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Thursday, April 25, 2013

What Do We Spend Our Education Dollars On?

Apparently there is some confusion out there about how education dollars are spent, particularly among conservatives.

Over at Crosscut, they have been doing some good reporting on this year's legislative session.  (FYI, it is supposed to end on Sunday but odds are they will not reach agreement on the budget and have a (costly) special session.)

Reporter John Stang's article about the Dems and what they are trimming from their budget was useful reading.  One quote that is pertinent to this thread was this one:

"We don't need new taxes. We've got plenty of money for education," said Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama.

"We have to have the courage to fund education first and say 'no' to the other people," Orcutt said.

Really Rep. Orcutt?  And we will have more for education by taking away from public health including homeless people?   That's one way to find the money.

Here's an opposing view:

We're asking some businesses to invest in public education. I very much think this is a very wise investment in public education," Carlyle said. Democrats also argued that improved education would help the state economically. "Our economic success is based on lifting all people up," said Rep Chris Reykdal, D-Olympia.

Then, over at the Washington Policy Center, they have an article, "School Managers Short Teachers on Classroom supplies.  Where does the Money Go?"

The people provide a $16 billion budget for education, and increase it every year, and still school administrators can't find the money to provide teachers with Sharpies and other basics. Now that is crazy. Where DOES the money go?

First, every single district's budget is available for public review so I'd check there first if you are really that fired up about this issue.

Nex -bulletin to ed reformers - teacher evaluations, assessments and data warehouses cost money.  Did you somehow forget that?  That's where your money is going. 

Here's what Stang reports is happening in the Legislature:

Washington House Democrats have trimmed their education improvements budget from almost $1.34 billion to $1.16 billion.

That is in contrast the Republican-oriented Senate's $1 billion education fix-it proposal going into budget talks to begin later this week.

The Dems backed off on an expiring beer tax, fearing a bitter fight from the beer industry.

The Senate, which is Republican controlled, passed their education bill on Tuesday.  It would:

...permanently eliminate a frequently suspended cost-of-living raise for teachers under Initiative 732, plus shift $166 million from the "common schools fund" to help pay for the Senate's $1 billion education fix-it plan.  

I want everyone to keep in mind that, as voters, we all work hard for initiatives we believe in.  Our Constitution allows this process so that voters can have another method (other than legislators) to achieve their wishes.

So it's frustrating to work for/against something, it passes and then the Legislature stops funding it as soon as they can.  And, in this case, it decides to just eliminate it altogether.

The second part of what the Republicans want to do - take money specifically earmarked for school construction and put it in the General Fund (which would, in turn, pay for McCleary).

Kind of robbing Peter to pay Paul because I don't even need to ask; I am certain that in every single corner of this state, we have failing school buildings.   And,

Democrats in both chambers argue that money is constitutionally limited to construction, and the shift is unconstitutional. Republicans say the shift is constitutional. One clause appears to envision shifts when construction needs are met.

My question is not where the money goes but I truly wish I could have one ed reformer explain what they would spend money on for public education and what they would cut from current public education funding.

What is it that districts are spending money that the Legislature thinks is wrongly spent?  That's my question.

3 comments:

A-mom said...

Is Carlyle referring to these businesses paying more taxes, or investing,and gaining power in the public school system like Gates and friends?

Melissa Westbrook said...

A-mom, I'd have to ask but I think it's about paying taxes.

John Smith said...

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