The short answer was best said by Malala Yousafzai, “Education for EVERY child.” [Emphasis my own.]
Friday, May 15, Chimacum School District educators voted unanimously to join many other schools in Washington state in what are being called rolling walkouts. (See this article in a local WA newspaper, the Peninsula Daily News.) Schools all over our state are having one day walkouts, or strikes, to urge our state government to fully fund public education. By fully funding public education we are investing in our future. By showing ALL children in our state that we care enough to provide them with the best education we are investing in our future. Both my children attend Chimacum Schools. My son will be graduating this year so he is a home grown Chimacum student, K-12. My daughter is in 6th grade this year so has years to go before she graduates from Chimacum. They deserve a quality public education just like every child in our state. In our country. In our world.
Chimacum School District (CSD) is a small district. We have somewhere around 70 certificated teachers. Why would a school as small as ours even bother to strike? I mean we have a very supportive community who passes levies for our children, so why put them through having to find child care for a day or having to take their kids to work or having to leave their kids at home?? Frankly, it shouldn’t matter how small a school district we are. If big school districts can let our legislators know that they aren’t sufficiently funding education and that we, as parents and voters and public school employees, are urging them to do just that, then even tiny, little CSD can join in having our voices heard. But CSD is not just any school district in WA state. CSD is THE district where Stephanie McCleary works. CSD is THE district where Mrs. McCleary worked in 2007 when she and her husband agreed to be plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the State of WA for not fully funding education. (See The McCleary Case. See a copy of the actual lawsuit.) We felt the need to stand behind Mrs. McCleary and the stand she made for ALL our children.
Sure, we could have said no. Let’s sit back and continue writing letters and sending emails. Let’s continue Tweeting and sharing on Facebook. But you know what? We’ve been doing that. For years. And things have gotten a little better. But we’re not there yet. And we’re too close now to stop fighting for our kids. The lawsuit against the state of WA was filed in December of 2007. The purpose of the lawsuit was to define and get the WA legislature to follow the following article in our state’s constitution: “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.” Article IX, Section 1, Washington State Constitution.
A Seattle Superior Court found in favor of the plaintiff on all counts in 2009. The state appealed and in January of 2012 the WA State Supreme Court upheld the Seattle court’s original ruling. There is no doubt. It’s the right thing to do by our kids. It’s the law for goodness sake. Our state has until 2018 to increase funding and do right by our kids.
What is the state not doing or not doing well?
- Voters in this state approved Initiative 1351 to lower class sizes for K-12. Kids in middle and high school deserve lower class sizes too. Teacher-student relationships can happen with lower class sizes. It’s what our kids deserve. Both chambers want to cancel I-1351! Both chambers and the Governor want to reduce the funding to K-3. This is not what voters asked for.
- Testing, Common Core, and our teacher evaluation work just fine without high stakes. I’ve written plenty about standardized testing. Standards and testing are meant to be used to help kids not hurt kids. We are urging for a REDUCTION in testing requirements for our kids. Tying test scores to evaluations has been proven to NOT work and yet that’s what our legislators are pushing for. No.
- The state conservatively anticipates $3 billion in revenue over the next biennium yet the Senate’s proposed budget would provide $1.3 billion on unreliable revenue forecasting methods. The House budget anticipates $1 billion in revenue due to a capital gains tax. (WEA – our state’s teacher union – is my source.)
- Education is budgeted somewhere around $1 billion yet in two days the legislature found $9 billion to support Boeing. It seems that they can find funding. (WEA – our state’s teacher union – is my source.)
- Legislators will receive an 11.2% increase in pay this year. Teachers have NOT received a Cost of Living Allocation (COLA) increase in six years! (I personally have been taking home approximately $100/month LESS each year for the past four years. That means I make $400 less per month now than I did in 2011. I can’t continue to live this way. Remember, a COLA is NOT a pay increase. We’re just asking to have our salaries reflect the increased cost of living. When the state was low on revenue teachers didn’t strike when they decreased our pay and took away our COLA. We didn’t agree to that forever though!
- Health insurance costs continue to rise yet our health insurance funding has not increased. Well, health care funding has not increased for teachers. State employees will get a health care funding increase, EXCEPT for teachers. What is up with that?!? I know health care is tough all over but when health care is factored into my yearly salary to make it look like I’m making a LOT more than I actually am that’s not telling the whole story. It’s downright misleading. I’m not living high off of any hog. I pay close to $500/month to have health care for my family. So in effect health care is costing me a pretty penny.
Until the WA State legislatureÂ increases funding so that schools can lower class sizes and caseloads K-12,Â until the WA State legislature increases salaries to get and retain high quality teachers and substitutes, and until the WA State legislature increases health care insurance funding equitable to other state employees our work will not be done and they will NOT be fulfilling their PARAMOUNT duty of making ample provisions for ALL children in our state to have the education they deserve. The education afforded to all citizens of this great country.