Multiple local teachers union locals—coordinated by the parent organization, the Washington Education Association (WEA)—have organized illegal teachers strikes against the families in their schools over the past few weeks, suggesting that the state legislature is not spending enough taxpayer money to improve education for “the children.” Specifically, the WEA is not happy that neither the Democrat-controlled state House nor the Republican-majority Senate fully fund its money-grab initiative from last year, I-1351.
Of course, the WEA only publicly attacks Senate Republicans for their budget. The union has gone so far as to absurdly claim Republicans want to increase class sizes. The fact that a Democrat governor has signed every state budget for the last 30 years – and that Democrats have controlled one house of the legislature for 28 of those years while adequate education funding was being ignored – is not something the WEA wants to highlight since they have poured millions of forced-dues dollars into Democrat campaigns during that time.
Both the Senate and the House propose limiting funding of I-1351 to kindergarten through the 3rd grade. That’s because studies have shown that smaller class sizes make a difference in grades K-3. Simply put, smaller classes are not as effective as is so often assumed in later grades, and the state’s money could be put to better use for students – though being smarter with taxpayer dollars would not generate more dues dollars for the WEA.
In a recent report, the Washington Policy Center points out that spending billions of public dollars to reduce class sizes statewide is not the best way to improve student learning. The lack of effectiveness is important to understand because “spending on class-size reduction means less public money is available for education policies that do benefit children.”
After studying class size reduction policies in California, Florida and other states, even the left-leaning Center for American Progress concluded that these policies are not cost-effective and offer a “false promise.” Via the Washington Policy Center,
“Large-scale CSR [Class Size Reduction} policies clearly fail any cost-benefit test because they entail steep costs and produce benefits that are modest at best…
“Assuming even the largest class-size effects in the research literature, such as the STAR [Tennessee] results that indicate that a 32 percent reduction in class size increased achievement by about 15 percent of a year of learning after one year, CSR will still fail this test because it is so expensive. Reducing class size by one-third, from 24 to 16 students, requires hiring 50 percent more teachers.”
The liberal Brookings Institution also concurred with the Center for American Progress’ finding. Researchers at Brookings likewise refute the results of “studies from the 1980s, like the STAR Tennessee study, often used by advocates to extrapolate findings to the modern day and across an entire state.” The Washington Policy Center,
“Brookings Institution researchers also raise warnings about other states’ experiences with statewide class size reduction efforts. California reduced class sizes in the late 1990s by 10 students, down to 20 students in the lower grades. Brookings analysts report the policy hurt student learning when schools were forced to hire unqualified teachers to hit certain number targets. The Brookings Institution also examined Florida’s class size reduction effort, and found that effort delivered no improvement in student learning.”
So what, if not smaller class sizes, would improve the quality of education? The Brooking Institution recommends “paying good teachers more to provide additional hours of instruction, funding a longer school year, providing summer school services for disadvantaged students.”
But, in the end, all researchers arrive at an ultimate conclusion: “Having a good teacher in the classroom is much more helpful to students than reducing class sizes.” As the Washington Policy Center puts it, “Good teachers provide about one year and a half of learning benefits to students, while a bad teacher may provide students less than half a year of learning… Research found that students who have the misfortune of being assigned to a bad teacher three years in a row may never catch up.”
The WEA continues to ignore this reality, proving it is not truly concerned with children’s futures or improving the quality of education. Rather, the WEA is concerned with what it has always been concerned about: itself. For the WEA, smaller class sizes means more employees to fill its ranks and pay forced union dues.
Once again, the WEA is placing its selfish ambitions before children and the quality of their education. This time around it’s in the form of illegal teacher strikes.
Meem Kaplan says
In 1972 my school had ONE secretary plus a student aide. The vice-principal was one of the school councilors and the other was a Phys Ed teacher and councilor. Each semester had 8 classes and each day 7 classes on a rotation basis. We learned Civics, Math, English, State and US History, Home economics, Art, Phys Ed with President Kennedy’s program which was a tough one, Sports, Bookkeeping, Sciences including biology, chemistry, etc, and the program ran well. We had 1,200 students, no computers, good teachers with one or two exceptions, a school secretary that knew nearly every student’s name, real food lunches made from scratch AND WE HAD FUN LEARNING! There wasn’t a need for a teacher’s union as teachers, students, and the administration had one thing in mind – students graduating with knowledge to be able to excel in society. We didn’t have sex ed in kindergarten, critical thinking classes to be critical of adult’s and their knowledge and experience base, math that was a free for all as long as you “tried”, and we didn’t have teachers who thought it was okay to talk about X-rated films or the color of girls underwear in class. There were a couple of predatory teachers but we knew who they were and we dealt with it. By and large the good teachers that are still alive are still in communication with a lot of our peers even now. The public schools my daughter went to in the 80’s taught very little of what I learned in school. She did get an education beginning when I homeschooled her. I was shocked at how little she learned in school. Rare is the school that prepares students for life in the real world where your employer can’t afford to give you extra time or extra credit for “trying”.
It’s pretty sad.
Eastside Sanity says
What we have is an over regulated society by liberal progresive democrats who’s policies have been supported by brainless followers that live off the big government support because it’s the only thing they have been taught for the last 40 years in this state. Tax the middle class out of existence, raise the tax on the wealthy and give it away to the sheep. Red Tape, Red Debt. It’s the Nanny State as we know it, the education system in WA is a Falure because Democrats created it.
Eastside Sanity says
Get Rid of Liberals, Get Rid of WEA, Get out of Red Ink.