The Washington Education Association (WEA) is making some ridiculous assertions in an effort to convince Washingtonians to vote for its latest power grab, Initiative 1351. Over the weekend, the WEA’s political arm (Our Voice) sent out a newsletter aimed to reassure supporters of I-1351’s merits—despite increasing doubts.
The WEA claims that I-1351 does not increase taxes, funds teacher and not bureaucrats, and allows school districts flexibility if they are unable to accommodate smaller class sizes. According to the Washington Policy Center, these three assertions are highly misleading.
Though it does not name a funding source, I-1351 will raise taxes. Union executives are calling for over $4 billion in new spending. Boosting a major tax—sales or property—will be on the table in order to meet the demand. In fact, Democrat state Sen. Marko Liias supports I-1351 because it forces a hike in taxes.
Additionally, I-1351—though billed as a class size reduction measure—does not primarily add classroom teachers. Rather, new teachers only make up 29% of the 25,000 employees I-1351 promises. Over 17,000 are “support staff,” and 1,027 are “administrators.”
Finally, according to the Washington Policy Center, the WEA is correct to inform voters that I-1351 grants school districts flexibility—but that isn’t necessarily a good provision. The flexibility allows school administrators the power to divert funds intended for reducing class sizes to other projects. Of course, that possibility will not impact the WEA’s intake from forced union dues. The flexibility clause is just one of the multiple ways I-1351’s promise of smaller class sizes is both weak and empty.
Given how the truth about the costs and lack of real benefits is finally coming out, one wonders if this might cause Jay Inslee to finally stand up to the union that gave his campaign $1 million in 2-12, and oppose this bad initiative. Or, does $1 million buy Inslee’s silence?