The Republican Education / Levy Swipe bill (Senate Bill S-0245), which is 122 pages long, is scheduled for a hearing on Monday, January 30, 2017 by the Senate Ways and Means Committee in Senate Hearing Room 4 at 3 pm. Please read this important Update which describes 40 drawbacks of this bill. Then, share this article with every parent and teacher you know. Then attend this hearing if you can.
This article updates the article I wrote yesterday called “Ten Reasons Parents and Teachers Should Oppose the Republican Education Plan.” On January 29, 2017, the actual 122 page bill was released. You can download the 122 page draft of this bill at the following link:
The actual language in this bill was much worse than the summary that was released to the public on January 27, 2017. Instead of 10 drawbacks, we have compiled a list of the top 40 drawbacks. I want to state for the record that this was the worst bill I have ever read and if adopted would certainly lead to the destruction of our public schools here in Washington state. It appears to me that this is the real goal of this bill – not to fund our schools but to destroy them. In order to put all of the drawbacks into one document, here are the first ten drawbacks (with the introduction) from our original article:
On January 27 2017, Washington State Republicans released their Education Funding Plan which they claim will comply with the Washington Supreme Court McCleary Decision requiring the legislature to comply with our State Constitution by fully fund our public schools. While Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal has commended the plan, in this article, we will provide ten 40 reasons all parents and teachers, regardless of their political party, should oppose the Republican Education Plan.
Note: Washington Democrats have not released their Education Funding plan yet. They claim it will be released in a few days. We have reason to believe the Democrats Plan will not be much better than the Republican Plan. We will write a critique of the Democrats Plan when it is released. But for now, we will simply focus on the problems with the Republican Plan. Here is a link to a 10 page summary of the Republicans Plan in case you want to read it yourself:
Here is a link to their slideshow about their plan:
Here is a quote from their plan claiming that it will help our schools, when in fact, if it passes, it will severely harm our schools: “Our proposal provides ample, dependable and equitable funding for all Washington students.”
Here is a link and quote from Superintendent Reykdal commending the Republican Plan.
“The proposal shows that Republicans are serious about solving the funding problem and that it understands additional resources will be needed. The proposal itself is very comprehensive. It would create a guaranteed funding level for each and every student. .. That funding level would be paid for, in part, by a state property tax capped at $1.80 per $1,000 of assessed value. I appreciate the emphasis on accountability and on providing additional support for underachieving students… I also appreciate the emphasis on teacher recruitment and retention… In the coming weeks and months we will work with the House and Senate to create a bipartisan solution that improves student achievement, empowers educators and maximizes local control.”
The Washington Education Association a more critical view of the plan.
Here is what the WEA had to say about the Republican Plan
“Though it purports to add funding, take a look at what it really does:
Cuts pay for many teachers...
Slashes special ed funding by prohibiting use of local funds for special ed.
Freezes funding for small rural districts.
Increases class size... by eliminating I-1351.
Lowers teaching requirements, allowing anyone to teach as long as they pass a basic background test. No teaching certificates would be required.
Expands the number of charter schools.
Privatizes public education.
Severely limits collective bargaining, the right to strike and due process.
It goes without saying that WEA adamantly opposes this proposal.”
A Review of Crimes Already Committed by the leaders of Both Major Political Parties Against Our Kids
Before we get into the serious flaws of the Republican Plan, which are way more serious than any of the above comments by the WEA would indicate, let’s first review the crimes already committed against our kids by the Washington State Legislature. Note that a “crime” is a serious voilation of the law.
A lot of people do not understand this, but our State Constitution is not just a series of suggestions, it is the highest law in Washington State. So violating our state constitution is actually committing a crime. The Washington State Constitution has the strongest school funding language of any constitution in the nation. Here is just a couple of quotes for those who may not have read it.
Article 9.1: Unlike other states, which made it the duty of the legislature to adequately fund our schools, the drafters of our State Constitution created a shared Paramount Duty - a duty applied to the entire State Government including the Supreme Court - when they wrote Article 9, Section 1: "It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders."
Paramount means the highest and most important duty.
Article 9.2: The first sentence in Article 9, Section 2 of our state constitution states:
"The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools."
This sentence means that the legislature must provide the funds for a uniform system of public schools. Our state constitution specifically prohibits a system of rich schools that can pass local levies and poor schools that cannot pass a local levy. It also prohibits a two-tier system of public schools in which some kids get a qualified teacher while other schools get a babysitter or no teacher at all. Uniform means that all kids are treated about the same and have the same right to a real education. These are the two laws that led to the McCleary lawsuit and the two laws that our Supreme Court have been trying – without much success – to get the State legislature to comply with.
Here are the first ten reasons to oppose the Republican Plan:
#1: The Republican Plan fails to even mention the real problem which is skyrocketing tax breaks for the rich.
The real problem - which neither party in Olympia is willing to discuss much less address – is that tax breaks for the rich get higher every year. Our currupt legislature currently gives away four dollars in tax breaks for the rich for every dollar we invest in our public schools.
Spending $40 billion per year on tax breaks for the rich leaves nothing left to fund our schools:
This is despite the fact that tax breaks for wealthy corporations are specifically prohibited by our state constitution.
Because of these illegal tax breaks for the rich, robbing billions of dollars from our schools every year, our schools are in a state of crisis. Our students are currently forced to deal with among the highest class siizes in the nation as a result of the fact that our state has among the lowest school funding in the nation as a percent of income (which is the most accurate way to measure school funding).
#2 The Republican Plan is based on lies such as the claim that the legislature has already added “billions of dollars in funding for schools.”
Legislators falsely claim that they have provided “billions of dollars” in additional school funding in the past 4 years. This is a lie. In fact, they simply moved money around from one account to another. If the legislature actually had increased funding for our schools, we would have more teachers. In fact, while the number of students has risen by nearly 100,000 in the past six years, the number of teachers has declined by over one thousand – meaning that class sizes are rising rapidly. How can Washington have billions of dollars in additional education funding – as claimed by our legislature - and not hire a single new teacher?
#3 The Republican Plan would repeal Initiative 1351 (the Class Size Initiative) thus increasing rather than reducing class sizes.
Our schools have among the highest class sizes in the nation. Here is a distribution of class sizes showing which states have low, average, above average or extremely high class sizes:
For Grades 1 through 6, the national average class size is 21 students while the average class size in Washington state is 24 students. For Grades 7 through 12, the national average class size is 27 students and the average class size in Washington state is 30 students. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_209.30.asp
High class sizes mean that struggling students do not get the help they need while our teachers are faced with the impossible task of training to instruct too many students.
Initiative 1351 would lower class sizes in Washington state down to about the national average. This would require hiring more than 10,000 teachers and building hundreds of urgently needed schools. Because legislators would rather keep giving away billions of dollars in tax breaks to the rich every year, they want to repeal Initiative 1351.
#4 The Republican Plan fails to even mention our school construction crisis
Half of our schools do not meet the health code standards or the earthquake standards. Half of our schools have water damage (which leads to mold and other toxins). Half have poor air quality. Thirty percent of our schools are estimated to have excessive lead in the water (which causes brain damage in children). Think Flint Michigan on a massive scale. Most of these problems are related to older schools. Half of our schools are more than 50 years old.
The legislature only provides about $300 per student for school construction – when what is actually needed is 10 times this amount – or $3,000 per student. As a consequence of the legislature’s gross negligence in failing to pay for school construction and repair, the school construction backlog in our state has risen to more than $24 billion.
It is likely that the Democrats plan will also fail to address our school construction backlog (because the Democrats also want to protect billions in tax breaks for the rich). Thus, the school construction crisis will continue to get worse every year as our kids are forced to spend their school days in unsafe, unhealthy classrooms that make them and their teachers sick.
#5 The Republican Plan claims to increase school funding while reducing property taxes. In fact, it reduces school funding while increasing local property taxes.
The Washington Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled over the past 40 years that local levies are unconstitutional because they result in a two-tier system of rich schools that can pass a local levy versus poor schools that cannot. Local Levies are also not a “reliable” source of revenue. Thus, local levies violate Sections 9.1 and 9.2 of the Washington State Constitution. Yet, despite this fact, by starving schools of the funds they need to operate, the State legislature has forced school districts to raise more than $2 billion per year in local levy funds – double what it was 20 years ago – just to keep their doors open.
The Republican Plan correctly repeals all local levies for funding basic education. This eliminates $2 billion per year in local funding. But the Republican Plan then only increases State Funding through the new “Local Levy” by $1.4 billion – guting over half a billion dollars from school funding!
The Devil is in the Details: According to the Republican Plan, the local levy would change to “$1.80 per thousand dollars of assessed value.” They admit that the average local levy is currently $2.54 per thousand. They then claim that this reduction in property taxes would result in an increase in school funding. Some Democrats have called this a “shell game.” but it is worse than a shell game. It is a con game because instead of merely transferring money around this plan actually reduces TOTAL school funding.
Here is the language from their proposal: “The local effort levy is a permanent property tax levy levied on behalf of school districts by the state. It is not an excess levy. The local effort levy tax rate cannot exceed $1.80 per thousand dollars of assessed value. The tax rate may be phased down to a rate not lesser than $1.25 per thousand dollars of assessed value.”
If the rate were phased down to $1.25 per thousand, then the amount gutted from school funding would exceed one billion dollars per year – meaning the firing of more than 10,000 teachers!
How can they claim they are increasing school funding when they are actually decreasing school funding by up to one billion dollars per year?
Here is the next sentence in their proposal (read it slowly. It may take several readings to understand what it is really saying): “The state backfills the amount necessary to reach the basic per pupil guaranteed funding level after applying the local effort levy but also establishes a minimum amount to be provided by the state.”
Put in plain English, the legislature would be required to “make up” the net loss of one billion dollars in local levy funds by gutting funding for other programs. Where will this additional billion dollars per year come from? There is only one “descretionary” item left in the State budget that is this large – it is the one billion per year our state invests in higher education. So the Republican plan not only fails to restore public school funding – it would also require eliminating nearly all state funding for higher education (which is currently about one billion dollars per year).
How the Republican Plan increases Property taxes on Local Homeowners:
While property taxes would decrease in some rural school districts, the total property tax rate would increase in urban and some suburban school districts. For example, the current local levy rate in the Seatte School district is $1.31 per thousand. Under the Republican plan, this new Local Levy rate would increase to $1.80 per thousand. For a $500,000 home in Seattle, homeowners would see their local taxes go up by $250 per year – while school funding in Seattle would decline by millions of dollars per year and funding for “descretionary” items like higher education would decline by more than one billion dollars per year.
In summary, the Levy Swap is really a Levy Swipe of more than one billion dollars per year from urban and suburban school districts mainly in King County with these funds being transferred to rural school districts in other counties around the state. I agree that rural school districts around our state are grossly under-funded. But the solution is not to rob urban and sub-urban school districts because they are also grossly under-funded. Nor is the solution to gut funding for higher education – which is also grossly underfunded. Nor is the solution to rob tax payers in King County – because their property taxes have already increased more than 100% in the past 20 years. The solution is to repeal the illegal tax breaks for the rich.
#6 The Republican Plan Reduces Rather than Increases Teacher Pay
The Republican Plan claims to increase the minimum teacher pay from $35,700 to $45,000 per year. In fact, what the Republican plan really does is completely eliminate real teachers by eliminating state regulations which currently require teachers to be fully trained and fully certified. Here is the quote from the Republican Plan: “School districts that meet performance standards are exempt from most state regulations… Districts gain flexibility to hire non-traditional teachers.” So real teachers could be replaced not only by non-qualified or poorly trained substitutes, they could be eliminated altogether and replaced by computer programs.
In addition, the Republican plan would eliminate the teachers union by eliminating the right of teachers to strike over either low pay or high class sizes.
#7 The Republican Plan Severely Harms Students by Falsely Labeling Most of them as Failures
Here is a quote from the Republican Plan: “By 2020 all districts have the goal of 86% (of all third grade students) meeting state standard in 3rd grade literacy. Only 54% (of all third grade students) met state standards in 2015-16 school year.”
The problem is that the standards refered to in the plan are not reasonable grade level standards written by child development specialists. Instead, they are the grotesque Common Core standards written by Wall Street consultants who have no idea of what a Third Grader is actually capable of achieving. These fake Common Core standards severely harm children by falsely labeling them as failures. For example, Common Core math standards require children to engage in Abstract Reasoning when most Third Graders are not capable of engaging in Abstract Reasoning.
The Common Core standards are measured on an extremely harmful test called the SBAC test – which is a test deliberately designed to fail most of the students who take it. Here is the results of the SBAC test compared to previous Washington state tests:
Note that 86% of Washington State students passed the NAEP test (the National Assessment of Educational Progress). This places Washington state students as among the highest scoring students in the United States and in the world. Meanwhile only 39% of these same students passed the 2015 SBAC test. Instead of shaming our kids and our teachers by falsely labeling them as failures, we should be honoring them for how well they do despite the lack of state funding!
#8 The Republican Plan would decrease rather than increase the Graduation Rate in Washington State
The Republican Plan demands an increase in the Graduation Rate from 78% to 89% in the next 3 years. Yet we know that the only proven way to increase the graduation rate is to lower class sizes so that struggling students can get the help they need to succeed in school and succeed in life.
While there are many causes of school dropouts, one of the primary causes is extremely high class sizes. High class sizes prevent struggling students from getting the help they need to succeed in school. We have known for many years that smaller class sizes make a huge difference for struggling students. In 2005, a summary was published of the largest class size experiment ever conducted. Here is the link:
Finn & Gerber, 2005 Small Class Sizes and Graduating from High School, Journal of Educational Psychology, 97 (2), 214-223. (Data from Tennessee STAR Study) https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/edu-972214.pdf
This study confirmed that even just four years in small classes increased the Graduation Rate from 70% to 88%
The STAR experiment was conducted in Tennessee from 1985 to 1990. About 12,000 students in 80 schools were randomly assigned with 6000 students assigned to a small class size of 15 to 18 students while the other 6000 students were assigned to a regular class size of 22 to 25 students in grades K through 3. In the 4th grade, all students were returned to regular size classes. Students in smaller classes had fewer attendance problems, fewer discipline problems, and much higher test scores. The helpful effect of small class sizes was most noticeable among lower income and minority students. For example, the drop out rate 12 years later among low income students was cut from 30% to only 12%. Put another way, the graduation rate among low income and minority students skyrocketed from 70% to 88%. Small class sizes were able to greatly reduce and in many cases completely eliminate the so-called "Achievement Gap" or difference between higher income and lower income students. In addition, lower class sizes reduces the teacher attrition rate.
But lowering class sizes requires hiring more teachers and building more schools which in turn requires ending or at least reducing tax breaks for the rich. This is why lowering class sizes is not even being discussed ny either political party in Olympia.
#9 The Republican Plan Privatizes Nearly Every School in Washington State
No school district in the nation has ever had 86% of Third Graders passing the SBAC test – nor can this ever happen because the test is specifically designed to fail 50% or more of all kids. Thus, the Republican Plan is designed to falsely label every school district in Washington state as a failure. After being labeled as a failure, these school districts will all be open to being privatized and handed over to For Profit Wall Street Raiders. Here is the language in the Republican Plan: “Up to 5% of schools not meeting standards can apply to be an innovation district.” “Innovative School District” means a school district that is handed over to Wall Street raiders who then turn around and fire all of the real teachers replacing them typically with computer programs that do not actually help children.
While the language sounds like it would be limited to 5% of all schools, in fact because every school district in the state would be labeled a failure by the Republican Plan, every school district would be at risk for being privatized. The public goal of these racketeers is not just to privatize a few public schools – it is to privatize all of them.
Four Steps to Converting All Public Schools to For Profit Online Schools
Online charter schools have a graduation rate of only 20 to 30% - meaning that they fail nearly all students. In fact, many students score more poorly at the end of a year in an online charter school math test than they did at the beginning of the year. So the goal is not to help students, it is to make billions of dollars by destroying students.
#10 The Republican Plan is not about Funding our Public Schools, it is about Destroying them.
The Republican Plan is really the Billionaires Plan. Billionaires do not like public schools because they do not like Democracy. Thomas Jefferson noted that our public schools are the foundation not only of economic prosperity but also of our democracy. When students are brainwashed by online charter schools, it will be easier for billionaires to control them. To learn more about the billionaires plan to destroy and take over our public schools, go to the following website:
Here are the remaining 30 drawbacks that I did not include in my first article:
#11 The Republican Plan amends or adds more than 100 Education laws
The first two pages of the bill notes that it amends more than 50 laws relating to public schools and adds more than 50 new laws.
#12 The Republican Education Bill is Radically Different from the Republican Plan Released to the Press and Public Three Days Ago
Page 4 confirms that the actual bill language is much different than the proposal released to the public two days ago. For example, the “guaranteed minimum amount of funding for each student in the actual bill is only $10,000 while the guaranteed amount in the Proposal was $12,500. For 1.1 million students, this represents a decline in funding of about 2.7 billion in just the past 3 days. To make matters even more confusing on page 6, it indicates that if the average for the school district is under $12,500 after all of the calculations are made, then the average will be brought up to $12,500. Put in plain English, this means that there are really no adjustment for low income students or high achieving students. Instead, the amount will simply be $12,500 per student regardless of their poverty status – thus severely harming high poverty school districts by treating them the same as wealthy school districts!
#13 The Republican Plan dramatically underfunds several of its promises
Page 5, Line 21 is a perfect example of how the math in the Republican Bill does not add up. Here is the quote: “An additional two to five thousand dollars per pupil guarantee for students in poverty, which is estimated to generate approximately one hundred fifty million more dollars than what funding for poverty students is projected to yield under current law.”
$5,000 per poverty student means that 200 students would get one million dollars times 150 million would mean that there are only 30,000 students living in poverty in Washington state. At $2,500 per student, there would still only be 60,000 students living in poverty in Washington State. In fact, OSPI claims there are nearly 40,000 homeless students living in the backs of cars in Washington state. My research indicates that there are more than 60,000 homeless students. The number living in poverty is over 200,000 and the number qualifying for Reduced Price Lunch is over 400,000. Thus, the Republican Bill funds only 10% of the actual number of students living in poverty. Put another way, instead of providing $2,000 to $5,000 additional per low income student, the bill only provides $200 to $500 per low income student – or about one dollar per day in additional funding – not enough to buy a single cheese burger.
#14 The Republican Plan Claims to Provide a $12,500 Teacher Recruitment Incentive for Low Income School Districts – but takes money away from kids to pay for it!
On page 6, Line 1 the bill states: “A twelve thousand five hundred dollar teacher recruitment and retention incentive for certificated instructional and certificated administrative staff in school districts where the poverty rate exceeds twenty percent.”
But on Page 6, Line 5, the bill states: “After all other funding calculations are completed, if the total per pupil funding amount for a school district is less than twelve thousand five hundred dollars when including local, state, and federal revenues, the per pupil amount is increased to twelve thousand five hundred dollars.”
Put in plain English, the bill requires that low income student funding and low income school district teacher adjustment be INCLUDED in the $12,500 per pupil amount. So the bill gives special funding with the left hand only to take it away with the right hand. In addition, the bill forces the counting of federal funding in the $12,500 average and any remaining local levy funding. Thus, it actually punishes low income school districts rather than helping them.
#15 Using a fixed Per Pupil Amount Guarantees that School Funding will be cut every year due to inflation (page 6, line 8)
Instead of using a metric tied to inflation or adjusting for inflation, such as 5% Percent of State Income, or 100% of national average per pupil spending, the bill uses a fixed dollar amount of $12,500 per student. This is already far below the national average (which is about $13,500 per student). Thus, Washington schools would continue to suffer from the lowest school funding in the nation – and things will only get worse in every future year!
#16 The bill does NOT provide AMPLE school funding (page 6, line 13)
As noted above, the funding level is far below the national average. In fact, since the bill robs about two billion dollars after subtracting local levies, while only providing about one billion dollars from the new state property tax, the bill actually results in a LOSS of school funding of about one billion dollars per year – at a time when our students are already suffering from the lowest funded most over-crowded schools in the nation.
#17 The bill does NOT provide Dependable Funding (page 6, line 19)
By failing to provide any real revenue source, the bill would force the legislature to cut about one billion dollars from other state services – such as higher education. This would cause chaos and gridlock in the legislature leading to even more “special sessions” and possibly even a shut down of the government. This is the exact opposite of “Dependable” funding.
#18 The bill does NOT provide Equitable Funding (page 6, line 23)
Because all school districts would be funded at the same almost exactly the same amount, the net effect would be to lower funding in low income school districts while raising funding in high income school districts. This may sound equal. But it is not equitable.
#19 The bill does NOT provide Transparent funding (page 6, line 27)
In fact, the funding mechanisms in the bill are a cruel hoax that combines all the deception of a shell game with all the dishonesty of a con game. There is no real, dependable or transparenting funding mechanism in the bill and no real “new revenue.” Just more money being transferred from one account (local levies) to another account (the new state local levy).
#20 The bill will not improve student outcomes because it will increase rather than lower class sizes.
The only proven way to improve student outcomes is to lower class sizes. Because this bill is certain to increase class sizes – especially in low income school districts – it is certain to harm student outcomes.
#21 The bill dramatically changes the definition of full time student – resulting in a net loss of funding for nearly every school district. (page 7, line 15).
The bill states: “The enrollment of any district must be the annual average number of full-time equivalent students enrolled on the first school day of each month.”
This is not how student enrollment is currently calculated. Currently school districts use the October 1 enrollment as the basis for the entire year. After all, teachers are hired for the entire year. There is a drop in enrollment for the rest of the year as struggling students drop out of school due to the fact that class sizes are too big and they cannot get the help they need. School districts should not be punished for the fact that the legislature refuses to fund schools so we can lower class sizes.
#22 The bill protects smaller school districts from budget cuts due to the bill while throwing medium and large school districts under the bus (Page 8, line 1 to 11).
Here is the bill language: “Any school district with an enrollment of two thousand five hundred students or less that is estimated to receive less funding under the new formula… must receive the higher amount calculated under current law.”
Once again, this bill basically protects and increases school funding for small rural school districts while gutting funding for medium to large suburban and urban school districts. As 80% of all students attend medium to large school districts, this bill harms the vast majority of students while protecting a small minority. The small minority are also protected from inflation while the large majority of students are not.
#23 The bill eliminates the Statewide Salary Schedule thus eliminating pay for additional training and/or years of experience. (page 48, lines 7 to 11)
Here is the text in the bill: “Beginning with the 2018-19 school year, there is no statewide salary schedule for certificated instructional staff. However, school district boards of directors must not provide salary increases based on a master's or other advanced degree that is not in the subject area in which the individual teaches.”
Put in plain English, not only are teachers no longer to be paid on years of experience, but school districts are prohibited from paying teachers more based on a Masters Degree in a field not directly related to the subject being taught. So a person teaching Math who has a Master’s Degree in Child Development will not receive any additional compensation – even though they may have spent several years learning about how child development and brain development affects the ability of a child to learn math. This actually makes sense as those with a Masters Degree in Child Development are the strongest opponents of the new Common Core standards – fake standards which force Third Graders to engage in Abstract Reasoning even though it is impossible for most Third Graders to engage in Abstract Reasoning. If you are going to severely harm students, the last thing you want is a teacher who understands exactly why the new Common Core standards are a form of child abuse.
#24 Additional Pay for National Board Certified Teachers is changed from mandatory to optional (Page 51 bottom and page 52 top).
This reckless and extremely unwise provision will greatly reduce the incentive for teachers to become Board Certified highly trained teachers.
#25 Poverty is defined by the United States census bureau's “small area and poverty estimates program.” (AKA SAIPE) (page 53, line 7).
There are Beginning with the SAIPE program's estimates for 2005, data from the American Community Survey(ACS) are used in the estimation procedure. The ACS survey is not accurate because many poor people do not want to admit that they are living in poverty.
The ACS poverty rate also excludes children ages 0 to 14 who are not related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. This excludes children living with grandparents or non-family members – common in poverty chaos. SAIPE uses the Poverty Threshold to determine if a child is living in poverty. Here is a link to the 2015 spreadsheet:
Using this measure, a single mom with one child is not considered in poverty if her before tax annual income exceeds $16,000. If she has two kids, she is not considered living in poverty if her income is greater than $19,000. There is no adjustment for the cost of living in any given region. Given that the minimum rent for an apartment in King County is about $1,000 per month and the average electric bill in King County is much more than $100 per month, this disgustingly inaccurate measure of poverty leaves only $200 per month to pay for all other family expenses besides heat and rent. Using this measure, the average poverty rate in Washington State is only 10 percent:
Meanwhile, the real childhood poverty rate is closer to 50% - and rising every year.
#26 The Teacher Recruitment and Retention Bonus for High Poverty School Districts is not part of basic education and can thus be repealed at any time (page 53, line 9)
There are actually several sections of this bill that claim to be not part of basic education and therefore subject to repeal at any time. Thus, school funding can be cut even more in future years!
#27 Raises the bar for Third Graders passing the unfair SBAC test from 50% to 86% by 2020. (page 57, line 14).
This bar has never been met by any school district in our nation or in our world and cannot be met because the SBAC 3rd Grade Math Test is has been designed to ignore child development and to fail about half of all students who take it.
Here is a chart confirming that Third Graders are incapable of the abstract reasoning required by the Third Grade SBAC test:
At an Opt Out meeting I attended in 2016, a mom spoke tearfully about her Third Grade son who became depressed and attempted to kill himself after failing the Third Grade SBAC Common Core math test.
Since the introduction of developmentally inappropriate Common Core standards and unfair Common Core high stakes tests, there has been a 40 percent increase in the suicide rate of elementary school students in the US and a 20 percent increase in the suicide rate of high school students. Specifically, according to the US Census, in 2000, 205 elementary school children ages 5 to 14 committed suicide. In 2013, 286 children committed suicide for an increase of 40%. In 2000, 3,988 young adults ages 15 to 24 committed suicide. In 2013, 4,741 young adults committed suicide for an increase of 19%. In total, for ages 5 through 24, in 2000, before No Child Left Behind, 4193 kids committed suicide. In 2013, the total number of kids who killed themselves was 5,027 kids for an increase of 834 needless deaths per year or a 20% increase.
Here is an example of the kind of ridiculous question this Third Grader was expected to answer. (note that this question was taken from the nation's most popular Second Grade Common Core Math Book, called Math Expressions). According to the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, "Math Expressions Common Core focuses on the priority core concepts at each grade level, identified by the Common Core State Standards, to build in-depth understanding of major mathematical ideas."
In Unit 6, Lesson 5, Problem 4 is the following question for Second Graders:
"Brian has some boxes of paper clips. Some boxes hold 10 clips and some boxes hold 100. He has some paper clips left over. He has three more boxes with 100 paper clips than he has boxes with 10 paper clips. He has two fewer paper clips left over than he has numbers of boxes with 100 paper clips. What number of paper clips could he have?"
Do not feel bad if you have trouble answering this math puzzle. We have given this problem to state legislators who were unable to solve it. The fact that state legislators are requiring Second Graders to solve math puzzles that legislators themselves cannot solve is an indication of how inappropriate the Common Core standards and tests are for very young children. What makes this question difficult is not merely that there are three equations and three unknowns, it is that there is more than one right answer to the question. The difficulty of this question is somewhere between Algebra One and Algebra Two - both of which require the ability to engage in abstract reasoning. The authors of Common Core, and the SBAC test are apparently not aware that Second Graders are still in the concrete thinking stage of brain development and are not capable of abstract reasoning.
Here is how such age inappropriate questions and tests harm young children:
Any member of the legislature who votes for this bill should be required to jump over a bar 10 feet off the ground while being taped by TVW – and when they fail to jump over the 10 foot bar, they should be deprived of their salary for at least a year as punishment for not being able to do the impossible.
#28 The bill magically raises the bar for high school graduation from 78% to 89% -without any increase in school funding or any decrease in class sizes by 2024. (page 57, line 21)
This is also not possible in high poverty school districts without dramatically decreasing class sizes so struggling low income students can actually get the help they need to succeed in school.
#29 Deals with the Teacher Shortage by eliminating the need for school districts to hire highly trained and qualified teachers – allowing school districts to hire babysitters instead.
This ridiculous lowering of teaching training is described on pages 66 to 68. The bill claims that replacing highly trained teachers with babysitters will improve educational outcomes. This claim, like the rest of the claims in this bill, is absurd.
#30 Page 69 excepts high achieving school districts from state regulations.
This includes the “freedom” to get rid of all of the experienced teachers and replace them with a combination of babysitters, robots and computer programs. The purpose of this section seems to be to make sure that any high achieving school district does not remain a high achieving school district for very long. Here is a quote from the top of page 70:
“Employ certificated instructional staff as required in RCW 28A.410.025. The school districts, however, may hire noncertificated instructional staff as provided in RCW 28A.150.203(7)”
#31 The bill encourages school districts to tear up any and all collective bargaining agreements!
Here is a shocking quote from line 21 of page 70: “A school district identified by the state board of education as being granted additional flexibility under this section is encouraged to exempt schools within the district from all school district policies and collective bargaining agreements.”
Tearing up the teachers collective bargaining agreement! Now there is a real incentive to make teachers want to raise student test scores!
#32 Regulations are waived not only for high achieving school districts but also for low achieving school districts.
These provisions begin on page 71 – if you really want to read them. This section is likely to apply to many more school districts that the high achieving section since there is not likely to be a school district in the state where 86% of Third Graders can pass the 3rd Grade SBAC test. In fact, I doubt that more than a handful of legislators could pass the 3rd Grade SBAC math test. As punishment for writing this bill, we should make everyone in the legislature take the 11th Grade SBAC math test and then publish their scores on the front page of their local newspaper.
#33 Bottom line of pages 71 to 72: If schools are on target to meeting the ridiculous standards, then they can be privatized and turned into charter schools. If they are not meeting standards (failing schools), then they can also be privatized and turned into charter schools.
#34 Page 73 Teacher Babysitter Retention Program is actually a Teacher Gutting Program
So far, this crazy bill has gotten rid of the Teachers Contract, decreased their pay, increased their class sizes, ignored their training and replaced them with babysitters. So I guess we should call this the Babysitter retention program. Actually, this section does not count since it is “subject to available funds.” Since we all know that the legislature is not going to actually provide any funds, there is no point in even reading this section.
#35 The Bill Prohbits Teacher Strikes (page 75)
Why not just prevent the teachers from breathing? All humans have a basic right to strike when working conditions become intolerable. Teachers more than any other group have been at ground zero in the billionaire attack against our public schools. They have frequently struck not for more teacher pay but for lower class sizes because they know that low income struggling students are not getting the help they need to succeed in school. This draconian anti-strike provision would eliminate the last line defender of our children and their right to an education.
#36 Eliminates lower class sizes for grades K through 3 Page 80.
The legislature was never going to fund it anyway so why not just get rid of it. In fact, why not just get rid of schools entirely and put Third Graders to work in sweat shops producing toys for billionaires. Lowering class sizes is the only proven way to increase the graduation rate.
#37 Page 85 line 17 drastically changes the definition of Transportation to and from school
Our Supreme Court has ruled that Transportation was from the child’s home and back to the child’s home. This bill changes it to mean from the bus stop and back to the bus stop. This would allow school districts to save lots of money on buses. All they need to do is make the bus stop to be 10 feet away from the school and there would no longer be a need for any buses.
#38 Page 119 gets rid of all Prototypical School Funding
This includes stuff like have a school nurse in every school and a school councilor in every school. The legislature promised to provide all of this stuff by 2018 way back in 2009 but never funded it. So it is now time to admit that the legislature never intended to really fund everything needed to run a real school.
#39 Page 120 Line 7 gets rid of Initiative 732 Teacher Cost of Living Adjustments
Even though the voters passed this Initiative by a two to one margin, the legislature never fully funded it. So this is also simply admitting that they have no intention of paying teachers a fair living wage.
#40 Repeals Initiative 1351… The Class Size Initative
I could not find this provision in this 122 page bill. But it is in the summary documents, so I will take their word for it that somewhere in this bill, they slipped in a sentence that says “Initiative 1351 is repealed.”
Conclusion… It is time for Teachers and Parents to Wake Up and starting doing some serious research!
The WEA is currently supporting the Governors plan for school funding. This plan would impose about one billion dollars in carbon taxes every year and another one billion in capital gains taxes every year. Some of this new money might go towards schools. But given what usually happens in Olympia, this new revenue is just as likely to go into more tax breaks for the rich. I will write a detailed summary of the Democrats Plan after it is released. In the meantime, there are real solutions to the school funding crisis. I describe these solutions in detail at the following website:
Put simply, we do not need any new laws and we do not need any new taxes. All we need to do is enforce the Washington State Constitution by demanding that all 700 tax breaks for wealthy corporations be declared null and void. In addition, we need to start a Public Bank in Washington state like the Bank of North Dakota. This would save more than $4 billion per year we are currently sending to Wall Street Banks. To learn more about this, please read the following website:
As always, I look forward to your comments and questions.
David Spring M. Ed.
Coalition to Protect our Public Schools