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This Week in Olympia

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Week of May 15


WEA members continued to Occupy Olympia this week even though most legislators didn’t. We are hearing that educators’ presence is making a difference, alongside the other activities people are spearheading in their home towns: door-to-door canvassing, walk-ins, rallies, engaging PTA parents and the like. 

With the end of the first special session this Tuesday, “Occupy” will come to a close. But not without a final big push when many, many councils and locals are sending people to the capitol to make a show of support for education funding. If you’ve considered joining the “Occupy” movement, Tuesday is the day. Washington Paramount Duty and the League of Women Voters will be joining us. 

Local Meetings with Legislators

Most lawmakers AREN’T in Olympia (only a handful of officials are here to negotiate the education plan and overall budget) and so we now focus our attention on back-home actions.  

We need you to organize meetings in your community with your lawmakers, precisely because when they hear from us, it changes things, and helps move support for students and schools forward. Every lawmaker should be invited to meet with educators and/or parents. 

Take, for example, a recent meeting in Wenatchee with newly elected Sen. Brad Hawkins. WenEA Kris Cameron, with her Executive Board and two Eastmont EA teachers, met with Hawkins after school where they talked about the Senate Republicans’ plan.  The size of the group – eight educators – was small enough for a meaningful conversation, and large enough to provide real-life examples to Sen. Hawkins about the harmful aspects of the Senate proposal. They talked about the salary cap, teacher certification, the value of a masters degree and the importance of local control so that districts, not Olympia, can decide how to meet community needs. 

After what Kris described as an “honest and deep conversation,” she said they felt heard and that Hawkins understood our priorities. “We appreciate that even when we disagree with Brad on policy, he is still willing to listen and learn,” said Kris. 

She is setting up additional meetings in the coming weeks with their other representative, and inviting other locals to join in.  Another Wenatchee teacher, Tamera Detwiler, traveled to Olympia on Friday with a poster signed by her students and a message for legislators.

“I came to Occupy Olympia because I’m frustrated for my students,” Detwiler said. “Their voices aren’t being heard and their needs aren’t being met. The Senate budget hurts me and hurts my students.”

You, too, can make sure your voice is heard. Contact your local president to see how you can help organize a meeting with your lawmakers. And don’t forget to send a message to your lawmakers opposing the reckless and harmful Senate Republican budget. Read more about the Senate’s plan here. 

Coming up

As mentioned above. the first special session ends on Tuesday, May 23. Governor Inslee is expected to call lawmakers right back into the second special session. 

McCleary Candlelight Vigil, 8-10 p.m., Friday, June 2

The WEA Caucuses are organizing a McCleary candlelight vigil on the capitol steps with Washington Paramount Duty. 
Educators, parents, grandparents, students, legislators and officials, union rank and file members, organizations, and community members are invited to join in.


Trump-DeVos budget cuts school funding, diverts money to private schools

In the other Washington, The Washington Post this week reported on leaked details about the Trump-DeVos plan to slash $10 billion in federal education funding and to divert $400 million to private school vouchers.

The story, “Trump’s first full education budget: Deep cuts to public school programs in pursuit of school choice,” highlights how the Trump-DeVos education plan takes scarce funding away from public schools and gives it to private schools that are unaccountable to the public.

Here’s a statement from WEA President Kim Mead about the Trump-DeVos budget:

“In our Washington, we’ve been fighting for years to make sure every child has access to an amply funded public education. When we all recognize our students need additional supports, it is unconscionable that the Trump-DeVos budget drains funds from our public schools and diverts public funding into privately operated charter and religious schools. 

“Like the state budget written by Senate Republicans in Olympia, the Trump-DeVos budget hurts kids. It cuts funds for low income students, mental health care in school, and even civics education, at a time one could argue we need that now more than ever. They end the student loan repayment program leaving young adults saddled with debt as they begin their professional lives. The list of cuts and damages goes on. Washington schools and students will lose millions if this budget would pass. 

“We urge our congressional delegation to resist these harmful cuts and stand strong for Washington students. Call 1-855-764-1010 and tell Congress to reject this budget!”

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