What were you expecting, unswerving fealty to the truth? If you know the state teachers union, the Washington Education Association, you know better than that.
Already one of Olympia’s biggest political spenders, the WEA is running radio ads in markets around the state. As usual, they’re bashing Republicans big time, because that’s what the union exists to do. The tax-hungry group despises Senate Republicans’ budget proposal, because it only increases school funding by a lot, not the whole-heckin’-lot the union wants.
The WEA isn’t going to let the truth get in the way of a good old fashioned tar-and-feather job. Their radio ad even tries to tie legislative Republicans to “the Trump-DeVos education agenda,” because hey, that’s almost tangentially related, and besides, it sounds ominous.
You can listen to the ad here yourself. This is what the WEA claims:
The Senate Republican budget is a page out of the Trump-DeVos education agenda. They promise a lot, but their budget is just a shell game that doesn’t increase funding or address inequality in our schools.
The Senate Republican budget slashes spending for special education, takes away local flexibility and local control of schools, forcing many districts to cut teacher pay and fire school employees.
So let’s go through, distortions, and omissions.
“The Trump-DeVos education agenda”: Neither the Senate Republicans’ nor the House Democrats’ budget proposals have anything to do with Trump, national education policy, or the federal Dept. of Education. The Republican budget contains nothing about school choice, which is the issue Betsy DeVos is known for. So why mention it in the ad? It’s nothing but a scare tactic.
“Their budget is just a shell game”: The union doesn’t like that Senate Republicans’ budget would raise state property taxes but lower local property taxes (called a levy swap). The WEA wants state property taxes to go up while simultaneously keeping property taxes high, too. Anything else is a “shell game” to them, but the union doesn’t spell out in the ad what they really want – that would be unpopular with voters.
“Doesn’t increase funding”: Oh come on, that’s not even remotely true. The WEA doesn’t want to talk about total state and local money spent per student because if people knew the full picture, they’d expect better performance for their tax dollars.
“Or address inequality”: This might be the biggest whopper of all. The McCleary decision specifically called out how unequal school funding is between rich and poor districts. The court declared it unconstitutional. But the union wants to keep local taxes high, which is exactly what creates the gap in the first place. The WEA fully supports inequality!
“Slashes spending for special education”: The Senate budget provides $7,500 in additional funding for special education students, beyond the standard allocation.
“Takes away local flexibility and local control”: A classic union claim. By “local control,” the WEA means keeping local property taxes high. And did we mention that whole “the union supports inequality” thing? Their version of “local flexibility” is what drives that.
“Forcing many districts to cut teacher pay”: Creating a fair teacher pay system is part of what legislators are negotiating over right now. A fair system would pay teachers similar base salaries but provide for differences in the cost of living between, say, Odessa and Bellevue. It’s funny that the ad says “some districts” – maybe that’s because salaries in some districts are way overboard.
“And fire school employees”: If some districts had to reduce staff at these per-pupil spending levels, that would really be saying something.
We know that you’re not shocked by any of this – because you never expected anything better from the WEA in the first place, and certainly not the truth.