#IndivisibleU It's time for the 30,000-foot view on public education funding. Things are starting to move fast in Olympia and our voices are needed now more than ever. But it's important not to get too bogged down in the legislative wrangling because, frankly, that's not our most effective role. So first a summary.
Everyone knows about our decades long slide into chronically under-funding our schools and the subsequent McCleary decision, right? (Have friends who don’t know?! Tell them. More info: https://tinyurl.com/pgz6yj4) And everyone also knows that legislators have been trying to get this done for YEARS. The legislative session started off with a pretty good budget proposal from Governor Inslee, but no plan from Republicans. The governor's budget generates new, stable revenue for schools by closing some corporate tax loopholes and instituting a capital gains tax (https://tinyurl.com/h4o9fhy). Last week, Republicans released a plan (SB 5607) and pushed it through the Republican-controlled Senate at lightning speed. The plan is regressive to say the least, featuring teacher pay cuts, reduced special education funding, restrictions on due process, expansion of charter schools, restriction on collective bargaining, a ban on teacher strikes, and the elimination of voter-approved initiatives on class size (I-1351) and cost of living adjustments for teachers. Some districts would see an increase in funding under the Republican plan, but over 56% of students would lose funding (https://tinyurl.com/z6nf8yg).
At the same time, Democrats in the Democrat-controlled House have released a plan based on the governor's budget (HB 1843).
On Monday at 3:30pm, the House Appropriations Committee will grant a public hearing on both plans. But listen, here's where we need to understand the long game. The Republicans' plan, as outrageous as it is, is less a serious proposal and more an effort to influence the debate and eventual compromise. They are trying to show a united front and appear strong to force Democrats to accept their demands on taxes and policy. They want us to be afraid, but we all know their position is much weaker than they're letting on. They face progressive groundswell across the state and have a one-seat majority in the Senate, which they are likely to lose in November. Widespread and sustained public outrage will topple this deck of cards. To secure a progressive school funding plan for our state's kids we need to mobilize progressives across the state to demand this one simple message, "Fund basic public education with FAIR, NEW revenue this year."
So, for today, here are your actions:
1. Call your WA State representatives in the House to support HB 1843 and oppose SB 5607. (Script in comments.) You can also use these links and select "Comment on this bill".
SUPPORT -> https://tinyurl.com/zz8cdxz
OPPOSE -> https://tinyurl.com/zs4wuzl
Script in comments.
2. Do you care that every school in the state has access to the funds needed to pay quality educators, administrators, and support staff? To nurture every child no matter what their home life may look like or their personal challenges may be? To make the learning environment safe and fun? Well of course you do. But WHY? No stop yourself. Really, actually why? Think about not just your position but the reason for your _passion_ on this issue. This seems like it should be easy, but sometimes it's not. "The reason" is likely not one reason at all, but a list of things over the years. Sit with the question and see what images enter your mind. What feelings. Articulate for yourself why this really matters to you. Save this. Use this. This is your secret weapon. Legislators have no defense against an honest expression of your experience.
3. There's a lot of heat at Standing Rock right now and nobody can really document it because of the remoteness of the location. Please call the ACLU and remind them that they raised $24 million in 2 days for refugees - can we not stand for the people who were here when the first refugees arrived??? #IdivisibleLove
Script and phone numbers in comments.
#EducationFunding bonus action #1: Consider testifying in Olympia on Monday at 3:30pm. Email summer at paramountduty dot org if you can do it.
#EducationFunding bonus action #2: Want more details on these policy proposals? Do you WANT to involve yourself in the legislative wrangling? Consider becoming a member of Washington's Paramount Duty where you can get up-to-date information and immerse yourself in rich policy discussions. https://www.facebook.com/groups/ParamountDuty/?fref=nf
#EducationFunding bonus action #3: Attend this rally on Feb 20th in Olympia https://www.facebook.com/events/1648035228830203/
Katie Anthony is a writer, one of the administrators of Pantsuit Washington, and heads the Daily Do's team.
Liz Bander - writer
Angela Teater- Writer