WEA union issues false attack in an effort to silence alternative views
WEA union member Angela Bina (annual salary and benefits $103,000) recently issued a divisive and meanspirited attack on Washington Policy Center and my work as an independent education policy analyst. This false attack against our recent statewide policy conference was sent to thousands of teachers across the state, in an effort to spark needless political controversy among skilled and sincere educators who simply want to do a good job and help children.
We invited former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker to speak because we are always open to learning from the experiences of other states.
Here is where the WEA's attack letter is wrong, with factual responses to make sure people are accurately informed.
Calling Washington Policy Center “...a corporate-backed group” - WPC is a member-driven, independent, non-partisan, non-profit research and educational organization. Membership starts at $50 a year, and 90% of our support comes from Washington residents.
“...held a political event” - The annual Solutions Summit is not a political event. It is a policy conference focused on promoting the best ideas possible for the people of our state. The event was independent and strictly non-partisan. In fact, two Democratic state lawmakers received awards for their work in the 2019 session.
"...students [in Wisconsin] stopped getting the resources they needed." - False. Since Governor Walker's Act 10 passed in 2011, state spending on schools has risen from $11.68 billion to $13.83 billion, and per-student spending has risen from $12,375 to $13,500.
"...Walker’s controversial agenda can divide and harm a community." - False. Actually, Wisconsin communities, and their elected lawmakers, are more united than ever in their continued support for public education.
"...Washington Policy Center opposes pay raises for educators." - False. Washington Policy Center supports pay raises for teachers and other educators. WPC opposes using rigid union rules to fire young teachers so under-performing teachers with more seniority can get raises.
"...opposes increasing funding for public schools..." - False, Washington Policy Center supports yearly increases in education spending, but we believe those resources should go to improving classroom instruction, not expanded administration.
"...opposes our right to stand to advocate for our students. " - False. Washington Policy Center will always, always defending the right of all people to have their voices heard. And we will always defend the right of the WEA union to organize, promote and advocate for their views. We oppose, however, forcing teachers to pay union dues involuntarily, or using threats and intimidation in the workplace to spread fear about opinions the union doesn't like.
"...lobbies to divert taxpayer funding from public schools to private schools..." - False. Washington Policy Center supports public schools, charter public schools, Indian Compact Schools, private schools, homeschooling, online learning, special needs education, Running Start, vocational training, and any other learning option that gives children access to services that help them develop their best talents and succeed in life.
It's the WEA union that wants to ban access to learning options (like twice suing to shut down all charter schools) and force families into one-size-fits-all monopoly schools, including sending thousands of kids every year to one of Washington's 250 state-identified failing schools.
Union executives are angry because the Supreme Court's recent Janus decision means teachers can leave the union and still keep their jobs, and in Washington state thousands have done so. The WEA union wants to silence dissenting voices, instead of engaging in constructive debate about how we all can, as a united community, best serve children.
We host a successful statewide conference (this year held in Spokane) and invite anyone and everyone to participate (and hundreds did), and the WEA union's response is to attack, lie, protest and try to shut the conference down. So who is promoting a hurtful and divisive agenda? Not Washington Policy Center.
We welcome open-minded discussion and new ideas. We only wish all public education interest groups felt the same way.