Charters Throw a Monkey Wrench in Legislative Bill

From Washington's Paramount Duty:

ACTION ALERT: STOP Betsy DeVos policies in WA! In the dead of night, at 1:30 in the morning, the Senate Ways and Means Committee passed the bill proposing to address the school district levy lid issue, SB 5313.

But the only way they could do so was to meet the demands of Democratic Senators Guy Palumbo (1st District) and Mark Mullet (5th District) to add two poison pill amendments that would cut teacher pay, undermine public employee bargaining rights across the state, and increase funding for charter schools.

This bill will still have to be approved by the full State Senate, the State House, and Governor Inslee. That means we have the opportunity to stop it. We need to insist that the legislature instead pass a clean levy lid lift bill that does not give money to charter schools, cut teachers' pay, or reduce public employee bargaining rights. The bill must restore levy flexibility to all the districts in the state that need it. But we need your calls right now. 

TAKE ACTION! Here's what you can do to help.
Call or email your Senator (especially if your Senator is a Democrat) and urge them to reject these amendments -- and pass a clean bill that provides levy flexibility for every district in the state.
Then, call Governor Jay Inslee and tell him to issue a public threat to veto any bill that cuts teacher pay, undermines bargaining rights, or gives more money to charter schools: (360) 902-4111.

 The first amendment would wind up slashing teacher pay and introduce the awful right-wing policies of people like Scott Walker to our state. It would limit teachers from collectively bargaining with school districts for fair wages for many important educational priorities. For example, this would prevent special education teachers from getting paid what they deserve for managing the process of IEPs for students.

The second amendment would allow charter schools to get new public money from the state, without requiring a public vote, even as the legislature claims they don't have enough money to meet the basic education needs of students in our public schools. It would also rescind the one of the few limitations Washington currently has on establishing new charter schools in our state.

These amendments are right out of the Betsy DeVos agenda. Teachers across the state deserve good wages—not this pay cut—for the important work they do for our children in our public schools. With this proposed pay cut, the teacher shortage will likely grow worse and good teachers will leave. And, it is totally inappropriate to let charter schools have more public money, especially when our public schools are still not fully funded.

Senators Palumbo and Mullet refused to stop the cuts to local public school districts and held the entire state budget hostage unless these extreme demands were met. This is no way to govern, and it comes at the expense of our public schools and teachers.


Anonymous said…
I have been reading and participating in this blog since my children were too young to attend school. Now as my youngest enters high school he is moving to a charter school after years of failed attempts to engage with SPS at several schools around his difficulties. There aren't a lot of other places for us to turn at this point.

-last chance
Another Name said…
I won't be contacting anyone. WEA showed an enormous amount of disrespect and threw us over the levy cliff.

WEA will be coming back for more next year.

Perhaps the Senators that provided the amendments had enough. I certainly know that I've had enough.
Fake News said…
WEA is telling teachers that Olympia wants to decrease their pay by $5000. This is simply untrue. Read the bill!

Anonymous said…
Thank you Melissa for standing up for schools and teachers.
Anonymous said…
Thank you Melissa for standing up for public schools and public school teachers.

Kathleen said…
I'm not seeing where SB 5313 would slash salaries. The amendment states: " (D) In no instances shall the provisions of (c)(i)(B) and (C) of18 this subsection result in a decrease of the total compensation19 provided to certificated instructional staff for the same duties,20 responsibilities, and incentives" and : (4) States that the restrictions on supplemental contracts shall not result in decreased total compensation for certificated instruction.
Slash Em. said…
WEA seeks and demands double digit pay increases. Local school boards and superintendents approve them, knowing that without MORE money they would be driving the districts over a financial cliff.

That was irresponsible.

The cuts are going to hurt. Probably hurt bad. It’s time for restraint.
Kate (Belltown) said…
I am stunned at the antipathy towards teachers and public education that is represented in some of these comments. According to the Times this morning SB5313 as amended is not going to pass. But I get the sense, at least from the Times article, that those who voted for it will continue to hold a levy fix hostage. The McCleary "fix" was always intended to hurt SPS, in particular, and other urban districts. And it has. Teachers deserve a living wage, and basic education is still the State’s paramount duty. Yet the legislature seems to be moving even further away from that duty. The view represented by Reuven Carlyle in this Crosscut article are really distressing - and he’s represents Seattle. I really fear for where this is headed.
Kathleen, the issue is in the TRI pay. As WPD Board member, Robert Cruinkshank, says:

"as even the Seattle Times acknowledges, the result would be a cut. The wording in the amendment is designed to make it look like the base pay is protected, but TRI isn't included in that, even though it is a key element of the compensation teachers get.

Slash EM; time from restraint from whom?

Anonymous said…
TRI pay represents about a quarter of my compensation as a teacher. It's not part of what the state provides in compensation because it is levy funded. When we see terms like 'total compensation' we need that defined because it can sound good but it can mean 'total compensation from the state' will not be reduced but a quarter of my salary just went away due to it being levy based. Since the state still isn't fully funding every aspect of the school system while still hammering the parts that are funding what the state isn't then teachers and the community need to know what that means.

The vitriol and panic comes from the fact that these items are as poorly defined as the McCleary fix is funded. The narrative has shifted from "The State isn't anywhere close to funding the school system" to "Those teachers got a pay raise and it's all their fault".

Here is SPS we agreed to one of the lowest percentage raises in the state because we looked at sustainability and agreed to 8% less than we were due based on competitive salaries and past lack of increases. We already are looking out for the community. Fully funded schools need materials, buildings, and staff to actually teach.

Every year for the past 4 or 5 years we've had massive drama and a number of strikes. Don't you think this impacts teaching and learning when everyone is on edge, getting let go, teams busted and moved around, benefits are unclear, and legislators attacking you for their inaction and failures?

It definitely does do harm to student learning and retaining teachers in a profession that loses 50% of new staff in the first five years of a career.

The McCleary job is not done and it will take progressive taxation on the massive wealth in this state to do so. Do it all at once and let us get back to focusing on our relationships with our students and their success once we have a sense of safety for ourselves.

Mr. Theo Moriarty
Another Parent said…
We hear a lot about how teachers are underpaid, and as a result there aren’t enough teachers. I believe this is misleading.

In Seattle in 2017-2018, a new teacher with a BA made $50,603. Teachers with a master’s degree and that have worked for the district for 14+ years, made $96,608.

In Seattle in 2018-2019, a new teacher with a BA made $56,947. Teachers with a master’s degree and that have worked for the district for 14+ years, made $108.651.

So, a new Seattle teacher received a $6,344 raise (12.5%) and a senior teacher received a $12,043 raise (12.5%) from the 2017-2018 school year to the 2018-2019 school year.

Teachers are contracted for 180 days of work, which is 36 weeks of the year. That’s not to say teachers don’t put in extra hours grading homework etc., but teachers in general receive significantly more vacation than most other salaried workers.

Teachers also receive a guaranteed pension of 60% of their final salary for life if the teach for 30+ years. To buy an annuity with a similar income stream would cost around $1,000,000, so in other words, teachers retire with around a $1,000,000 retirement benefit. And because the pension is based on the final years of teaching, when teachers receive a 12.5% raise, its will be costing tax papers an extra 12.5% for the 20+ years that the teacher is retired.

Do I appreciate the work our teachers do? Absolutely.

But I would ask why the district didn’t instead give new teachers the $12,043 raise and senior teachers the $6,344 raise? How many other workers get a 12.5% raise the year before the are set to retire? How many other workers get a guaranteed for life pension boost the year before they retire? How many other works receive a guaranteed pension at all?

The problem as I see it is the union will always write the contract so the senior teachers get the biggest absolute raise (and the biggest chunk of new funds), and then cry that the newest teacher's are underpaid.

Popcorn Eater said…
WEA played a serious game of chicken.

Grab the popcorn.
Popcorn Eater, curious that you think it funny that all the students in SPS will suffer from cuts.

Popcorn Eater said…
WEA used children for political purposes. This is not a laughing matter. Aside from a phone call or e-mail, there is little we can do.
Elsa said…
You nailed it "another parent".

Flat rate increases that impact ALL staff would be the fair solution, and the LAST THING a top heavy org like SSD will agree to.

Anonymous said…
Another parent:
What nobody ever states is these "raises" are more of an inflation adjustment after years of not receiving COLA in an area that has seen unchecked growth. Compare number for yourself: (I can't find Seattle specific comparisons, but the state numbers are depressing)
Here's a quick Seattle 10-year inflation calculator: It's not pretty (as we all know)

Another View said…
IMO, Senator Mullet appears to limit levy funding for teacher salaries. Is this a bad thing? Levy funding is supposed to fund extras i.e. librarians, counselors etc.

Senator Mullet is also working on a bill that considers the amount of time teachers spend working outside of the classroom.
Mullet's Amendment said…

Anonymous said…
Just to be clear, teachers already get a built in step raise every year up to the maximum step. THEN, on top of that, they expect to get COLAs. Eg. They expect both a step raise AND a COLA, evidently. How many other jobs just give raises strictly for seniority? Built in, year after year? So when teachers say they haven’t gotten their expected COLA, they still got decent raises every year. Of course, those at the top of the stairs, the 6 figure teachers, have run out of steps.

Clarified Butter
4th Mom said…
Why are librarians and counselors considered extra? An amply funded education surely includes a librarian and a library with some books in it.
Anonymous said…
People love teachers when they're poor and struggling to pay the bills, but somehow still reach into their pockets to pay for classroom supplies. "Such giving people, those teachers are. Such little pay."

No wonder this female-dominated profession has become such a low status job.

Now that salaries are more commensurate with education and experience locally, the narrative becomes that they are money grubbers.

How many of you who are complaining about these salaries want your own kids to become public school teachers?

Didn't Thinkso

Not Bad said…
I'm encouraging students to become educators. Teaching is a noble profession.

Two experienced teachers, in a single household have the capacity to earn a combined income of $200k per year. Retirement and health care benefits are an extra bonus.

Anonymous said…
Clarified Butter

In Seattle the steps only go to 15 years. After that there are no more step increases. As for Cola, since I've been teaching in Washington (1998) thee have actually only been a couple of years where we actually got the Cola. People voted for us to get it, however every year something would come up and it didn't happen.

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