The leaders of the Washington Education Association (WEA) are showing their true colors again this election year, and it’s not a pretty sight for those – including the vast majority of teachers – who care about quality public education. Because, for the WEA union leaders, it’s all about the adults – as in, those that are forced to pay political dues to the WEA whether they agree with their misguided agenda or not.
The WEA’s main assault on quality education this year is another one of its “sounds-good-until-you-read-the-fine-print” initiatives, I-1351. This initiative is entirely funded by over $1 million in forced union dues, and promises “smaller class sizes. However, in reality, it swells the ranks of union-paying members while doing very little to actually reduce class sizes. I-1351 has been widely panned by newspapers across the state (here and here) for adding billions to the state’s education budget deficit, but widely embraced by Democrat legislators who fear offending a big campaign donor.
That is not all the damage the WEA leaders are trying to inflict on Washington State taxpayers this year. The union has been in the news this month complaining about losing a seven-year legal fight against the state. Recently, the state Supreme Court rejected two pension lawsuits (brought by the WEA and other public employee unions) that “could have added an additional $1.3 billion in new costs for the 2015-2017 budget (state and local).”
The WEA, in denouncing the Court’s acknowledgement of legitimate legislative powers, issued a statement in which it complains that “the Legislature has balanced the state budget over the last seven years by slashing educator retirement benefits, underfunding health care and cutting teacher salaries…”
A couple of facts for the WEA to note:
- Democrats—with Frank Chopp as Speaker—have controlled the state House of Representative for the past 12 years (since 2002).
- Democrats have likewise had a majority in the State Senate since 2005, though fortunately for state taxpayers the bi-partisan Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) gained control in 2013, with the help of Democrats who were tired of their party’s irresponsible approach to budgeting.
3. Democrat Governors have signed every state budget since 1985.
Yet, if WEA leaders need any reminder, they have used the union dues taken from their members to overwhelmingly support these Democrats.
That reality does not sit well with union leaders. The WEA’s many attempts to dominate the Legislature’s budgetary powers, including the pension lawsuits, serve as proof. Here are additional current examples of the WEA’s relentless quest for partisan political power at the expense of quality education for our children:
- The WEA’s lawsuit against charter schools, including one school with a mission to educate homeless children, due to its opposition to these voter-approved public schools.
- The WEA’s legislative lobby efforts which led to the loss of an important federal waiver—and control of over nearly $40 million in federal funding—because it took issue with changing one word in state law (“shall” to “must”). Of course, that minor change would have led to greater accountability.
All these actions make it clear that the WEA’s mission is all about the dues, not the kids.