by Steven Nelson
With local teachers walking out on their jobs and walking away from their students it leaves one wondering why? Most of the arguments we hear are “We’ve not had a cost of living adjustment for years” or “we have to reduce class size” or “We don’t spend enough on education”. Okay, the first two points conceded! The third point is always a moving target and can be addressed with fiscal responsibility. Supposing if one wanted to play the blame game for this situation you’d have to consider the history of the economy (“The great Recession”) and who’s been holding the reigns of State government the past few decades (Democrats). However, let’s not jump into that briar patch. How about we look at their demands and see where current efforts fall short.
“We’ve not had a cost of living adjustment for years”:
- The House budget has $230 million for K-12 staff salary increases providing the voter-approved increases required in I-732.
- The Senate budget makes similar increases also meeting the requirements of I-732.
- The average salary of a teacher in the Evergreen School District, for example, is $61,885 plus insurance and pension benefits valued at around $21,000 bringing their total compensation package to over $80,000 a year. While one can argue whether this is an appropriate level for a teacher or not, it is significantly higher than the median income of a Clark County resident of $59,341.
Well okay, looks like a non-issue then so let’s move on…….
“We have to reduce class size”:
- The Senate capital budget includes funding for building 2,100 classrooms to deliver on class-size reduction goals.
- The House budget has similar investment levels including K-3 class size reduction ($350 million)
- $210 million in higher pension costs – accounting for longer employee lifespan – Includes investments for higher enrollment, inflation, bilingual & special education, gifted education program, and increased costs for items such as levy equalization. All these efforts help reduces class size.
Seems more than reasonable.
“We don’t spend enough on education”:
Well here’s what being increased this year…………..
- The Senate budget includes a $2.7 billion increase in K-12 spending over two years – that’s the largest dollar increase in state history.
- K-12 spending increases by 17.8% – the largest percentage increase in 25 years (all other government sees only a 6% increase)
- Enrollment for low-income early learning increases by 4,000
- Early child care will be higher quality with new standards
- College tuition will be reduced an average 25% – the first tuition reduction since the 1970s!
The House budget has similar investment level $2.7 billion. The increase includes:
- $1.3 billion toward McCleary including K-3 class size reduction ($350 million), all-day kindergarten ($190 million), books, supplies, and operating costs ($740 million).
- As stated before $210 million in higher pension costs.
Let’s take a look at one subject you won’t hear these walkout teachers and their union masters address in their tantrums. A Teacher’s Strike is Illegal! That’s right, according to The Revised Code of Washington, RCW 41.56.120….
“Right to strike not granted. Nothing contained in this chapter [on union collective bargaining] shall permit or grant any public employee the right to strike or refuse to perform his or her official duties.”
Also the Washington State Attorney General, Bob Ferguson in a legal opinion found that…..
“State and local public employees, including teachers, have no legally protected right to strike.”
So if a teacher’s job is to teach, what are we and their students to learn from this illegal strike?
- Cry that you’re not getting what you want even though you are.
- Do as your union bosses tell you to do without questioning it or thinking for yourselves.
- Kids it’s okay to break the law when you really want something bad enough.
- Kids, the teachers may love you but they’re not above using you for a bargaining chip.
When is it going to be enough? They are getting everything they are asking for. More this year than they’ve gotten in many years. And yet they are still complaining?