Another group took a look at the Washington Education Association’s (WEA) latest power grab—Initiative 1351 – and another group, this times the Seattle Times editorial board, advised voters to reject. The Times wrote,
“On the surface, Initiative 1351 appears appealing, promising smaller classes in Washington public schools. But what it really does is unnecessarily complicate the state Legislature’s very serious job of meeting a state Supreme Court order to fully fund basic education.”
The Times points out that I-1351 “provides no source of funding” for the “generous expenditure” of adding more due paying members to the WEA’s ranks under the guise of smaller class sizes. The Office of Financial Management “estimates that 1351 could cost the state another $4.7 billion through 2019.” Additionally, the Washington Research Council “estimates that local school districts might have to spend as much as $960 million in costs not paid by the state.”
Washington State is already on track to reduce class sizes to a cap of 17 students from kindergarten to third grade. I-1351 would add an unsustainable burden to our state’s budget by extending the smaller class sizes requirement through high school—even though research shows smaller classes does not improve student performance in higher grade levels. According to the Times, even the League of Education Voters, which champions smaller class sizes, does not support I-1351 due to the fact that “there is little evidence that small class sizes make a difference during the later years of a student’s education.”
As SHIFT has reported, I-1351 offers voters a false promise. The true purpose of I-1351 is not to reduce class sizes. I-1351 does not seek to benefit children. Rather, the deceptive initiative is carefully written to benefit our state’s largest teachers’ union, the WEA.