Washington Law Review


Washington State's Mandate: The Constitutional Obligation to Fund Post-Secondary Education

| 89 Wash. L. Rev. Online 15

Abstract: This essay focuses on the provisions of the Washington State Constitution that address post-secondary education. It argues that, understood in the historical context in which those sections were drafted, Washington has a constitutional obligation to support and fund its institutions of higher learning. The essay describes the historical development of education systems in the United States, with particular attention paid to the funding of those systems. It then shows that (1) the language of Articles IX and XIII of Washington’s constitution are closely related, (2) Article IX’s "general and uniform system of public schools" was meant to include both normal schools (teacher training colleges) and technical schools, and (3) Article XIII’s mandate that the state "foster and support" educational institutions referred to the University of Washington, among others. It concludes that while the precise level of required state support for the regional and research universities is not clear, the continued reduction of state funding may soon reach a constitutionally unacceptable level.

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