Respect the state constitution and fully fund education

Did you know that our state constitution requires Washington to fully fund basic education? In fact, it calls it the state’s “paramount duty”. Washington has the strongest language of any state when it comes to education funding—no other state constitution protects public education to the extent ours does.

So, WHY are the Governor and legislators considering the following in order to balance the state budget?

1)  Reduce the school year by 5 days.
2)  Increase class sizes by average of two students per  class in grades 4 through 12.
3)  Cut teacher salaries.
4)  Reduce teacher health care benefits.
5)  Slash funding for 1,000 preschool students.
6)  Reduce assistance to property-poor school districts by $150 million.
7)  Suspend salary step increases for teachers.
8)  End sick leave cash-out for employees not retiring.
9)  Eliminate funding for student bus transportation.
10) Eliminate the National Board bonus.
11) Cut funding for all-day kindergarten in high-poverty schools.

Here are the facts:

1)  Washington is 49th in the nation in class size.
2)  We rank 47th in the nation in per-pupil spending.
3)  We’re dead LAST in average compensation among West Coast states.
4)  Nearly 3,700 educators’ jobs have already been slashed by the legislature.
5)  Enrollment in our state has surged by almost 7,000 students.
6)  The legislature suspended all funding for I-728, which provided class size reduction money to districts.
7)  Gone also is I-732, which guaranteed an annual cost-of-living adjustment for school employees.
8)  Salaries for teachers were cut an equivalent of 6.4 days over the past several years.
9)  Health benefits have been frozen for teachers, despite increases in medical premiums.
10) The legislature “hijacked” federal funding for education jobs, keeping the money intended to go directly to local school districts.
11) The legislature cut almost $2.5 billion from public schools during the last three legislative sessions.

As a part of a Day of Action across the state, November 28, this petition will be delivered to our legislators as they start the special session to deal with the projected $2 billion shortfall. In solidarity, teachers, district workers and pro-public education supporters will be wearing red to signify our collective belief that our legislators should NOT CUT public education and instead find other solutions to our tax revenue shortfall.

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