Jay Inslee rolled out some ideas for education spending in the next budget cycle during a not-so-transparent town hall meeting last night. Here are the highlights of what can hardly be called a plan since he didn’t exactly say how he would pay for it, other than making it clear that public education would not be the first priority in his budget by requiring taxes hikes:
- Two additional years of in-state resident college tuition freezes (which he fought against in the last set of budget negotiations)
- $156 million for state funded pre-school
- $595 million in teacher pay raises (on top of raises provided by local school districts)
- $1.3 billion to reduce average class sizes in kindergarten through third grade
Inslee’s education proposal totals $2.2 billion — a sum our green governor believes will “go a long way” to meet the State Supreme Court’s order to fully fund K-12 education (the McCleary decision). Perhaps most notably, Inslee’s centered his answer to the McCleary decision on reducing kindergarten-through-third grade class sizes.
The Washington Education Association (WEA) billed its power grab, Initiative 1351, as a K-12 class size reduction measure. Though voters narrowly approved the initiative in November, Inslee’s proposal doesn’t acknowledge that fact. Inslee – who announced after polls closed on election day that he did not support the budget-busting initiative – said that that he does not support repealing I-1351 but that he is “focusing first on the K-through-3 area where [reducing class sizes] has the most success as far as bang for your buck.”
While research shows that reducing class sizes works best for younger students, it also makes a compelling argument that the goal of reducing class sizes is not the primary answer to improving education. MyNorthwest.com,
The Washington Policy Center cites research from the Center for American Progress, the Brookings Institute and Stanford, who reviewed hundreds of education studies on the effects of reducing class sizes and found that only 15 percent of students showed statistically significant benefits.
Let’s spin this towards the positive. That means, if class sizes are reduced to the initiative-approved number of 25 students, that’s 3.75 students per class who might improve their grades.
Two other states have tried and failed to improve student learning through reduced class sizes: California and Florida. They scrapped the program in the 90s when it didn’t work.
And here’s food for thought: in South Korea, the average class size is 36, yet these students routinely outperform U.S. students on assessment tests.
So, what should improvements to education center on? Simply put, effective teachers. MyNorthwest.com,
The good news is, Inslee did consider the teachers and proposed $595 million to give our current teachers a raise. No doubt our teachers are due for a raise, but does money make a good teacher?
Stanford concluded that money is better spent retaining teachers with proven effectiveness in the classroom and recruiting others. They found a good teacher provides about a year and a half of learning to students, while ineffective teachers provide only half a year of learning over the same time period.
Unfortunately, Inslee continues to back our state’s powerful teachers’ union (the WEA)—and one of his million-dollar campaign donors—at all costs. And, as the WEA has proven, it will stubbornly follow the practice of seniority (last one in, first one out) at all costs—even at the costs of quality teachers. SHIFT recently reported that a talented teacher at Seattle Garfield High School is being threatened with dismissal due to the nonsensical system.
Inslee refused to provide information as to how he plans to pay for his $2.2 billion education budget proposal. He is expected to propose $1 billion in new taxes and “other new revenue” on Thursday. Of course, by “other revenue” Inslee means higher taxes, most likely from his favorite tax scheme, a fuel mandate — a proposal which he is expected to unveil Wednesday.
Republicans, now in control of the State Senate, are not too happy with Inslee’s plan to solve our state’s budget problems by raising taxes. Sen. Bruce Dammeier of Puyallup warned that making education “contingent upon a tax increase at all, be it a carbon-tax increase or any other tax increase, is fundamentally flawed.”
The House and Senate will have their opportunity to present their own budget proposal in January.
Jim Thomas says
Anybody see this as a failure to solve the basic issues that we continue to have year after year? When the leader of the State has no clue the problems just grow and grow.
Eastside Sanity says
Another liberal progressive democratic waste of time & money.
Where is all that lottery money going that was supposed to be funding the schools?
“$595 million in teacher pay raises (on top of raises provided by local school districts)”
So, my property taxes go up to pay for teachers, and schools in SW Wa. that districts let fall apart so they can get new buildings, and now I pay a different tax to pay teachers again? Yeah, that’s going to go over well.