Teacher union president wrong on school funding

December 10, 2012

Today Mary Lindquist, president of the Washington Education Association, posted a cranky attack on legislative leaders Senators Tom, Litzow and Sheldon. She claims they have been “slashing school funding by $2.5 billion.”

Ms. Lindquist is wrong. School funding has not been slashed. In fact, as the table below shows, school spending has increased significantly in the last ten years, from $11.3 billion to $15.6 billion, a nearly 50% increase. In 2001-2, schools in Washington spent $7,330 per student. In 2011-12, schools are spending $10,237 per student, the highest amount ever in state history.

Public school financing in Washington is a complex mix of multiple programs and funding sources. It creates a hazy fog of confusion that allows self-interested parties like Mary Lindquist to mislead the public with erroneous claims.

School spending has not been cut. It just hasn’t increased as fast as Mary wanted it to.

Maybe Mary should do her homework the next time she talks about school spending.

K-12 Spending — Operating, Total Budgeted (does not include capital spending)

2001-03 $11.3 billion
2003-05 $11.9 billion
2005-07 $13.2 billion
2007-09 $15.2 billion
2009-11 $15.4 billion
2011-13 (budgeted) $15.6 billion



the highest amount ever in state history

Funny thing about how costs rise, isn't it? Almost everything now has a price which the highest in history. Coffee used to cost a nickel and doughnuts costs a dime.

Of course, these changes in the price tags only have meaning in the context of inflation and, even more meaning, in the context of narrow measures of inflation. For example, if teacher salaries and benefits have risen we could put that increase in cost in the context of the salaries of professionals with post-graduate degrees. That would be meaningful.

Saying that a cost is "the highest amount ever in state history" is not meaningful.

Replacing McAuliffe

The best thing that could happen to the kids of Washington state is to have Rosemary McAuliffe replaced. She has long been a huge obstacle to real educational progress. I wish Steve the best.... He could start saving this state money by pushing to change our direction on the Common Core. Every indication is that the CCSS have been hi-jacked by the reformers. They have no intention of following the rigorous content standards and the Smarter Balanced assessment looks like WASL II. Do we really want to repeat the lost decade and the waste of a billion dollars that we just spent on the WASL?,

K-12 Spending

Explaining one person's bad "math" with more bad "math" does not help formulate an honest debate about K-12 funding and performance. The per pupil spending you report above increased 39% from 2001 to 2012 while US inflation was about 31% over the same time frame. Spending per pupil did increase more than inflation but not quite as dramatically you reported it above. An honest debate about K-12 performance and funding would be better served if both sides used statistics honestly and objectively. The WEA and WPC both lose creditability on what I see above.