The Washington Education Association (WEA) is campaigning for the public’s support on tax hikes via online video plugs. In a new video posted on the Stand (the state labor council’s online newsletter), public school math teacher Mrs. Emerson from Woodinville in the Northshore school district “seeks to explain why the extra $2.7 billion (the revised revenue figure is an extra $3 billion) the state is receiving is not enough to provide people with essential services, such as public education.”
Mrs. Emerson makes it a point to note that she pays “$1,000 a year of my own money to provide my students with basic learning tools such as paper, pencils, and binders.” Of course, teachers should not have to use their own money to pay for essential classroom inventory.
The reality is that, based on the extra money the state is receiving, there is no shortage of funding. So, as the Washington Policy Center points out, “the important question is, why aren’t Northshore school district administrators giving Mrs. Emerson the budget support she needs to teach her students?” The Washington Policy Center does the math,
Northshore school district administrators receive $10,300 per student each year ($212 million total) to provide a high quality public education for children living in the district. (For comparison, tuition at a private school is about $7,000 a year). Mrs. Emerson reports she has 38 students, so Northshore administrators have on hand $391,400 for her class, plus the $1,000 Mrs. Emerson contributes herself.
If school administrators paid Mrs. Emerson, say, $130,000 for the district’s 10-month work year, they would have $262,400 to cover all the other expenses of educating her students. For reference, Northshore’s superintendent, Larry Francois, makes $233,000 a year – more than the governor.
Further, Mrs. Emerson says she is a Certified Special Education teacher, meaning her students receive far more funding each year than the average student, perhaps as much as $20,000 each. Northshore administrators could receive funding for her class as high as $760,000.
If they paid Mrs. Emerson $250,000 for her 10-month work year, they would have $510,000 to cover all the other expenses of educating her students, not counting the $1,000 she may contribute herself.
Mrs. Emerson concludes that the result of her math equation is the need for tax hikes. She asks viewers to visit the Washington United for Fair Revenue website—a site “designed to promote the carbon taxes and capital gains taxes Governor Inslee wants to enact.” However, Mrs. Emerson’s solution is wrong—taxpayers are already providing an extra $3 billion. Making it more difficult for Washington’s working families to make ends meet is never the right answer.
As the Washington Policy Center reports, it isn’t likely more funding would reach Mrs. Emerson’s classroom even with tax hikes. That’s because the solution “lies much closer than she may think, perhaps as close as the administrator’s office just down the hall in her own school building.” It’s up to school administrators to provide teachers like Mrs. Emerson the support they need to improve education. The math shows they have the funding to do so.