Sometimes it takes a bit of sunshine to show just how greedy some special interests actually are – when your money is involved. Consider that, after initially refusing to go back to school in August, the Washington Education Association (WEA) and its followers at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), are now ripping off the taxpayers by spending $2.6 billion of the federal COVID pandemic aid for just about anything they can, except actually educating the kids.
Washington State has been given a series of federal grants (called ESSER) totaling some $2.6 billion (your tax dollars at work) to help schools manage the impact of the pandemic, and in Washington’s case, to also mitigate the damaging lockdowns imposed by Democrat Governor Jay Inslee.
You might expect that federal money to be spent on one-time expenditures, like safety equipment focused on students and making schools cleaner, but OSPI and the WEA had other ideas.
The Seattle Times reports that the majority of the money is being spent on medical supplies (PPE), but the next big-ticket item is hiring and increasing salaries. In other words, the WEA and OSPI took as much money as they could to give out pay increases and hire more teachers to swell their dues. Unlike other states, OSPI has been deliberately vague in how the money should be spent, likely because the union bosses have not told the bureaucrats exactly what they want, just yet.
Unsurprisingly, Seattle is the biggest offender, at $145 million spent so far (and not just because it is the largest school district). Per capita, the Tukwila school district is off to the races with an eye-watering additional $6,649 spent per student (a 46% increase over the normal annual spend of $14,213), but the money isn’t getting to the kids in the classrooms.
All of this spending is in the face of decreasing student enrollment, as parents wake up to the far-Left propaganda many of the school districts are now teaching students.
The federal Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) on its website details what the grant money should be used for, and it’s tough to tell if Washington is following the rules.
The money has disappeared into the proverbial union black hole. OSPI is using words like “strategies” to mask how the WEA and OSPI are funneling the ill-gotten tax gains to increased salaries for its union members. Other states have submitted detailed plans and dollar amounts to qualify for the federal ESSER grants, but not Washington.
You can bet your bottom dollar, when the federal money runs out, the WEA will cry foul and ask for still higher taxes to replace the missing “temporary” money. Oh wait, the union already did.
When the WEA screams about underpaid teachers, point them to the online teachers’ salary database published by the Kitsap Sun. Democrat Representative Lilian Ortiz-Self, who not only claims her $50k legislative salary thanks to taxpayers, also claims a teacher’s salary from Jefferson Elementary. Ortiz-self’s base salary is $124k, plus $32k in benefits.
The taxpayers of Washington are giving Rep. Ortiz-Self over $200k a year. Pretty good for a pair of part-time jobs. And the WEA still wants MORE money.
The good news is that the federal government, which otherwise appears to be quite happy printing money as fast as possible, may have realized the OSPI and the WEA haven’t been as honest as they should have been regarding where the federal taxpayer money is going. The third round of federal funding (ESSER 3) is being withheld by the feds until they can see what it will be spent on.
The WEA needn’t worry though, as savior Gov. Inslee will likely give them a massive salary increase if the feds don’t. He’s already done that for his other union friends in the last few weeks.