Liv Finne, with the Washington Policy Institute, shared some facts and thoughts about the K-12 education funding and outcomes in a blog article. It’s short and to the point and makes the situation crystal clear. Please take a few minutes to read her blog article.
Here are our take-aways when we read it:
- Public schools in Washington State have had a 75% increase in funding since 2009-11 which equals $9.7 billion. Inflation in that time was 19%. Total funding $22.6 billion.
- The most recent school property tax the Democrats put in place represents a ~17% increase in one (1) year for the median priced home owner.
- Teachers unions (led by the WEA) led to strikes across the state which got them double-digit increases.
- The WEA is pushing legislators (in conjunction with OSPI and the State Superintendent Chris Reykdal) for more spending and more tax increases.
For years school district officials and the powerful WEA union have said they can’t improve public education unless they receive massive increases in public money. They promised the new money would allow them to improve student learning, reduce class sizes, and help districts balance their budgets.
They got what they wanted. Washington state taxpayers have now paid billions in higher school taxes, yet little of the promised benefits for children have happened. Instead, the WEA union and school districts have already launched a campaign to get taxpayers to pay even higher taxes for schools as soon as the legislature convenes in January.
The legislature has recently poured money into the schools. Washington’s K-12 schools now get $22.6 billion in state funding, $9.7 billion more than the $12.9 billion provided to schools in 2009-11. That’s a 75% increase (inflation was 19%).
Seattle Public Schools, for example, now receives $955 million in operating funds, or $18,000 per student, more than tuition at most private schools. In 2009-10 the Seattle Public School budget was $558.3 million, or $12,100 per student.
To fund these increases, Washington state taxpayers now pay significantly higher property taxes. In King County, for example, the owners of a median priced home (estimated currently at $509,000) have seen their property taxes increase by $800, or 17 percent, to $6,000 a year. This burden falls hardest on those least able to pay; the poor, the young, immigrant households, and the elderly living on fixed incomes.
This past fall, executives at the powerful WEA union targeted 29 school districts with strikes, even though teachers strikes are not permitted under state law. Of these, 15 districts were hit with strikes, putting some 164,000 students out of school. In all, the education of one in three children were affected by strike action this year.
Under union pressure, many school districts agreed to double-digit pay increases. The districts of Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma and Edmonds report that union contracts have put their budgets into deficit. In January school district officials will be first in line in Olympia trying to raise property taxes even higher to bail out their district budgets.
These enormous spending increases have done little for students. Reading scores remain mostly flat, while math scores have declined. The achievement gap between low-income students and their peers remains too large. Results for special needs students are also unacceptable.
Years of experience shows this policy enriches schools and unions, but it fails students and their families.
While lobbying for yet more money, school administrators deny services that would help parents meet the education needs of their children. They oppose allowing families to have fully-funded education savings accounts, vouchers or tax credit scholarships to help families pay for specialized, private education services. Worse, the WEA union is trying to close every charter school in the state.
The legislature makes no effort to offer educational choices, reduce the power of the WEA union, or prevent illegal strikes.
All of this means state taxpayers are likely to be called on to pay even more for schools, especially after union talks put school budgets into deficit. In return, families are likely to get more strikes, larger class sizes, disappointing test results, and large achievement gaps for minority and special needs students.
Is this what you want? If you sit idly by and say nothing you will get handed a bigger tax bill. You might want to read our article about K-12 performance by State to see that more money solves nothing: https://swweducation.org?p=5285 OR read about the new budget Chris Reykdal is proposing: https://swweducation.org?p=5297 OR read about the latest State testing (SBAc) and the abysmal failure to show for all those dollars: https://swweducation.org?p=5241