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WEA strongly opposes punitive Republican education budget plan

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Senate Ways and Means
A WEA lobbyist testifies against the Senate education budget.

WEA strongly opposes Senate Bill 5607, the Senate Republicans’ K-12 budget plan that would cut teacher pay, increase class sizes and expand charter schools.

“The plan undermines the will of the voters by eliminating Initiative 1351 – which will result in larger class sizes for all students – especially those in high-poverty schools,” WEA budget lobbyist Julie Salvi testified at a Senate Ways and Means Committee Monday afternoon.

Email your legislators to oppose the Senate Republican budget and to support Gov. Inslee’s proposal.

The GOP plan falls far short of amply funding Washington’s K-12 public schools as required by the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision. Instead, the plan would mandate a mishmash of bad policies that have nothing to do with ample funding – including lowering teacher standards, trampling due process and restricting collective bargaining rights.

The Republican plan also makes a big change in the school funding formula, moving to a model that could open the door to more charters and other privatization schemes – a concept promoted by US Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos.

It also reduces special education funding, removes the current salary allocation model for teachers and eliminates state-funded bonuses for National Board Certified Teachers.

The GOP plan also includes a levy swap that increases taxes in some districts and sends the increased funding to other districts. A number of districts representing a total of 500,000 students would receive less funding than what they currently receive, and taxpayers in Seattle would pay $174 million more and get $2 million in return.

At the Senate hearing, Republican Sen. Dino Rossi talked about finding “efficiencies” in other state services, which is a euphemism for budget cuts.

And, even though amply funding public schools is the state’s paramount duty, the Senate budget writers have proposed putting their plan on the fall ballot for voter approval – which means voters could vote it down.

WEA supports Gov. Jay Inslee’s nearly $4 billion K-12 budget, which makes large investments in raising educator pay, in addition to funding professional development and additional support staff positions. Inslee’s proposal also includes new revenue, which is needed to protect other important social and health services students and their families need. Email your legislators to oppose the Senate Republican budget and to support Gov. Inslee’s proposal.

Newly elected Supt. of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal also testified about the Senate Republican budget plan. WEA President Kim Mead, who attended the hearing, said she expected Reykdal to oppose the plan more forcefully.

“It was disappointing to have our endorsed champion not taking a stronger stand,” Mead said.

We’ll post a comparison of the House, Senate and Governor’s K-12 budget plans later this week.

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