Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Updates from the Washington State Legislature

 The one update I cannot provide?  That the Legislature has finished its work in creating a budget.  The Governor has said if it is not done on time, he will call ANOTHER special session. 

From the Washington State Democratic Party from Governor Inslee:
"Our teachers haven’t had a cost of living adjustment since 2008, but the Citizens' Commission on Salaries decided to raise salaries for elected officials, including me. While I can't legally refuse the raise, I want to make sure it goes to teachers in Washington who need supplies for their classrooms. That’s why I’m giving my raise to teachers through, a site that allows people to help teachers with classroom needs."

Guest editorial by Christine Kulduff from the Stranger:

Consider our children. Two and a half years ago, the Washington State Supreme Court said the legislature violated its constitutional duty to fully fund our schools. Then, in an extraordinary and historic step, last September the court found the legislature in contempt for failing to make reasonable progress on a required funding plan.

The court stood up for our almost one million Washington students.

How did the senate respond to the supreme court watching out for the next generation? By proposing a $750,000+ cut to the supreme court itself. That’s the legislative equivalent of cutting someone off on I-5 at 85 miles per hour. It’s disrespectful and harmful to our democracy.

Please tell your representative to support the house budget because we can't have justice without properly funded courts.

Also from the Stranger:

Thousands of teachers from around the state walked off the job today to protest the legislature's underfunding of schools, excessive standardized testing, and too-large class sizes.

"The only clear consequence of Tuesday’s walkout by Seattle teachers is that students will lose one precious day of instruction," bemoans the Seattle Times editorial board. But that's plain old misleading.

"We're making up the day at the end of the year," said substitute teacher Manuel Cadenas, as the strikers and their supporters rallied in Westlake Plaza. He said the state's ranking in class sizes—47th largest in the nation—is unacceptable. (The Times editorialized against the voter-approved statewide initiative to reduce class sizes last fall, so it's no surprise it's opposing the strikes today.) 

Issaquah and Mercer Island teachers joined the local strike actions. Walkouts were reported on the other side of the state, in Wenatchee, too.

From Q13 tv:
There’s a new controversial effort to deny pay for any teachers who join the one-day walkouts that have been growing across the state.

A handful of state legislators want to penalize educators for disrupting the lives of parents and students.  The move created a heated debate Tuesday in Olympia.

“I just don’t think in America you can go on strike and still get paid by your employer,” said Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlach, sponsor of the bill.

In a dramatic show of support for teachers, the Democratic members staged an unprecedented walkout of Tuesday’s hearing, arguing the bill is an attack on teachers and a waste of legislative time.

“We should be working on funding K-12 education, not punishing educators,” said Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle, who called the bill “retaliatory”.

As Governor Inslee said, the Legislature isn't getting its work done so some in the Legislature should not be pointing fingers.


Anonymous said...

Inslee is giving back his 5K to schools. Maybe Microsoft, Amazon, and Boeing can throw in a matching 5K.


mirmac1 said...

I want to make sure readers have seen this analysis of bills in the Special Session relating to graduation and testing. David Spring has his take on HB 2214 and SB 6122 on his blog:

I agree with him that SB 6122 is a great start. Write your Senator today!

Anonymous said...

Teachers need to get their act together and mobilize. Parents need to mobilize.

A walk downtown on a sunny day chatting or some blogging isn't going to cut it.

I did a little GOTV work in November and don't remember any teachers at the phones or canvassing. Garfield students, Ingraham and Hale students, parents of kids, lots of SEIU members and nurses. The gov, Sen. murray, Speaker Chopp making the rounds, but didn't hear anything about the SEA or the WEA.

Not that teachers should do all the heavy lifting. Parents should be mobilizing, it's their kids. I say a mass action in Olympia to shut that place down until they obey the darn law. Meet outrageous behavior with outrage.

Fed Up

Anonymous said...

@ Fed Up

A more effective civil disobedience may be to refuse to send our children to school.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Fed Up, parents in the state can do a couple of things.

1) opt out of much testing as possible. That will get their attention.

2) not vote for school levies - that WILL really get the attention of districts who, in turn, will go to the Legislature.

Anonymous said...

The problem, Melissa, is that most of the stuff we can do feeds into the narrative they are trying to create to wrest control of the school districts from parents and give it to centralized authorities that the ed reform millionaires can better control. "See, Seattle can't even pass levies! The School Board is ineffective! We need more competent management! Let's put the mayor in control!"

I don't have a great answer, but am hoping that we parents and citizens who care about public education, public schools, and kids will come up with one soon.


Anonymous said...

Anyone know what to do if I opted my child out of Spring testing and the school administered it anyways?

@ Jan - I agree with your points here. What can be done though? The system appears impermeable to input and change.


Anonymous said...


I am not a very savvy political animal. So I don't really have a good answer. But here is what I think (misguided and vague though it may be).

1. We pay attention to (and get involved -- with time if we have no money -- in both school board elections and City council elections. (Mayor elections too, though the effect of ed reform money will be harder to counter there, as it is tied to a host of other pro-business, pro-downtown issues that influence the way that voters view candidates (a good reason why the schools should have their OWN elected reps).

2. We get more involved in state legislative elections (Exhibit 1 -- Pettigrew and Tomiko-Santos). We can't control who districts outside Seattle send to Olympia, but bear responsibility (at least I think I do) for the travesties who currently representing us on educational policy.

3. At a national level, it is currently a desert -- neither party is supporting policies that truly value and invest in public education, so all we can do is send letters to educators trying to undo as much damage as possible and wait for one of the parties to come to its senses.

4. IF we vote no on levies, we need to try to do so in a way that cannot be misinterpreted. This will probably require the creation (or use of an existing) education policy organization to try to frame the narrative around the vote (and to push back against what will be the predictable attempt of ed reformers to use the "disaster" of a failed levy to further their agenda.

Other than that -- I don't know. Tea in the nearest harbor, maybe?