Friday, October 20, 2017

Stranger Guest Editorial Channels Princess Leia on McCleary

Remember the original first movie of Star Wars?  What does Princess Leia's message say:

This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.

At The Stranger, Washington's Paramount Duty's Summer Stinson and Kathryn Russell Selk channel that thought:

In reality, the legislature failed. The Supreme Court must save us now. They're our only hope.

The details:
Locally, Seattle Public Schools staff discovered that the district is worse off financially under the new scheme. In 2020-21, SPS expects to have $92 less per student per year than today. Instead of “amply” funding the actual costs of basic education, as the constitution requires, the new plan leaves SPS with a $5.5 million deficit for next school year, an $11.8 million deficit the following year, $24.2 million in 2020-21 and exponential growth projected every year afterward. At the same time, Seattle residents will pay more for education, courtesy of huge new property tax bills.

SPS is not alone in sounding the alarm. Tacoma’s district estimates losing $151 per student per year. Klickitat estimates a loss of about 8 percent of its entire operating budget. Across the state, many of the smaller districts which have relied on high levies to fund basics will get less, not more, funding for education under the brand new “plan.”
In our brief, we explain how the new education funding plan is not ample, doesn’t cover the actual costs to run schools, does not provide for every child, and does not rely on regular and dependable tax sources.

Their calculations show that the new plan will actually result in at least a $25 billion shortfall in education funding within ten years, much of it hitting our most vulnerable kids hardest.

These are not the only problems with the new “plan.” The state constitution requires regular and dependable sources of paying for education. This means new, progressive revenue streams—capital gains, cutting business tax loopholes, or even an income tax, if you’re feeling bold. 
State legislators shied away from those tools. Instead they simply moved money around in a slightly modified version of the so-called "levy swap" promoted by Senate Republicans and their allies at the Washington Roundtable. The result is far less money than needed to bring our aging, crumbling school system up to speed after years of savage underfunding.

The legislature also failed to address racial equity—both in the sources of funding and how it is spent. By socking residents with a regressive property tax increase, the legislature maintains a tax system that taxes our richest residents, who are mostly white, at a much lower percentage than our poorest residents, who are disproportionately people of color. 
Who else is weighing in?
Among those who also crunched the numbers and found the state’s plan highly wanting are the NAACP, Chinese Information Service Center, Multicultural Education Rights Alliance, United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, and the Southeast Seattle Education Coalition. They also filed a brief in McCleary, raising stark concerns about how the last-minute “plan” shortchanges funding for learning assistance, bilingual instruction, and smaller class sizes.

The ARC of Washington State, Washington Autism Alliance & Advocacy, Open Doors for Multicultural Families, Seattle Special Education PTSA, and several other groups, filed a brief in McCleary pointing out how the new “plan” undercuts funding for special education in significant, destructive ways.
Some legislators themselves are declaring the new system flawed. Sen. Jamie Pedersen, Rep. Laurie Jinkins and Rep. Gerry Pollet joined the Washington Budget and Policy Center and Equity in Education Coalition to file a brief noting that the legislature's deal actually reduces basic education funding starting in 2022. They are also raising red flags about how this plan will likely harm students of color.
Editor's note: I will be attending this court hearing next week on the 24th.


David said...

This is 100% spot-on. I would have a hard time voting for a member of the statehouse who told me with a straight face that they had amply funded education. They've done no such thing, and worse yet actually increased taxes on King County while lowering funding for large districts. Pollet fortunately gets it, but the rest of the Seattle delegation I'm not so sure about.

Anonymous said...

Utter hogwash. Liberal elites up to it again. Liberal white elites. complain and sue over inequitable funding. Chicken Little the schools aren't ample enough. So, congress acts. Taxation applied. Funds spread out to the most needy schools. Lo and behold! They aren't in Seattle!

By socking residents with a regressive property tax increase, the legislature maintains a tax system that taxes our richest residents, who are mostly white, at a much lower percentage than our poorest residents,

What kind of liberal double speak is that? Property taxes, especially in Washington, are not regressive!!!! Are the millionaires and billionaires living in the Seattle area poor or living in cheap shacks? The fact is, the rich will be paying for the McCleary decision. The poor do not own high value real estate in Seattle. MI, or Bellevue. Those are the rich. These very nice McCleary ladies don't seem to get it. You got what you asked for. And yes, you will have to pay for it. And no, SPS has plenty of money. No one with a brain could deny the exploding costs and salaries at JSEE. That seems way beyond "ample" to me.

Waste Not