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With each passing day that the legislature pays another $100,00 fine, the conversation about school funding becomes more heated.

On Monday, a group of state lawmakers will hold their last meeting to hear from the public about how to fully fund schools as required by the state’s Supreme Court, which ruled in 2012 that lawmakers were underfunding public schools and violating the constitutional rights of the state’s 1 million schoolchildren. And you had to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard about a Seattle parent’s $70,000 school donation made out of pure anger and frustration, to help a school that was going to lose a staff member due to that school district’s budget woes.

That’s why Tom Halverson, director of the Master’s in Education Policy program at the University of Washington, says there’s no better time to learn about and discuss how school finance works. And he’s offering one way — inviting the public to the a film focused on public school spending.  

On Tuesday, October 27 at 6 p.m. the program is hosting a free screening of “The Cartel,” a 2011 documentary that proclaims the financial management of public schools needs desperate reform. Following the film will be a discussion with panelists including Dave Powell, executive director of Stand for Children; Liv Finne, who writes about education for the Washington Policy Center; Rob McGregor, assistant director of UW’s Leadership for Learning program and former superintendent of the Kelso School District; and John Higgins, education reporter at The Seattle Times.

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Halverson said he hasn’t asked any of the panelists to prepare anything– no one will give a speech and it’s not a debate, he said. Rather, the audience will receive cards and asked to write questions that will be posed to the panelists.

“The whole purpose behind it is we want to try and and create a much more accessible and comfortable way for us, the College of Education, and community to get together and talk about some of these issues,” Halverson said.

“The Cartel” (to be shown in Smith Hall 120)  is part of a fall film series.

The final two films will be:

“American Teacher” on November 10 at 4 p.m. (Smith Hall 120) 

“Beyond Measure” on December 1 at 6 p.m. (Kane Hall 120)