The issue has been simmering since long before the legislative session with barely a peep from the Governor. Would the state make a simple change in state law – change one word from “can” to “must” – which would allow about $40 million of federal money to continue being spent on mainly low-income kids.
Unfortunately for the students of the state of Washington, the law involved our much-written about teacher evaluation system, and the big-spending (on Democrats anyway) Washington Education Association (WEA) does not like its union members to be at risk of being graded on performance.
Instead, as one activist said to in an Austin Jenkins story today, “WEA did a lot to elect him and he needs to support us.”
Evidently the folks who put up the money have come calling for “him” – Jay Inslee – and he is desperately trying to not to be found. He let the issue twist in the wind for most of the session, let State Senate Democrats step up for the union and defeat a bill they had written themselves, and even travelled to Washington, D.C. to ask the Obama Administration to let him off the hook from the teacher evaluation requirement.
But his “secret sauce” didn’t work on Arne Duncan. It’s time to tell the union that spent $1 million to elect him that he’s really, really sorry, but the poor students of the state can really, really use that $40 million in their schools.
But the union is pulling out all the stops. They had hundreds of activists rally yesterday in Olympia, one comparing students to “cavities” to be filled by a dentist, another suggesting losing control over $40 million is not a big deal because “it’s such a low amount of the money spent overall on education.”
However, with overwhelming support for the change everywhere outside of WEA offices, momentum finally appears on the side the students. So, once the ink is dry on the law, and the students of Washington State have access to the federal money they need, the teachers union leaders can go commiserate with the Machinists union leaders about how their million-dollar investment is turning out.