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State superintendent suggests shutting down Washington schools

Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn says the state needs to take some extreme steps to get the Legislature to pay attention to public education. (AP)

The person in charge of Washington’s public schools is willing to go to extremes to get the state Legislature to start paying more attention to education.

Randy Dorn, the superintendent of public instruction, suggests schools be shut down until the Legislature makes progress on fully funding K-12 education. Dorn filed a court brief Wednesday, The Seattle Times reports.

Related: School superintendent candidate proposes $14k raise for Washington teachers

Dorn argues that the Legislature’s main accomplishment in 2016 to address “deficiencies” in public education, as identified by the state Supreme Court, was “nothing more than a plan to a plan.”

“The problem is not a lack of information; it is the lack of political will to use the information,” Dorn said in his brief.

KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross points out that the court’s only punishment for the Legislature is imposing a $100,000-a-day fine. That, Ross says, has done absolutely nothing. The Legislature has simply kept track of how much it owes but hasn’t paid a cent.

To hold the Legislature more accountable for its actions — or lack thereof — Dorn has several suggestions. That includes holding individual legislators in contempt and fined up to $2,000 a day.

And Dave asks, “Why not?” If the state is willing to fine teachers for striking, why not fine the lawmakers?

Other suggestions include: stopping the payment of property tax money to school districts, effectively shutting them down; order tax break repeals; shut down state government; or, maybe the most extreme suggestion, shut down public schools.

Of course, Dorn doesn’t really have much to lose. He is not seeking re-election to his position as superintendent of public instruction.

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