Speaking out for our students, our schools, and ourselves
Each year, leaders in WEA's Legislative Strategy Committee come together to create a blueprint of the most pressing legislative issues. Once they create the draft legislative agenda, the WEA Board must approve it. As we talk with lawmakers about the 2024 Washington Legislative Session, these are our most urgent needs. Read more about getting involved.
Provide professional, livable wages for classified Education Support Professionals (ESPs)
Paraeducators, bus drivers, food service, school office professionals and other classified staff in schools support students by ensuring they arrive at school safely, providing individualized or small group learning support, preparing nutritious meals, and caring for them when injured or sick. Chronic shortages and constant turnover in these critical roles are symptoms of low pay resulting from lack of state funding. No education professional should earn wages that qualify their families for free-and-reduced price lunches or other social safety net programs. The Legislature must fund additional classified staff positions and increase compensation for the lowest paid staff in schools.
Provide professional, livable wages for adjunct faculty
In higher education, adjunct faculty wages are far below the wage rates for full-time faculty, which is a financial incentive for colleges to continue to rely on adjunct positions. Over-reliance on contingent positions is a disservice to students as many adjunct faculty are not compensated for regular office hours to support student learning needs. The legislature must put in place funding and policies to close this pay gap and ensure equitable and professional compensation for adjunct faculty.
Support students struggling with behavioral challenges
Educators see the need for additional resources to support students as students’ behaviors more frequently disrupt learning and at times raise safety concerns for the student exhibiting the behavior, classmates, and educators. Educators need additional training, supports, and other resources to address the behavior crisis. The legislature must address the unmet needs of students by providing state-level systemic increases in staffing and professional development to support students before they experience behavioral crises and to provide pathways to success for all students.
Fully fund Special Education
Students with disabilities have a federal and constitutional right to basic education and to the services provided by their Individual Education Plans (IEPs). The legislature must build upon the progress made in the 2023 session and meet its obligation to all students, including students with disabilities, by fully funding special education.
Ensure every district has the resources it needs to recruit & retain educators
The compensation system was dramatically changed when the legislature addressed the McCleary court decision, which included a move away from the state salary allocation model and the introduction of regionalization. The legislature should follow recommendations of the Basic Education Compensation Advisory Committee to use the Metropolitan Statistical Areas as the basis for regionalization, to limit the differences along regional borders, and to improve the experience mix factor to more accurately reflect a district’s staffing costs.
Ensure every school & college has the resources it needs to provide engaging learning opportunities
Schools must be safe and engaging environments for students. The legislature shall support inclusive curriculum and oppose the removal of books from libraries and classrooms. The ability to recruit and retain educators is integral to a school’s ability to meet student needs. The legislature must provide support for educators in residency programs, pay for internships, explore equitable opportunities for educators who never had a choice in selecting their pension plan, provide pay parity for national certification for education staff associates, and ensure an annual COLA for retirees. To accomplish these priorities, the legislature must continue to advance additional progressive revenue sources to fully support the educational needs of students.