To Tax or Not to Tax (That is the Question)

At least that's how KUOW frames it in reporting that the current Special Session of the Washington State Legislature will end tomorrow.  Without a budget.  And needing another session.  That costs taxpayers dollars.

Additionally, the bill that made it out of the House, overwhelmingly, in order to pause the use of passage of a high school science test for graduation, didn't make it out of the Senate Education committee.  Their chair says they'll work on this topic at another time.  Oh.

I would hope that the Republican and Democratic House and Senate leaders would understand how this looks to the public. 

It looks childish and ridiculous and like maybe some of you need to be voted out. 


Anonymous said…
20 years ago I thought sawing down 2nd growth forest for public school revenue was a pretty sketchy funding mechanism. Never in my wildest dreams did I guess that state Republicans would, in 2015, be suggesting marijuana tax as the prime $$ contributor to McCleary.

Without a state income tax or capital gains tax this state just continues down the Rabbit Hole.


mirmac1 said…
HB 2214 goes down in flames. But not before the WAPTSA gives its unswerving support. Who are these people?!
Carla Santorno had an op-ed in a newspaper (I forget which one) pleading for it to be passed.
Lynn said…
It was the Tacoma News Tribune. She said 17% of this year's seniors in her district haven't passed the biology test and are in danger of not graduating.
mirmac1 said…
Tonight the board crafted a strong resolution against the SBAC and other state testing requirements. Finally.
TheGoodFight said…
The school system should be able to impart a high level of knowledge in the required subjects needed for students to graduate on time. We should require at least a score of 80% in all areas to pass and graduate. For decades this district has been spiting out students who can barely read, write or perform basic math. Classroom grades can't be used to determine competency, because it's been proven they are subjective and in many cases inflated.

We have students where the K-5s failed to teach them, so the district simply moves them along to middle school. The middle school never contacts the K-5 to ask why the 6 graders are not prepared..No No that would rock the boat. The middle school then tries (Ha) to re-mediate the issues, but fails, so on to high school the student goes. The high school never contacts the middle school to ask why they have a 9th grader who can't read or write, No No teachers don't tattle on other teachers. This scenario is repeated year after year. SPS likes to label these students as having behavioral problems for appearances. JHC who would not have some sort of issue after being neglected for years by a system build for the soul purpose of educating you.

It looks to me that we have a mutli class system where some students are subject to very rigorous curriculum and testing with the rest being deemed incapable and must be saved from testing.

Is the SBAC the answer? probably not, but either is waiting until 11th or 12th grade to find out your students are lacking the basics and won't pass the required tests.

The district employees need to grow up and realize public education is not about them, they have an important role in the system, but they are not the center of the universe.
Anonymous said…
Dear GoodFight,
Check out what Florida accomplished over the last 10 years. It's the only state to have demonstrated statistically significant improvement on NAEP testing.

Two big things Florida did were:
#1 smaller class size
#2 greatly improved k-3 education with a focus on reading to pass reading competency test to advance to grade 4.

Requirement #2 greatly improved grades 4 through 8 education as students possessed skills to do the work and learn efficiently.

-- Dan Dempsey
"The middle school never contacts the K-5 to ask why the 6 graders are not prepared..No No that would rock the boat."

Not true. I know for a fact that most middle schools have contact with the elementaries in their region. Ditto on the high schools to middle school.
TheGoodFight said…
There's no doubt that smaller class size coupled with evidence based curriculum implemented by skilled teachers is the answer to improve student outcomes.

SPS has been doing just the opposite for the last decade. There are a few exceptions where SPS created schools within schools attended by a select group. Sure they advertise the programs are open to all, but that's simply the whole truth.

Let's fund smaller class size in K-5 by first reducing administrative cost. Lets fund more teacher pay by reducing transportation cost. Lets make every student a priority and reward teachers who demonstrate results.
TheGoodFight said…

You might know that, but apparently it's only you. I have made no less than 3 PIR asking for that information. SPS legal could find nothing, no policies, no emails, no documents. So if you have proof that some sort of feedback is consistently happening please post it.
Patrick said…
It's not a question of whether to tax, it's who to tax and how.
Anonymous said…
Of course there are some students the K-5s "failed" to teach. Maybe the school tried to teach them, but the student had PTSD or any number of issues that a lack of social support network (including not a single school counselor) produces. Maybe the school had an abundance of bad teachers. Maybe the school had an abundance of children living in poverty (a huge predictor of failure). Poor curriculum makes it all that much worse, as does large class sizes.

I don't make excuses. I am also a realist. Sometimes parents need to know their child won't be promoted to Grade Four if the student isn't reading at level. Accountability is lacking across the board. Retention "doesn't work." But it looks like the threat of retention may have some clout.

That's why Dan Dempsey referred you to the Florida study.

Whole Language was in vogue long before ten years ago and it didn't work. The educational world is full of pendulums and snake oil.

Your sentiment sounds very sincere, you speak common sense--but what's your point? We all know these things already and they are the very issues that Bill Gates has been trying to unilaterally solve by imposition and trial by fire.

Until education attracts the better college students (by making it a worthwhile profession), this society values children (and doesn't have almost as many in poverty as Romania), there is accountability for lack of school performance (for students/parents and districts--administrators and teachers), schools aren't ghettoized by income, schools have wrap-around services because children are viewed systemically (along with medical and social service networks)--there won't be significant changes (in my opinion).

Society needs to start caring about all of its children--by action--not lip service and taking NYTimes tests to see if we "are right about the poor kids" and then moving on to the next cup of Starbucks. Having middle school teachers tell the elementary teachers the kids aren't performing won't help--the elementary schools already knew this and were obligated to pass them on.

--enough already

Anonymous said…
I am intrigued at how HB2214 is being promoted as the end of the Bio EOC, which will mean all those seniors can graduate after all. Interesting battle cry when the truth is that HB2214 entrenches the Math and ELA SBAC and soon the Science SBAC as the tests students have to pass to graduate.

HB2214 would make 11th grade the year of "THE TEST" as students would be required to sit for three SBAC tests in the spring (in addition to AP/IB, SAT/ACT exams).

Based on what I have seen this year, SBAC is a poorly designed test that requires a lot of technology to administer, hours of test prep and hours of lost class instruction.

I am pleased that the Senate tabled it for now as I think once the test results are in for this test cycle legislators will need to take a second look at using SBAC tests as the gatekeeper to graduation.

10th-grade parent
TheGoodFight said…
Honestly I wasn't trying to be rhetorical. A complex system like SPS needs a clear vision. The vision statement needs to be reaching, but not impossible. It's the device you use to align your polices and come back to when things go astray.

As parents we do need to be realistic in our expectations, but we also need to see transparency in others decisions. I believe we can insure all students leave K-5 fully prepared for 6th grand and the next phase in learning. No more excesses.

Numerous studies confirm the importance of effective K-5 education and those studies clearly document the negative "knock on effect" when students are not prepared, but are administratively promoted. Just look at the local multimillion dollar tutoring industry, those that can afford it, get some level of remediation. Those who's families can't afford remediation end up in high school without a chance.

It's going to be far less expensive to insure 5th graders are ready to move forward than trying to play catch-up over the next 6 years.
"It's not a question of whether to tax, it's who to tax and how."

That's it in a nutshell for anyone who wants to be realistic about the here and now.
Anonymous said…
What happens when we require minimum test scores to graduate?

A Realist
TheGoodFight said…
Some new level of taxation might be needed overtime, but there's a lot of cost cutting in administration that needs to be done first. Those savings should go straight into K-5 classrooms. I'm interested in knowing how the numerous private schools function without the same huge administrative overhead that exist in SPS. To be fair (who me) I don't think the excessive administrative cost would be in question if things were operating smoothly.

I'm personally opposed to any new level of property taxes on homes. I think we are at the breaking point and you can't stop using your home like you can with a car. Every politician in this city thinks my house is the cities piggy bank and that needs to stop. It's puzzling how Americans will donate billions of dollars to all sort of causes around the world when in many cases only pennies on the dollar reaches the people in need. Cant each scrape together a few dollars for our local school children (not counting PTA)that's available to all schools?

I get hit up every month with calls for donations for firemen, the state patrol and count-less other charities. So why can't we get a few million for school supplies? Why should teachers keep using their own cash?

I asked a few people if they would be willing to give directly to schools and many home owners believed they where all ready paying too much in property taxes and believed it was due to school levies. Renters don't seem to make the connection and falsely believe property taxes don't impact them, so they are more likely to vote yes for more taxation. I understand we need a stable funding model, but many charities have been successfully using the "direct appeal" funding method for decades.

Is there some reason we can't make a direct appeal to the people of Seattle to help with supply cost, build a school room or build a entire new school?
lemon said…
Does Seattle have anything similar to the Northshore Schools Foundation?
I'm personally opposed to any new level of property taxes on homes. I think we are at the breaking point and you can't stop using your home like you can with a car. Every politician in this city thinks my house is the cities piggy bank and that needs to stop

Good Fight, I do think we will hit a wall with all these city levies. I like libraries, parks, schools, emergency equipment, etc. but I just don't see how it is all sustainable. Poor people and seniors are the most impacted.

The Alliance for Education could do that kind of direct appeal but they never do.
Anonymous said…
"I'm interested in knowing how the numerous private schools function without the same huge administrative overhead that exist in SPS." The Good Fight

Need to clarify - if you mean excessive JSC staff and "coaches" who should be teaching (if they're really good enough to "coach") then yes, I agree.

Hopefully the comment is on that level of admin overhead and not on-site supports such as school counselors, social workers, health support (although some of that at time bothers me), truancy specialists, etc. Having spent about 1/2 each in public/private school myself I can assure you that in the public schools many of my students wouldn't have lasted a year (some a semester) in the private high schools I attended. The public schools have to (more or less) try to teach all students - even those who openly say in parent/staff meetings that they think they're "not going to try harder" or "don't care" and/or are trying to fail a school so their parents will let them change schools, etc.

I always get nervous when private vs. public school comparisons are made because it is much more expensive to even try to teach students who don't want to learn.

TheGoodFight said…
How is more expensive to teach a child who doesn't want to learn? Is it more expensive to bus a student who doesn't want to ride on the bus. Isn't the bus going from point A to point B regardless?

Does the teacher's pay increase with every student in the class who doesn't want to be there? Isn't the teacher going to instruct the class regardless?

Do "I don't want to learn" books cost more?

Yep it's all the students fault, has nothing to do with the system.
Lynn said…
I'd guess it takes more time and attention to create a relationship with that student so that they want to learn. Education isn't something you do to kids, it's the result of joint efforts of the student and teacher. Taking the time to create that relationship requires smaller classes. Smaller classes require more money.

JR is right, if all students showed up well rested, well fed, socialized and with a rich vocabulary, our schools would need less staff.
TheGoodFight said…
Yes I'm all in for smaller class sizes funded from drastically lowering administrative cost which includes eliminating questionable buses. The city should start putting money where it's mouth is and start creating truly safe walking routes for students. Running buses 1.5 miles is ridiculous. I don't need a lecture on the dangers of high traffic areas and no sidewalks, because I live in one of the worst areas for children to walk. Considering we are spending over 10 billion on various projects, can't build a few side walks or pedestrian overpasses for our kids. Personally I'll take a few pedestrian overpass vs other projects. If the kids can walk we can reduce busing, hiring one new teacher for every two buses we eliminate.

We will still need some new classrooms what do those cost?.

In Seattle, a nonprofit organization known as the SEED Collaborative designed a modular classroom that qualifies for the Living Building Challenge, the world’s most rigorous standard in sustainable building. The classroom boasts net-zero water and energy. It collects rainwater, composts waste and recycles water into a vertical garden along one of the classroom’s walls.

It costs around $200,000 — double what a SAGE classroom costs and four times more than the price of a low-end traditional portable.

We painted a few of the portables brought in to Thornton Creek and I think they said the cost for each portable was around $100,000 move in ready. I was shocked at the price tag. Parents still had to do a lot of work even though they were "move in ready"

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