May 16, 2013 News Update
We finished our third official bargaining session yesterday. On May 9th and 14th, our conversations started off a little clunky as we discovered each teams’ style of bargaining. We are now steaming along working on several proposals. Our next session is at the District Office on the 22nd. After that we have 3, 6 hour sessions on May 30th, June 17th and June 20th.
How Can You Help?
You can help the bargaining process by doing some simple things. Please
- Check your home email and the sveaunion.org often for updates.
- Make sure your building rep and Nancy Byrnes have your current home email address.
- If a rally is scheduled to support the bargaining team, please try your best to attend.
- If you can help organize August rallies, or support the bargaining team with collecting meals etc., please contact Nancy Byrnes, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Attend the School Board meetings. Thursdays, May 23, June 13, June 27, July 11 (budget is usually adopted), and August 29, 2013
Email your legislators and tell them to oppose the Senate budget and to fund COLAs and smaller class sizes!
Don’t believe it when Sen. Andy Hill claims his Republican budget proposal increases K-12 school funding by $1.5 billion. In reality, state budget documents show Hill’s proposed net increase in K-12 education spending is only $500 million above maintenance levels — a third of what he claims.
Hills’ K-12 budget is nowhere near what the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision requires, what the Legislature has promised or what is needed to ensure all children receive the quality public school they deserve.
Hill freely admits his budget provides zero funding to reduce overcrowded class sizes, and he admits to taking more than $300 million in voter-approved cost-of-living adjustments from educators’ paychecks and using it to fund the state’s basic education obligations.
Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover Hill’s actual new funding for K-12 schools is $1 billion less than he claims. In other words, the state’s own figures (here and here)* show Hill’s budget is only $500 million more than the cost of maintaining existing programs and after accounting for increased enrollment. It’s less than K-12 funding plans from Gov. Jay Inslee and House Republicans.
Hill’s K-12 budget:
- Cuts $296 million in K-12 employee COLAs
- Cuts $87 million by forcing part-time school employees into a different insurance plan, and cuts funding for other K-12 employees’ health insurance
- Cuts $57 million from vocational education
- Cuts $37 million from various education programs and transfers them to a block-grant style system
- Cuts $50 million by delaying stipend increases for National Board Certified Teachers, delaying alternative routes for teacher certification, reducing assessment funding and making other reductions
Through a complicated formula, Hill’s budget proposal also will reduce the amount school districts can collect through voter-approved school levies – cutting local school funding.
WEA President Mary Lindquist calls Hill’s Senate Republican budget a “smoke and mirrors budget.”
And while Hill’s budget increases funding for student transportation and maintenance, as required by state law and the McCleary decision, he fails to include any funding for smaller class sizes – which is also required.
The educator COLAs are required by current law (voters approved I-732 by 63 percent). It will require a vote by the Legislature to repeal the law as Hill has proposed. Rep. Ross Hunter, who is writing the House budget, lambasted Hill’s proposal to repeal the COLA.
According to Crosscut, “Hunter portrayed rerouting the $321 million from teachers’ cost-of-living raises to paying for McCleary projects as a mistake since teachers have not received those raises for years. Inflation has cut the spending of what a teacher earns. ‘Ooh! That’s going to help us have quality teachers — really?’ Hunter said on rerouting the $321 million.”
It’s easy – this link will direct your email to your reps in Olympia as well as the governor. Your voice makes a difference!
*The first link shows a $587 million net increase above maintenance, but subtract the $87 million cut in health care (item six 6 on the second link) to get $500 million
On April 9th, 2013 there is an opportunity for us to talk with our legislators one last time about what educational priorities we would like them to focus on when finishing the budget. The fiscal cutoff deadline is also that day.
Appointments with legislators have been made already, we just need people to meet with them.
This is a great way to feel your voice counts. Also it’s easy, the first stop is the WEA office, and they show you the drill.
A recent Gates Foundation attempt to define how teachers should be evaluated fails to pass critical examination. Independent experts say it provides “little usable guidance about how to design teacher evaluation systems.”
Source: Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice news release
Gates’ Foundation’s MET Study Fails to Solve Teacher Evaluation Challenge
Amidst much fanfare, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently released its third and final set of findings for the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project. The project generated enormous attention and valuable data while it attempted to provide clarity on how to best evaluate teachers.
However, a careful look at the MET research — an ambitious, multi-year study of thousands of teachers in six school districts — finds the study’s results were inconclusive and provide little usable guidance about how to design teacher evaluation systems.
No summer break
“School’s out for summer. School’s out for summer!” That old song by Alice Cooper from 1972 should be resonating in your heads over the next few weeks. No, the thermometer isn’t about to hit summer highs and according to the calendar summer won’t arrive for another three months. Nevertheless, mid-March marks the time when state money in our schools runs out. Not literally; the doors of your school will stay open. But when you figure that state funding only pays for roughly 66 percent of the actual costs of running our state’s schools, the state’s share, at this point, is gone. The state funded part of the school year is over.
Let’s think about that. The state pays for only 119 of the 180 school days required by law. The state sends only enough salary money to your district to pay for maybe two-thirds of the staff, or to pay for four of the six hours in a school day. To have a complete school year and a full school day, every district has to use local funds, augmented in some districts by federal dollars, to make up for what the state doesn’t pay.
And on top of that, the Supreme Court, 14 months ago in the McCleary decision, said this current level of funding was inadequate by the state’s own definition of basic education. Even if the state suddenly paid for 100 percent of what is spent on K-12 education today, the Court said the state would still be failing to meet its paramount duty.
Led by Senate Majority Caucus Leader Rodney Tom (D-Medina) and Senate education committee chairman Steve Litzow, the Senate passed at least two bad education bills Wednesday. WEA opposed these bills, which now go to the House:
- SB 5242 is an attack on due process, basic fairness and collective bargaining. It allows school districts to fire teachers without any kind of fair or objective process and regardless of their job performance or experience.
- SB 5328 grades public schools based on student test scores, giving them a letter grade A-F.
Tom and Litzow are ignoring the state’s paramount duty to provide a quality K-12 education to all of our state’s children. Neither of these bills increases school funding or reduces overcrowded class sizes. The good news is, there are legislators who voted against these bad bills.
1. Contact Senator Mark Mullet to thank him for voting against these bad bills at email@example.com or (360) 786-7608
2. Contact Senator Steve Litzow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 786-7641 and Senator Rodney Tom at Rodney.email@example.com or (360) 786-7694 to tell them why you are upset with their support of these and other bills that are bad for kids and public education.
3. Visit www.ourvoicewashingtonea.org to stay up-to-date on what is happening in Olympia, and to contact your legislators.
4. Attend the event on March 9th at Odle Middle School in Bellevue to send a message to Rodney Tom (see attached flyer).
5. Go to one of the Town Hall meetings scheduled for March 16th and March 30th, and let your voice be heard (see attached flyer).
**Please note, legislation is subject to abrupt changes by committee or floor action. At any given moment, things may be different than they appear here. To view the bills in their entirety visit http://www.leg.wa.gov/pages/home.aspx.
|SSB 5242 Eliminates Due Process||This bill is an attack on due process, basic fairness and collective bargaining. It allows school districts to fire teachers without any kind of fair or objective process and regardless of their job performance or experience. Sen. Steve Litzow is the prime sponsor of the bill. PASSED THE SENATE WEDNESDAY. SENT TO THE HOUSE.|
|SB 5856 Eliminates Existing Pension Plans||This bill eliminates pensions for new school employees and school employees under age 45, forcing them into a risky 401(k)-style plan. Sen. Rodney Tom is the prime sponsor of the bill. SB 5851 is a related bill. STILL IN COMMITTEE|
|SSB 5851 Creates Voluntary Defined Contribution Retirement Plan||Creates a voluntary defined contribution retirement plan – which fixes the amount that the state and worker contribute, but which does not promise a fixed monthly pension like most public employee pensions do today – for employees of the state and its political subdivisions (including teachers and school employees). While the measure could save the state on pension costs, those savings will come at the expense of higher contribution rates for the current plans for employers and Plan 2 members. STILL IN COMMITTEE|
|SB 5852 Eliminates TRI/PRS Pay, Eliminates School Waiver Days||This bill is similar to an earlier version of SB 5330. It redefines basic education and would cut salaries for teachers in more than 100 school districts. Sen. Steve Litzow is the prime sponsor of the bill, which is in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. STILL IN COMMITTEE|
|SSB 5238 Gives Letter Grades to Schools Based on Test Scores||This bill pilots a program to grade public schools based on student test scores, giving them a letter grade A-F. Sen. Steve Litzow is the prime sponsor of the bill. PASSED THE SENATE WEDNESDAY. SENT TO THE HOUSE.|
|SB 5329 OSPI Taking Over Struggling Schools||This bill allows OSPI to eventually take over struggling schools. It was improved in the Senate Education Committee, but Friday the Ways and Means decimated it. Funding was stripped away and OSPI would hire and fire staff. It is worse than the original. Sen. Steve Litzow is the prime sponsor of the bill. STILL IN COMMITTEE|
|SB 5237 Student Retention Based on Test Scores||This bill mandates a complicated retention and promotion policy for third and fourth graders based on reading test scores. It also mandates specific interventions by siphoning existing funds currently used for students in all grades and subjects into one grade and subject. MODIFIED BILL PASSED THE SENATE WEDNESDAY.|