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How much do teachers make? (Hint – the statewide average including benefits is $83,000)

April 27, 2015 in Blog

Executives with the state’s powerful Washington Education Association (WEA) union announced last week they plan to expand school closings by calling a strike for May 6th in the Lake Washington district, bringing to eleven the number of school districts subject to union action. The latest announcement will empty classrooms for the day of about 25,760 students, increasing to 70,000 the number of students affected by shuttered public schools.

Are teacher strikes illegal? See RCW 41.56.120

April 23, 2015 in Blog

Parents in Arlington scrambled yesterday to make alternative arrangements for their children as a strike called by teacher union executives closed local public schools.  Union leaders in Conway and Anacortes also announced plans to strike, bringing to ten the number of districts where local schools closed to students.

Union strikes seek to close schools to 40,000 students in eight districts

April 21, 2015 in Blog

Union executives in eight Washington public school districts have called for strikes starting this week in an effort to pressure lawmakers in Olympia to direct more money to increases in teacher pay and benefits. The call was affirmed by votes of union membership.

New charter school in New Orleans will add learning choices for students

April 14, 2015 in Blog

Last week National Public Radio interviewed Jonathan Johnson, the founder of the Rooted School, a new charter school opening in New Orleans. Mr. Johnson’s high school program will prepare students for the 7,000 tech-sector jobs predicted to arrive in Louisiana. Mr. Johnson believes students need more options than college. The Rooted School will offer a small-school environment to prepare students for a technical career, in addition to getting ready for college.

2015-17 Budget: Senate would cut college tuition, House would allow tuition increases

April 8, 2015 in Blog

The Senate and House proposed budgets for 2015-17 take sharply different approaches to solving the problem of rising tuition at Washington’s public institutions of higher learning. Starting under Governor Gregoire, the state cut funding for public colleges and universities, while at the same time telling administrators they could impose large tuition increases. The increased burden falls hardest on middle–class families trying to gain access to college for their children leaving high school.

Under "levy swap," taxes voted for local schools would go to Olympia instead

April 6, 2015 in Blog

State lawmakers are debating the merits of an idea called the “levy swap,” in which Olympia would take the money people now pay in local school taxes and redistribute it statewide, while in turn reducing the taxes people pay to local school districts. Still, most parents would likely be upset if they found out the taxes they voted for local schools were going to Olympia instead.

Senate bill would let families choose to receive $5,000 in education assistance

March 27, 2015 in Blog

Senator Michael Baumgartner (R- Spokane) has introduced SB 6079, to allow families that choose to receive up to $5,000 of the average $7,400 in public money the state spends per child.  Parents can use the money to access educational services for children at public or private schools. SB 6079 would help lawmakers fulfill the key purpose of education funding, to meet the paramount duty of providing for the education of every child residing in the state.

SOAR Academy Charter School holds lottery to select its inaugural kindergarten, first grade classes

March 24, 2015 in Blog

Hundreds of excited parents and students gathered early Saturday for a lottery to select students to attend a new charter public school to open in Tacoma this fall.  SOAR Academy, the first elementary public charter school in Pierce County, will provide kindergarten through 8th grade for schoolchildren.  The school received 234 applications for 124 available slots in kindergarten and first grade.  Principal Kristina Bellamy-McClain drew at random from a drum to select student names.

New charter school to open in Kent

March 11, 2015 in Blog

Excitement is building in Kent as the opening day for the community’s first charter school approaches.

Chris Vance describes levy swap idea

March 5, 2015 in Blog

The levy-swap concept, in which state lawmakers would take local levy funds in return for lower local property tax rates, is being debated in Olympia as one way to increase state funding for public education under the McCleary decision.

Excited parents and children gather for Washington state’s first charter school lottery

March 3, 2015 in Blog

Photo: Brenda McDonald, principal of PRIDE Prep charter school draws the names to fill one 
of 150 spaces available for enrollment

How Senator Liias can increase teacher pay without raising taxes

February 25, 2015 in Blog

Senator Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) has released a new edition of his Washington White Board video series, arguing that state officials pay entry-level public school teachers so little they qualify for public assistance.  Senator Liias has also introduced a bill to create a state income tax.

Let’s make sure teachers get the classroom support they need

February 20, 2015 in Blog

In a new video posted over at The Stand, the union online newsletter, public school math teacher Mrs.

Rep. Carlyle calls for rethinking state’s role in funding K-12 schools

February 13, 2015 in Blog

This week, always-thoughtful Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), Chairman of the House Finance Committee, released an interesting paper discussing state and local funding of the public schools. He notes that for 40 years, Washington has pursued a “state funded” education system, where most tax dollars are sent to Olympia to be distributed back to local schools, and small added local levies are intended to pay for modest enhancements.

SB 5744 would help every student have a great teacher

February 11, 2015 in Blog

On Monday the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee held a hearing on SB 5744, a school reform bill sponsored by Senator Litzow (R-Mercer Island). The bill would require administrators to consider teacher performance when layoffs are required.