From OurVoice WEA...
Washington’s new supplemental state budget does nothing to reduce the state’s severely overcrowded class sizes or to restore voter-approved cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for teachers and other school employees.
Instead of fulfilling their constitutional paramount duty to fully fund a quality K-12 public education for Washington’s children, lawmakers in Olympia spent much of the last three months debating bureaucratic federal regulations and unproven, misguided “education reform.”
“Rather than focusing on what our kids really need – smaller class sizes and more time with adults – the debate in Olympia got sidetracked by policies and regulations that have nothing to do with helping Washington students or their teachers,” said Kim Mead, president of the Washington Education Association.
The facts tell a stark story about the state’s failure to support K-12 public schools and students. National rankings released Wednesday show Washington’s class sizes rank 47th out of 50 states – a dismal statistic that keeps our state’s students stuck in overcrowded classrooms. And now, due to the Legislature’s inaction, Washington’s teachers and other public school employees will go six straight years without the cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) voters overwhelmingly approved.
And while some elected officials in Olympia pat themselves on the back, the supplemental state budget they passed doesn’t comply with the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, and it flouts the court’s January order to address the state’s class size and compensation crisis. (The amount of new K-12 funding for materials and supplies is roughly equal to the COLA — in other words, the Legislature funded the increase by taking it from educators’ paychecks.)
WEA members are grateful that a majority of legislators from both parties listened to teachers’ concerns and successfully opposed proposed changes to teacher evaluations. Teachers adamantly opposed mandating the use of state test scores in teacher evaluations, especially in light of the politicians’ failure on substantive issues like class size and compensation. Evaluating teachers on a brand-new, unproven test that doesn’t measure student growth does not help teachers or their students, and there’s no evidence or research to suggest it would. The legislation would have been the fourth major change in teacher evaluations in four years, and it would have undermined the collaborative work teachers and administrators are doing to implement the new system.
Educators are looking ahead despite the lack of progress in Olympia on school funding and will continue working to implement the state’s rigorous new teacher evaluation system, fighting for smaller class sizes and advocating for fully funded public schools.