Thursday, January 10, 2008

I-728 and Dino Rossi

So who knew? This op-ed appeared in today's PI by Mary Lindquist, a teacher and president of the WEA. It is about - what else - the Legislature fully funding education. But a new wrinkle (at least to me) appeared:

"Despite the outpouring of public support for the initiatives(I-728 and I-732), Dino Rossi, as Senate Ways and Means chairman, wrote a budget that suspended both initiatives for two years. The will of the voters was ignored. Today, Rossi boasts about that budget on his Web site and on the campaign trail. As a result of that budget, class sizes stagnated and educators lost $680 million in salaries (compounded).

Today our state has $1.4 billion in budget reserves, nearly half of which came from those cuts in educators' salaries.

Gov. Chris Gregoire's recent supplemental state budget proposal did not include salary restoration or additional money for class size."

She sums it up nicely:

"Washington schools need to offer competitive salaries to attract and retain highly qualified teachers. Students need smaller class sizes so all students receive the kind of individual attention they need to be prepared for college and to enter the work world. We are asking the impossible if we expect schools and educators to prepare students for a more demanding future without investing more in their education today."

Amen sister.


Anonymous said...

Didn't Rossi resign in 2003 when he stepped down to run for Governor?


And wasn't the money restored in the 2005 budget according to the PI?

The spending plan would restore money for Initiative 728 and Initiative 732, which voters overwhelmingly approved in 2000.

I-728 provides extra per-pupil funding that districts can use for class-size reductions, staff development, extended learning programs and other initiatives. The budget would increase I-728 money from the current level of $254 to $450 per pupil by the 2008-09 school year.


In 2005 Seattle spent $8,999 per student
Spokane also did not make AYP although they spent $7,790 ( yet their students came closer to making AYP )


Im not advocating for additional funds until I have some evidence that it is going into the classrooms.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think the point of the article was that the money lost in those years was not ever put back even though both went back into effect. (This is how I understand it.) But yes, the issue we go round and round on is what are the I-728 funds being used for in SPS and is it what parents want?

Charlie Mas said...

The guest column rather clumsily tried to pin the suspension of I-728 spending on Dino Rossi, as if he were solely responsible for the decision.

It was a ham-handed attempt to smear a politician and possible candidate for governor. A lot of other politicians voted for that budget and a governor endorsed it. They are all due their share of the credit or blame along with Mr. Rossi.

I often read, usually from anonymous sources, the suggestion that added spending on education in Washington would be throwing good money after bad. It is usually expressed in terms like "No more money for education until they start showing some better results with the money they have."

This, I believe, is a wilfully ignorant perspective. It never asks "What is a good result?" or "What is keeping us from achieving a good result?". They should direct their efforts to bringing down those barriers, rather than withholding funding. Those with this perspective typically overweight the spending on non-academic efforts.

I'm reminded of a joke.

Back in the old country there was a man who was a woodcutter. Each day he would drive his horse and cart into the woods and gather wood. Each evening he would drive the horse and cart to town and sell the wood. He made a living this way, if not a good one.

At the end of one day he went to stable his horse and feed it hay and oats, as he did every day. He was disappointed to discover, however, that he was out of oats. So the horse got no oats that night. The man noticed that the next day the horse didn't complain about the lack of oats and pulled the wagon same as ever. What a discovery! The woodcutter then decided that he was a fool to have been buying oats all these years. He vowed to stop buying oats and to add the savings directly to his bottom line.

A week or so later, when he was stabling his horse at the end of the day, the woodcutter was loading the manger with the usual amount of hay, when he had another thought. He reached in, and pulled back a large handful of hay from out of the manger. Again, the horse didn't complain and pulled the wagon just the same as if getting a full ration.

Slowly, slowly, week by week, the woodcutter reduced the horse's rations, thereby reducing his costs and improving his profits.

The day finally came when the horse died. "Damn my luck!" cried the woodcutter. "The horse had to go and die on me now. Just when I got him down to eating nothing at all!"

dan dempsey said...

Anon at 4:26 said...
......I-728 provides extra per-pupil funding that districts can use for class-size reductions, staff development, extended learning programs and other initiatives.

Seattle chooses not to use the money to reduce regular class sizes. Washington has among the largest class sizes in the nation but the SPS uses the I-728 money elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Charlie's comments regarding the guest column.

I wonder, though, if his interpretation of the "willfully ignorant" is correct. It seems to me that perhaps some people (like myself) feel that the question is "Why do some people feel more funding will help us achieve a good result?"

Or, to perhaps turn the question on its ear .... why do people who advocate more funding for schools not ask, "What is keeping us from achieving a good result?" or even "What is a good result?"

Is it a matter of funding? Determination? Unions? Lack of consensus?

We have approved initiatives, school levies, bond measures, family support levies, etc.

If something is not working, not producing the "good results" we want, I'm not sure more money will solve the problem at this point. Maybe in the future, but not now.

Anonymous said...

When PTA's have to fund basic programs, extra teachers so that they can maintain reasonable class size, arts, scholorships, it is clear schools need more funding.

When class size remains at 31 kids per class in many elementarys schools and up to 33 in middle school, it is clear we need more funding.

When schools have to fund raise $200,000 to supplement state and federal funding, it is clear that we need more funding.

When parents have to pay for K to the tune of a couple hundred dollars a month, because the state only pays for 1/2 day k, it is clear that we need more funding.

When every kid in Shoreline middle and high schools gets his/her own laptop to keep for the year, and Seattle kids merely have access to a computer lab, it is clear we need more funding.

When only a handful of schools offer Pre-K because there is not funding for it, it is clear that we need more funding.

We rank at the bottom of the list for class size, and for college ready high school graduates.

Maybe we don't need funding, maybe our current funds are being misused or misappropriated?? That I don't know. What I do know is that our classrooms need more funding, and they need it now!

Anonymous said...

Doesn't Shoreline get those Laptops through a grant outside of state funding? My understanding from my friend in Shoreline is that the school district has been struggling a lot financially and she teaches 5th grade with 32 kids in her class.

Therefore, I completely agree with your points about needing more funding, but don't think you can compare to Shoreline in this case - Shoreline needs more funding too.

Anonymous said...

I have one child in a Seattle elementary and one in a Shoreline middle school.

I don't know how Shoreline funds the laptop program, whether by outside grant or other funding?? What I do know, is that the fund raising expectations and efforts at our Shoreline MS, are much lower than our Seattle Elementary school. Our Seattle school continually push es parents for donations, with fund raiser after fund raiser after fund raiser. Shoreline has not done this. At our Shoreline middle school we have a couple of small annual fund raisers like an age appropriate stand-up comedy night, a rummage sale, and when we have all school gatherings we pass a hat around to collect donations (usually fairly small $5-$100 per family), but they don't have fancy $200,000 auctions like our Seattle school, and no huge annual fund campaign like our Seattle school.

The school fund raising total last year at our 690 kid shoreline middle school was about 27,000. At our 500 kid elementary in Seattle, it was over 225,000. That's a HUGE difference.

I know people think of Shoreline as a very middle class area, but Kellogg, the middle school that our older child attends, is much much more diverse ethnically and socio-economically than our Seattle elementary school.

Shoreline is certainly not rolling in the dough, and face many challenges too. They have the same large class size issues that Seattle has, as well as a shrinking enrollment. But somehow they manage very well with the limited funding that they have. This certainly makes me wonder how our money is being spent in Seattle??

How do they do it with the same state and federal funding, and much less fund raising?? Is City of Shoreline funding appropriate $$$???

Where are the dollars going in Seattle??

Anonymous said...

I have noticed a difference in fundraising between our SPS elementary & middle school as well.

Some of the differences are that our elementary PTSA pays for things like playground supervision, tutoring, nursing, teacher supplies, field trips & instrumental music. The PTSA budget also contains $ from fee based programs like pay-for-K, chess club, drama, & camp.

At our middle school parents pay for each field trip. We are asked to send in periodic checks to teachers for classroom supplies and make separate donations to the library & the sports program. Each of the music programs has their own fundraising volunteers that are not associated with the PTSA. The student council raises as much or more than the PTSA to support student activities, organizations & clubs. Activity fees are not managed through the PTSA.

The middle school PTSA budget is much less than our elementary PTSA budget was, but in the end I am not sure that our middle school is actually depending on fewer parent dollars.

Slice of Mid-Life said...

This also news to me.

Don't know if you saw my editorial on the subject in Wednesday's Seattle Times.

I'd like class size and education funding to remain key elements in our ongoing public debate about Seattle schools.

Anonymous said...

At our Shoreline middle school we do not pay for, or donate money for our music program. The district funds it 100%. We do pay a small fee for sports and some electives ($10-15) if our children participate, to cover uniforms and materials.

We do not make donations to the library, and have never been asked to do so. Nor, do we pay for field trips (our son hasn't gone on any), and not for teachers supplies either.

Why do we do it in Seattle???

Other than what I mentioned above, an annual rummage sale, an annual stand up comedy night, and a pass the hat at all school get events, we have no other fund raising.


Anonymous said...

I do not know what the funding differences are between Seattle & Shoreline middle schools. I would be interested to see if the weighted student formula makes a difference between the per pupil funding for Eckstein & Kellogg.

That is the reason given for the fundraising at our school.

Anonymous said...

I just read Flagship, the Shoreline District newsletter.

This may hold some of the answers to how Shoreline funds many things that Seattle does not.

"Through community outreach, annual fundraising events, and local and regional grants, the Shoreline Public Schools Foundation is able to provide a perpetual funding source for vital programs in our schools, programs that are normally beyond the financial limits of the Shoreline School District"

Also, they talk about the Shoreline Public Schools Foundation a lot. The Foundation pays for stipends for specialists like webmasters, scholorships for the laptop initiative, field trips for 2-4th graders, district music festival, career education, security radios, some arts instruction, and some textbooks. They also funded many regular and annual buiding goal and classroom grants, help pay for classroom supplies and class fees.

In addition to the Foundation funding, the district funds the following:
full time nurses, full time librarians and a half time family advocate. This is interesting because Seattle does not do this. We fundraise to pay for .5 nurse and .5 librarian at my Seattle Elementary school.