State Senators Christine Rolfes and Rosemary McAuliffe—once again—showcased the stunning hypocrisy of Democrats on education in a recent statement. The two very liberal members of their Senate caucus—like so many of their fellow Democrats—fail to recognize that it is their party that has underfunded public schools for a generation.
So, due to our commitment to shining the light on Democrat hypocrisy, we’ve taken the liberty of editing Rolfes and McAuliffe’s statement to make it reflect reality.
OLYMPIA – At the close of a statewide education funding listening tour that included seven cities, Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, and Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, released the following statement:
“After visiting seven unique communities across Washington, we’ve heard a strong, consistent message from educators, students and families about education funding problems that are quite the opposite of unique. We listened to passionate pleas from our families who are tired of waiting on Democrats for the past 30 years for the Legislature to fully fund basic education. They are tired of waiting on Democrats for the past 30 years for the state to meet their duty to ensure there is equity of opportunities for all students, whether they live in a rural community in eastern Washington or metro Seattle.
“First and foremost, we heard the message that Democrats must be held accountable and work with (not against) Republicans to the state must find a way to fully fund market-based salaries for teachers and other school employees before the profession falls further behind other industries as a result of the Washington Education Association’s (WEA) self-serving “leadership.” We have heard this at every stop because in both small and large districts, rural and urban, local taxpayers are forced to pick up the tab for basics like staff salaries due to our Democrat-controlled budget process that has put special interests ahead of public schools for decades.
“We also heard numerous stories that deepened our understanding of the critical shortage of teachers in our state, though we should have already been aware of such problems after years in public office on various education committees. Yakima started their its (sorry, our grammar is a bit rusty) school year with 30 vacancies, and as someone in Spokane said, ‘We’ve seen a bear, an elk and a moose on our school grounds, but not a fourth grade teacher.’ We have heard about the need for a renewed level of respect, despite the worst efforts of the dues-obsessed WEA to drive down respect for its own members, for the professionals in our schools. Are our educators wrong to ask for the opportunity to take their careers in their own hands by having a choice of whether or not to join a union, especially one known for placing its political interests ahead of its members a career in education that is both financially sustainable and personally desirable?
“In addition, we heard from both large and small districts that the Legislature must leave local levies alone until the other issues around funding have been dealt with, because that’s what the WEA has told people to tell us. The root of the levy problem is a lack of state funding that reforming it might reduce the bargaining power of the WEA to blackmail local school boards a lack of state funding, and districts need those voter-approved funds to finance WEA dues the individual programs that best serve their students.
“Finally, we heard cries for a thoughtful, honest look at how we collect revenue to pay for schools we raise taxes to pay of our special interest donors. Unfortunately for our big contributors, people are tired of Democrats prioritizing special interests rather than public schools gridlock and are desperate for Democrats to work with (not against) Republicans lawmakers to fully fund education without further burdening families with higher taxes. In fact, many people specifically used the WEA talking points that the Legislature took a tough vote this year to pass revenue for transportation – though we Democrats in the Senate tried to stop that progress- and two years ago held a one-day special session to partially reduce Boeing’s long-term tax burden if the company kept jobs in Washington State. It is time Democrats come together in a similarly bipartisan way to do what is right for our kids and put our schools first in the budget process, rather than worry about appeasing the demands of our million-dollar campaign donor, the WEA.
“Hundreds of people took time out of their busy lives, sometimes driving hours from home, in order to tell us their story about teaching or raising a child in Washington. If they were willing to do that, Democrats should be willing to set aside our obsession with our special interest-driven agenda long enough to consider people’s concerns. We heard their passion, their guidance and in some cases their desperation as to why full education funding is so critical. In the end, it is kids and families who pay the price of the funding failures that have resulted from years of Democrat-controlled budgets in the Legislature. As the 2016 legislative session approaches, it’s time for Democrats to work with (not against) Republicans to act and show these Washingtonians we finally listened.”