On October 9, 2018, the State Superintendent of Schools, Chris Reykdal, issued a Press Release in which he outlined his vision of the future of K-12 education. We would like to dissect his proposals. Click this link to open a web page with the original article: Superintendent Reykdal’s Budget Moves K–12 Education Forward
- Inclusive and effective learning and teaching. $180 million would increase funding for students with disabilities and provide additional professional learning days for all school staff.
- Comment: So the increase in spending over the past 5 years, to the tune of additional billions of dollars didn’t adequately cover these items? The public has a right to expect that additional funds would not be needed given the massive increase in taxes this past year. More professional days for staff on top of the HUGE salary/benefit increases that came out of the state-wide strikes?
- Comprehensive supports. $60 million would provide more school nurses, middle school counselors, and family and community engagement coordinators.
- Comment: So sufficient support personnel weren’t built into the staffing model? Why not? The public believed that the massive property tax increase dedicated to schools should have covered all needs. But…now he comes back and says that the billions coming out of taxpayer pockets isn’t enough? Should public schools be responsible for medical care of students? Should schools have family and community engagement coordinators? How about schools focus on making sure that students can read, do math and communicate (written and verbal)? School funds have been side tracked in social programs that attempt to removed responsibility from parents. This has got to stop!
- Multiple pathways to graduation. $65 million would expand dual credit and career and technical education (CTE) programs, including opportunities for students to receive required academic credits in CTE courses.
- Comment: To be clear CTE is what us older people used to call Vocational Training. We agree that much more emphasis needs to be placed on Vocational training. However, rather than demand more money we should take some of the funds from STEM (telling every student they must go to college), we need to redirect existing funds.
- Expanded learning opportunities. $10 million would fund a pilot program for school districts or tribal compact schools to extend or expand the school day or year, or switch to a year-round schedule.
- Comment: Longer school days? If that meant more recess time we could support that…but it won’t. It will mean more testing to prove the value of longer days. Is he proposing that districts choose year-round on their own? Given the impact on surrounding districts this would be a boondoggle. Unless it was State mandated it will be a waste of money.
- Safe and effective school facilities. $400 million would allow OSPI to create a new funding model for elementary schools, which will build capacity to meet the state’s K–3 class size ratios. The proposal would also create a new program to assist primarily rural schools in preserving and maintaining buildings.
- Comment: So he’s saying that the already mandated K-3 student ratio isn’t being done…when it is? He wants to be able to hand out money to “rural” districts (how are those defined?) to help them with buildings while other areas the taxpayers need to pony up hundreds of millions to billions of dollars? Sorry but this would be used to pressure compliance with OSPI “guidance” with threats of funding withdrawal if those funded didn’t toe-the-line. Then, those rural districts who benefit will be envied by other districts and there will be a lawsuit (similar to McCleary) demanding that the State fund all school buildings and facilities which would cost hundreds of billions of dollars…and who pays those bills? So are local school capital bonds something that should go away and the State fund…?
- Dual language. $14 million would allow 12 additional school districts and tribal compact schools to receive competitive grant funding for dual language programs. Funding would also expand capacity to teach in these programs by providing stipends and bonuses to bilingual teachers and para-educators.
- Comment: Again, more money for more programs. 12 districts get something while the other 283 get nothing? So only a few districts should have dual language programs paid for by taxpayers across the State? If there is a need find a way to deal with existing funds.
- Reykdal will propose a capital gains tax, which will generate about $1 billion per year. Under Reykdal’s proposal, half of that money will go toward reducing state property taxes to ease the burden on homeowners if districts want to increase levies. The other half will be spent on OSPI’s proposed budget priorities.
- Comment: Sigh. Another billion. $500,000,000 would reduce the massive state property tax bills if districts want to increase levies? So the total taxes would, at best, stay the same…except…a new $1 billion tax. That money gets drained out of the economy. Wait…OSPI gets the other 1/2 ($500,000,000) to use as its “slush fund” for its pet projects and to guide education choices by districts. Of course those districts getting the largesse would be forever beholden. This will simply lead to more centralized control.
- Reykdal also urged the Legislature to reexamine its regionalization model, which provides more money for some districts with higher property values. Reykdal said the model was a unique calculation for each district and not regionally based.
- Comment: What’s the impact? Mr. Reykdal doesn’t say. Maybe this is a Nancy Pelosi scheme…just do it and we’ll figure it out later.
- Reykdal proposes a much simpler levy plan, where total levy authority cannot exceed 22 percent of a school district’s state and federal revenues.
- Comment: What pray tell are the details of this “plan”? Seeing 22% this would take us back to almost where we were before the recent massive State property tax increase. Oh wait…our taxes would go higher! Perhaps his majesty, the honorable Mr. Reykdal, will bless us with the details? We’ll hold final judgement until (IF EVER) he spells it all out.
- The total increase in spending he outlines above is $729,000,000
- The new capital gains tax would add another $1 billion to taxes but will be sold by saying that only the wealthy will pay the bill. The truth? Everyone selling a stock and making a profit will pay the bill and that’s a whole lot of normal people. Side note: A capital gains tax is legally considered an income tax…which is illegal in WA State. But why let the facts impact a grab for more money?
- Some 52% of the Washington State budget goes to schools now.
- There is NOT ONE SHRED OF EVIDENCE THAT MORE MONEY MEANs BETTER PERFORMANCE!
- Between 2017 and 2021 Washington State will INCREASE K-12 school funding by an estimated $7,300,000,000 (read $7.3 billion) and yet it’s not enough. Mr. Reykdal needs more.
- Taxpayers are being buried. On top of these numbers are local Capitol Bond requests. Locally one district got voters to approve nearly $1 billion. Another district got over $600 million. How much can people afford to pay? When is enough enough?
How about taxpayers and parents and grandparents demand that we re-examine our approach to education? How about we peel the layers of the onion and strip away the extraneous, the social-emotional; the PBIS; Common Core; ESSA and a host of other programs that drain money and add unnecessary personnel? How about we educate first in basics and let parents make decisions and be responsible rather than OSPI and school districts and the US Department of Education trying to raise our children?
How about we demand a voucher system and let parents decide how best to educate their children?
If we don’t put a stop to this nonsense we will lose our children and our nation.
p.s. Who is Chris Reykdal? From his Twitter page he says: Unapologetic champion for greater K-12 investments that focus on the whole child. He has also described himself as a “social warrior”. He says the opinions are his and not OSPI’s…but he is OSPI. He also chooses to let readers know that he’s not just a regular citrizen…he spells out his role as Superintendent of Public Schools so the reader know’s how he’s using his job title to promote his views. He doesn’t consider that inappropriate.