The State Budget: Victory of Teachers’ Unions, The Rest of Education NOT SO MUCH

From The Seattle Times: Where does the new state education fund go?


  • The budget plan will shift the burden of covering teacher-salary costs to the state to comply with McCleary v. Washington. Lawmakers plan to do this by instituting a state property-tax hike in property-rich school districts like Seattle, where taxpayers could see a $400 uptick. The plan also caps the amount of money that can be collected by local taxes.

Beginning teachers would make at least $40,000. The maximum would be $90,000, although districts could pay more in areas with higher housing costs and for educators who teach science, technology, engineering and math or provide bilingual and special-education instruction.

Scrapping something called the “staff-mix ratio,” a school funding formula that allocates money to schools based on teacher expertise and education level. Some have argued the formula disproportionately favors richer districts.

If I read this correctly, it is very deceptive.  Basically it is massive increase for entry level teachers, that is the base of the unions.  

Real salaries for teachers, as negotiated by unions, are comprised of a base salary (covered now, hopefully, by the state) and additional pay for required work (e.g. training days and other school activities) overtime work (e.g. supervision of after school activities).  The combination of the two, at least as I have read in Seattle, add from $10,000 to $20,000 to a beginning teacher wages. 

The changes do very little, other than K-3, about class sizes.  In an era where we hear that STEM is essential for future jobs, there is nothing here that prevents putting a hundred kids in a classroom learning programming.  Make it worse, STEM really does require investments teacher training, software and hardware purchases, etc. Advantage?  The Wealthy. 

As for diversity, it seems utterly missing at a time when our state is becoming more divers.  How do you recruit teacher fluent in Mandarin or French?  Or convince some upwardly mobile African American to move from Atlanta or DC to teash in ohso rich Seattle?  Oh, and Spanish language or chances for kids from different minorities?  Advantage: The Wealthy.

Oh yeh, what about the gifted? As is usual in WASTATE, highly capable kids are lumped with Special Education.   Having been a part of Seattle’s program, I am pretty sure there is effectively no money available for kids with high achievement unless they play basketball or football.  Of curse parent funds solve much of this when kids live where money grows on trees.  Advantage: The Unions and the Wealthy.

And then there is the impact of this budget on the PhD grads of our own excellent universities.  Imagine the number of kids who earn PhDs in English or History or Art.  Outside of Starbucks, these young folks might be recruited to teach.  But, there is no incentive pay for THEIR education and the unions work to support the bulk of their members, Ed School graduates. Advantage: The Unions and the Wealthy.

Other changes include:

• A three-tier regional difference in how much the state provides for school employees, starting in the 2018-19 school year, based on housing costs.
• Increases to the amount of money provided for students who are below grade level, or are eligible for special-education or highly capable programs.
• Control of health benefits for all school employees would be moved from individual districts to the state.

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