I am writing as a retired teacher of 28 years, a parent, a grandparent and a citizen to voice dismay at the plan the Republicans in our state Legislature have come up with so far to fund education in this state.
Not only are they not addressing the underfunding, (there is a $1.4 billion shortfall in their budget) other than passing the buck and proposing further property taxes in an already-regressive tax system, they want overturn the law created to lower class sizes (I-1351), to no longer require teachers to have certification and to not replace the hundreds due to retirement, further crowding the existing classrooms next year. Washington is already well above the national classroom size average, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
In addition, the Republicans hope to pass legislation that would not allow teachers to go on strike. Believe me, teachers never go on strike without a good reason, and it usually relates to class size and underfunded salaries when compared to other districts or states.
Our state is being fined $57 million as of March 5 because we have not yet found a way to fully fund education in this state that is fair and equitable, as mandated by the McCleary court decision of 2012. With the current session half over, it is time to find a viable and non-regressive means to fund our children’s education. We all need to show up at town hall meetings and ask our representatives to collaborate across party lines and make this happen.