Yesterday, the Washington Policy Center reviewed the shaky and misleading ground that I-1351—the initiative that promises to reduce class size—stands on.
The fundamental issue with the measure’s promise is that smaller class sizes do not “turn a bad teacher into a good one.” If voters care about student achievement, they would insist upon directing taxes towards “hiring and rewarding great teachers in our local schools.” Which brings us to the main problem with I-1351: there is no funding for these measure, meaning that the pledge to reduce class size is simply a “paper promise.”
As SHIFT has reported in the past, I-1351 would require the state to hire more teachers that we simply cannot afford. While the Washington Education Association (WEA) would stand to profit $1,000—via forced union dues—from each of the new hired teachers, working families would be hit with increased taxes of up to $1,600 annually to support the unfunded measure. The Washington Policy Center states that “sales tax would have to be increased from 6.5% to 8% to pay for it, increasing poverty and raising the cost of living for everyone.”
A second—less publicized—problem with I-1351 is that it allows school administrators to divert funding away from smaller class sizes. Of course, that means taxpayers’ hard earned dollars and funds diverted from other social programs might not even go into the project that voters thought they were supporting.
Our state is currently spending $11,300 annually on each child enrolled in public school—a number which is an all-time high. Even with this increased spending, “test scores are flat, one in four kids drop out, and the achievement gap is worse than ever.” This reality suggests that simply asking for more money without holding teachers and families accountable for their children’s education is an absolute failure.
I-1351 represents the many unnecessary and costly efforts by the WEA to strengthen their political and financial hold on the education system that directly affects the success and well-being of your children.