It’s widely assumed that Initiative 1351, the ballot measure that purports to reduce class sizes, will pass by a wide margin. The initiative title has bumper-sticker attractiveness, it faces no organized opposition, and executives at the powerful WEA and other unions are putting $3.5 million of their members’ dues money behind it. (In Washington, teachers must pay the union as a condition of employment.)
Backers of Initiative 1351 are asking voters to support reduced class sizes without providing a way to pay for it. Smaller class sizes without higher taxes – who wouldn’t be for that? As one skeptic quipped, it’s like asking people to vote for puppies and apple pie.
Initiative 1351, the ballot measure on class sizes, will bring new profits to the powerful WEA union because all new teachers will be forced to pay about $1,000 a year in dues as a condition of employment. Overall the measure represents a $7.4 million windfall for the union, every year.
At the same time, I-1351 would do little to improve learning for Washington’s school children.
A statement released Saturday by the Washington state Democratic Party falsely describes the political support behind Initiative 1351, the unfunded ballot measure intended to reduce class sizes.
The statement says “As Democrats, we are united” in supporting strong schools and educational opportunities then adds in bold lettering, “That’s why Democrats support Initiative 1351 to reduce class size for every child, in every grade.”
Last weekin Yakima, in the second round of charter school applications, the Washington State Charter School Commission approved only one new school and rejected three others. Here are the actions Commissioners took:
Washington’s charter school law, one of the best in the country, is working as the voters intended when they passed Initiative 1240 in 2012. The state Charter School Commission has approved seven new schools to open their doors to students this year and next, and officials at the Spokane School District have approved a charter school to serve the city’s low-income families. The state’s first charter school, First Place Scholars, opened in September in Seattle’s Central District, helping homeless and low-income children gain access to a good public education.
A lot of false claims are being made these days about school funding and class sizes. Supporters of Initiative 1351, the class-size reduction initiative, say Washington’s schools do not have enough adults on staff to provide smaller class sizes. They want to increase the number adults paid by public schools by creating 25,561 new staff positions.
In a growing trend, more Democrats are expressing doubt and skepticism about Initiative 1351, the class size reduction initiative put on the November ballot by executives at the powerful teachers union, the Washington Education Association (WEA).
KOMO News Radio reported yesterday that Evergreen Heights Elementary in Auburn is having trouble meeting the legislature’s mandate to reduce class sizes. The school does not have the room. The school’s principal has instead been forced to put classes in the library, the gym and in a new portable. The library is now off-limits to students during class time. The gym has been divided into two classes, so students will no longer be able to take gym classes inside.
In a surprise move Tuesday, the 43rd District Democrats in Seattle refused to endorse the Washington Education Association union's class-size ballot measure, Initiative 1351. State senator Jamie Pedersen (D-43, Capitol Hill) spoke against the measure, warning it would hurt legislative efforts to fund the schools in response to the McCleary decision.
A mom in Seattle contacted me recently and asked how much money her children’s school, Blaine K-8, receives from the Seattle School District. I looked it up and we were both stunned to discover how little funding, barely half, reaches a typical neighborhood school out of the central budget.
Many people wonder how education budgets can keep rising while local schools remain chronically short of money, so thought I would share my findings with my readers.
School administrators across Washington are sending letters this week informing parents that families may now have the right to choose a better school and get free tutoring for their children under the federal No Child Left Behind law. Many school officials, however, are reluctant to explain the matter clearly to parents.
The State Board of Education objects to using letter grades to make the State Board’s Public School Achievement Index understandable. The State Board ranks school performance, placing schools in one of six categories: Exemplary, Very Good, Good, Fair, Underperforming and Lowest 5 Percent.