In the dead of night, at 1:30 in the morning, the Senate Ways and Means Committee passed the bill proposing to address the school district levy lid issue, SB 5313.
But the only way they could do so was to meet the demands of Democratic Senators Guy Palumbo (1st District) and Mark Mullet (5th District) to add two poison pill amendments that would cut teacher pay, undermine public employee bargaining rights across the state, and increase funding for charter schools.
The first amendment would wind up slashing teacher pay and introduce the awful right-wing policies of people like Scott Walker to our state. It would limit teachers from collectively bargaining with school districts for fair wages for many important educational priorities. For example, this would prevent special education teachers from getting paid what they deserve for managing the process of IEPs for students.
The second amendment would allow charter schools to get new public money from the state, without requiring a public vote, even as the legislature claims they don’t have enough money to meet the basic education needs of students in our public schools. It would also rescind the one of the few limitations Washington currently has on establishing new charter schools in our state.
These amendments are right out of the Betsy DeVos agenda. Teachers across the state deserve good wages—not this pay cut—for the important work they do for our children in our public schools. With this proposed pay cut, the teacher shortage will likely grow worse and good teachers will leave. And, it is totally inappropriate to let charter schools have more public money, especially when our public schools are still not fully funded.
Senators Palumbo and Mullet refused to stop the cuts to local public school districts and held the entire state budget hostage unless these extreme demands were met. This is no way to govern, and it comes at the expense of our public schools and teachers.
This bill will still have to be approved by the full State Senate, the State House, and Governor Inslee. That means we have the opportunity to stop it. We need to insist that the legislature instead pass a clean levy lid lift bill that does not give money to charter schools, cut teachers’ pay, or reduce public employee bargaining rights. The bill must restore levy flexibility to all the districts in the state that need it. But we need your calls right now.
TAKE ACTION! Here’s what you can do to help.
Call or email your Senator (especially if your Senator is a Democrat) and urge them to reject these amendments — and pass a clean bill that provides levy flexibility for every district in the state.
Then, call Governor Jay Inslee and tell him to issue a public threat to veto any bill that cuts teacher pay, undermines bargaining rights, or gives more money to charter schools: (360) 902-4111.
While you’re on the line, you can also ask that your Senator and the Governor support using a capital gains tax to help fully fund our public schools, including fully funding the $235 million needed for special education across the state.
We cannot and will not rest until every single child in Washington state has an excellent and fully funded public education.