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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

In Local Education News

The three horsemen of the roadkill Dems have written an op-ed in the Times to justify their actions.   Really, they are just courageous men standing up to - gasp! - the status quo. 

Do I think the Dems' budget was perfect?  Of course not.  But I think you do NOT throw in a totally new budget late into a Friday night, without any public review or input, and then expect everyone to believe your motives.  

Meanwhile over at the Washington State Budget &Policy Center, they ask these questions:

- Provide food for 12,000 hungry kids ($14 million) OR provide preferential B&O tax rates for wholesalers of prescription drugs? ($14 million)

- Help parents find and keep jobs, access affordable child care, and afford housing ($200 million) OR give tax breaks to the aerospace industry and exempt microbreweries from the beer excise tax? ($197 million)

- Guarantee a high-quality education for our children ($40 million) OR grant a sales tax deferral for technology businesses? ($35.4 million)

- Keep women healthy during pregnancy, promote positive birth outcomes, and reduce the amount of unintended pregnancies ($6 million) OR provide restaurants a credit for taxes paid on soft drink syrup? ($8.3 million)

Bill Lyne of the United Faculty of Washington State puts it pretty well on the subject of Senator Rodney Tom:

Senator Tom was particularly quiet Friday night. His support for the Zarelli budget is particularly disheartening for those of us in higher education. We’ve always hoped that Senator Tom, as chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, would somehow see his way clear to genuinely supporting our state’s outstanding universities and colleges. In the budget that Senate Democrats presented last week (the budget that people actually got to read and testify about), Senators Ed Murray, Lisa Brown and Derek Kilmer showed a lot of leadership and courage in finally proposing no more cuts to education. As Senator Tom sat down with his Republican pals to write the coup budget, we would have hoped that he would have insisted, as the chair of Higher Education, that another $38 million not be cut from an already decimated system. As the 25th and deciding vote, you’d think he could’ve gotten at least that in the deal.

The Dems need to pull this committee chairmanship from Rodney Tom.

And voters need to remember that Senator Jim Kastama was part of this group when you see his name on the ballot for Secretary of State.   

Lastly, there is suspicion out there that Senator Tom did this because if the Legislature cannot reach an agreement by tomorrow, the last day of the session, he can then bring back his flawed charter bill during a special legislative session.  

Good luck with that Senator. 

20 comments:

Tina said...

So glad you are zeroing on Senator Tom who seems to be a wolf in the henhouse. Cook his goose is what I have advocated since last year when he pretended to uphold the interests of this state in k-12 ed. His lackadaisical attitude toward higher ed is no surprise. Hang him if you can get him and make him suffer a bit as his ilk has made many-a-teacher squirm.

dan dempsey said...

Let us not forget about the unfunded mandate placed upon public schools.... The legislature decided to adopt the Common Core State Standards but place almost all the burden on Local School Districts .... to the tune of $165 million minimum over 5 years...

That is a cool $33 million a year .coming out of district funds... for more standards more testing and less teaching of students.

Anyone who thinks different standards and more tests are going to make any positive difference is delusional.... The End of Course math tests will disappear so we will be back to knowing very little about student performance and actual math skills that were to be acquired in particular courses.

Lets spend $33 million a year for a lousy product .... how much for professional D to install this fiasco?

Meanwhile Tom thinks Charters and Value Added Evaluation is the way to go.... This guy does not read much.

KG said...

Like I have said before on this blog that the Aerospace giant is the #1 priority of this state and this is why public education is funded so poorly.

I call it BOMBING not Boeing.

Anonymous said...

Oh for pete sake, Tom is from Medina. Don't think he is going anywhere soon unless they run a Mitt/Santorum clone against him. So yes, cuts to "social spending" and govn't subsidies, oops, I mean tax cuts/credits for businesses. That's the mantra over there. What did we expect? That's the "new" pull yourself up by your J. M. Weston boostrap" democrat for you.

-ode to the "new" democrat.

Anonymous said...

How about some coverage on Prof. Mass's proposal about getting more teachers?

http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2012/03/potential-source-of-k-12-science-and.html

-- Mike on Yesler Creek

Sahila said...

You miss the point IF YOU EXPECT THESE LEGISLATORS TO DECIDE AND ACT USING LOGIC AND DATA...

There is nothing wrong with their capacity for logic and they do understand the data - they are not stupid...

the welfare of our society as a whole, the community, our children IS NOT THEIR CONCERN...

pushing/enacting the agenda of those who fund them is...

look around you - its happening all over this country; why would Washington/Seattle be any different?

Oh I wish people would finally accept this, and deal with the world as it is, rather than as we wish it was...

only way to change any of this is to call it for what it is and actively confront it - and writing/phoning your legislators is not going to do it.... TAKE IT TO THE STREETS...

KG said...

I agree Sahila. There is just to much wilful ignorance.

Anonymous said...

If you are going to get politicians votes, you are gonna have to show them your wallet. Mine's not big enough to buy $1000 plate at their fundraisers (think venture capitalist's investment). If you have the money, then yeah, data, common sense, and logic will work magic and have great power of persuasion. For the rest of us taxpaying, working Jane and John Doe's... we're allowed to exist and tolerated to a (cost/benefit) point because we're the golden goose.

voter

Anonymous said...

As a parent looking at colleges for 2013, I am reluctant to commit to a WA State college (or CA State colleges) since funding does not seem to be on the upswing in the near future. Sure, tuition is lower than at private schools, but tuition and class sizes keep rising, class offerings keep diminishing (resulting in the need for 5 years in college in at least some cases), and freshmen/sophomores will be lucky to see a full professor standing in front of the class—more likely a TA or Grad student.

Private colleges offer a lot of financial aid and schools in BC are affordable in comparison. Our legislature seems to be doing its best to keep the electorate uniformed and unemployable.

Feeling grumpy today...
Solvay

Anonymous said...

I noticed on the LEV blog they have a comparison of the dem budget and the rep budget, and it makes it look like the Rs are equal on education funding. They neglect to note the delay of 24 hours in payments set up in the D budget, which results in districts getting the money, just a day later. Yes, this is a budgeting gimmick, but the fact that they don't mention it at all is disturbing to me, and really makes it seem like they are trying to support Rodney Tom's budget shenanigans. I'm now on board with the idea that LEV knew what he was going to do.

I do want to note to "ode to the new democrat" that while Tom is from Medina, the 48th is far more diverse than Medina. It is definitely not a world of Mitt/Santorum supporters. I think it is very likely that someone could beat him if they highlight this huge cut to education that he supports.

-In the 48th

Catherine said...

@ Solvay - Different Washington public universities approach these financial times differently. Look at how WSU has responded, as compared to the UW. Very different freshman experiences resulted.

Po3 said...

I think there are some great public university options out there if you are able to think out of the box a bit. (i.e. beyond the UW). The universities of Montana and Idaho are good schools, ready to offer your student a great package and education.

Personally, I laugh at the thought of handing a small liberal arts college $40K to $50K a year. I would give that money to my kids - for travel, to start a business, to buy a home - the kind of things that I think could make a tangible difference in their lives.

Disgusted said...

In the 48th, I believe LEV will support Tom's shenanigans because he is carrying their water.

K-12 cannot sustain any further cuts. I'm so disappointed that our teachers are being pressured while funding/ support is eliminated. I'm so disappointed for the kids within the system; there are not enough resources to give them what they need.

We have a legislature that is willing to cut ed. funding despite
a Wa. State Supreme court decision. We have citizens crying CUT! Then, we have LEV and WSPTSA pushing charters. Where are they on funding?

So disappointed.

Anonymous said...

We are keeping all options open. I know a number of kids who got great financial aid at the independent schools, bringing out of pocket costs more in line with publics. Oregon schools look good, and British Columbia as well. Travel time and costs are major considerations as well. The school has to be a good fit for the kid too. We've got about a year to make decisions, we'll see how things go. People are still liking Western. It's just sad to see WA State, cutting this important resource. Very sad to see the film school at Seattle Central being shut down; it provided a great education.

I think it's going to take a major drop in applications to make our leg. do something about higher ed. Right now, they don't have to because the schools are still turning people away.
Solvay

Disappointed said...

I was just over at LEV's site. Check out the March 7th entry. They did a good job breaking down enormous Senate cuts to education. There was a chance to get a budget out of the Senate that didn't cut education- until Tom and his buddies decided to eliminate that option. What happens from here is anyone's guess.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's an idea for a great, little liberal arts college that is in your price range: Fairhaven at Western Washington University.

And yes, while it is true that these private colleges like Reed or Whitman have big, scary price tags in that $40-50,000 range (or higher), that's not really the out-of-pocket cost for most students to attend. I'm not going to pretend they are cheap, but few reading this blog would actually pay full retail.

dan dempsey said...

What happens from here is anyone's guess ... NO Doubt.

WA State is currently violating the constitutional rights of roughly 1,000,000 students by failing to adequately fund public schools. The WA Supreme court says it is OK to continue this violation for another six years.

Clearly the Senate budget is designed to continue the violation of constitutional rights of students.

Legislators take an oath to uphold the Constitution of WA State .... but no they do not take that oath seriously .... nor does the WA Supreme court make the legislators take either their oath or the constitution seriously.

Anonymous said...

Yup..hearing good things about both Fairhaven and Western's traditional program. It's definitely on the list.

And Charlie is right—few, if any, middle class families will pay full retail at a private college. Lewis & Clark said only 20% pay full tuition without financial aid. If the price tags for state schools keep going up and quality suffers, more and more students will go out of state and/or to private colleges. I know a student who just got offered a good merit scholarship to Seattle University—so private college is not always out of reach.
Solvay

Anonymous said...

Yup..hearing good things about both Fairhaven and Western's traditional program. It's definitely on the list.

And Charlie is right—few, if any, middle class families will pay full retail at a private college. Lewis & Clark said only 20% pay full tuition without financial aid. If the price tags for state schools keep going up and quality suffers, more and more students will go out of state and/or to private colleges. I know a student who just got offered a good merit scholarship to Seattle University—so private college is not always out of reach.
Solvay

Anonymous said...

Tom and co. can hide all they want behind pragmatism and ed reform, but the point is they were willing to cut thousands of people off health care and life saving supportive services...yet not bothering to ask similar sacrifices from the business community that continues to benefit from tax loopholes and credits. I don't know what motivates Sen. Tom's move, whether if it's based on genuine belief for his ed reform ideas or if he believes in small government at least when it comes to helping vulnerable people, but lack the same standard for corporate welfare. But if you crunch your number for his support of the Republican budget, he's willing to let basic ed and kids takes some serious hits through education and social services cut, then you have to wonder how about his good intentions.

Are the benefits of having 10 charter schools serving 2000 kids worth cutting basic ed to a million school age kids in this state? If he truly believes in helping "disadvantaged" kids, then why allow vulnerable kids and their families suffer greater consequences by the Republican budget? If it is just a political powerplay for negotiation, then it comes at what cost?

The irony to all of this, I don't hold much faith in the Democratic party either. When I see that Washington state lottery brings in revenue of $523 million in 2011 and only $150 million is given to the state mainly fo reducation, BUT the other $370 million is for prize money, commissions, and HUGH admin cost, well you have to wonder at the whole system. The governor instead proposed a temporary 1/2 cent tax over 3 years to get $500 million. Rigggght! This is just one example of stupidity and why people don't trust our government. Or for that matter why even charitable groups with good intentions miss their mark. Take Crosscut article on attempts to reach out to certain immigrant S. Seattle communities to better improve their health outcomes. Sounds laudable as it talks about the noble intentions of the groups and people involved (Swedish, Gates, PATH, UW) in reaching out to these communities whose health indices are similar to Nairobi's (they could have just compared to parts of Alabalma and Miss instead). Yet in the soft sell about heath education and preventive care, no discussion about the fed and state cuts closing some of these community health clinics or limiting hours of operations. No discussion about the problem of finding sufficient MDs, NPs, to take these indigent patients. No discussion about lack of access to dental care, eye care, mammogram, family planning, etc. You can educate all you want about health prevention, but at some point you need to provide the services to make sure their health is actually taken care of.

The real truth is politicians may talk about making hard decisions, but ONLY if the hard decisions affect the most vulnerable. The rest is all talk and making the easy decisions. The sad part is people of good will like the Gates suffer from beng surrounded by well spoken, educated, "safe" data by the science people who are good at selling their heartfelt products and window dressing their innovative solutions as being effective. It's his billions and he can do what he wants. I just wish his generosity did not come with so many unintended consequences the rest of us must live, chafe, and suffer under. He has many admirers who are emulating him and killing us with kindess- so to speak.

voter