The Seattle Times editorial board might want to actually read the McCleary decision before opining on it:
Simply pouring new money into an old, dysfunctional system is a non-starter. Partisan divisions must be eliminated. Democratic lawmakers must broaden their view of the challenge before them. The task is not to find a way to get a few billion dollars more from taxpayers for the K-12 system, but rather how to better spend the money it has now and grow the state’s investment in education, from early learning to higher education.
Actually, finding more money for K-12 education is pretty much the legislature's main task. I know that Republicans and their surrogates on the editorial boards would like to co-opt McCleary into an opportunity to dramatically redefine public education in Washington state, but that's not what the court ordered.
Article IX, section 1 of the Washington State Constitution makes it the paramount duty of the State to amply provide for the education of all children within its borders. This duty requires the State to provide an opportunity for every child to gain the knowledge and skills outlined in Seattle School District, ESHB 1209, and the EALRs. The legislature must develop a basic education program geared toward delivering the constitutionally required education, and it must fully fund that program through regular and dependable tax sources.
The State has failed to meet its duty under article IX, section 1 by consistently providing school districts with a level of resources that falls short of the actual costs of the basic education program.
If you read the decision in its entirety you'll see that the court actually accepts the legislature's definition of basic education, but concludes that it is not amply funding it. There's nothing in McCleary ordering the state to "better spend the money," as the Seattle Times implies. Rather, the court demands "regular and dependable tax sources" to fund reforms that are already in place.
It's true, McCleary does state that "pouring more money into an outmoded system will not succeed" (language that the editors echo), but this is in a section titled "Funding the Basic Education Program with Local Levies." That's the "system" that McCleary is referring too: The outmoded funding system. It is not referring to the public school system as a whole.
That said, the editors do get one thing right:
The McCleary ruling pointed lawmakers to a framework, the 2009 education-reform law that laid out a vision, including more early-learning programs, all-day kindergarten, smaller classes and school transportation.
How the editors think we can pay for these programs without finding billions more in revenue is beyond me.