values youth on this island.

The foundation is launching a quirky, interactive fundraiser this summer. In the “One Arm Tied Behind Your Back” volunteers are asked to perform an activity with only one arm, film it, post it on social media and encourage community members to donate funds at www.oief.org.

Putting yourself out there on the world wide web might not be your thing – but please donate. Any amount you can. Thanks to OIEF, our students’ school experience is enriched with classes in such topics as guitar building, theater, debate and physics.

The foundation also oversees two very special programs: Arts for Orcas Kids, known as A-OK, and Farm to Cafeteria. A-Ok brings local artists into the classroom to bring visual arts to life, and Farm to Cafeteria allows students to maintain the 8,000-square-foot school garden. In addition, school meals are now entirely cooked from scratch and include local produce, fruits and meats.

OIEF is committed to providing funding to the Orcas School District when the state has failed to do so.

The Washington State Constitution says: “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.”

Legally and constitutionally, Washington is expected to fund basic education, but the state has repeatedly neglected to do so. The term “basic funding” encompasses sufficient funding for all students and adequate compensation of teachers.

A lawsuit was filed by the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools in 2007 on behalf of two Washington state families with school-aged children: the McClearys and the Venemas.

The King County Superior Court oversaw the trial, which began in 2009, and mandated that the state must “proceed with real and measurable progress to establish the actual cost of amply providing all Washington children with the education mandated.” The state appealed the court’s decision. The Washington State Supreme Court in 2012, determined that “…the state legislature has failed to fulfill its paramount duty to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.” The state has been given until 2018 to fully fund basic education, leaving each school district to continue funding its programs. In August 2015, when the state failed to demonstrate any progress toward the 2018 goal, or any plan for doing so, the Supreme Court began fining the state $100,000 a day until it complied.

The Orcas Island Education Foundation believes that great school districts make for great communities. We believe that too.

Thank you to OIEF and its many supporters for providing opportunities for our children to grow and succeed.