More money needed for education? Who knows?

Evergreen Freedom Foundation

Olympia, WA - 1/14/03 - On Tuesday, January 14, the Washington Education Association and potentially
thousands of teachers and school personnel will march at the Capitol in
Olympia to ask lawmakers for increased public school funding. We agree with
them that an excellent education is one of the most important tools a child
needs to become an independent and productive adult.

But before state officials consider allocating more money for K-12 education
(which currently accounts for nearly half of the state’s general fund
budget), they should think about these important facts and questions:

++ According to the standards developed by our state’s Office of the
Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), 97 percent of Washington’s
schools are “failing” under the new federal No Child Left Behind
legislation. Now OSPI is considering revising the scoring system so only 50
percent of the state’s schools will be considered failing.

++ Only 68 percent of Washington’s high school students graduate. Among
minorities, the graduation rate is 50 percent.

++ More than half (51 percent) of the students who do graduate from a public
high school in our state and attend a community or technical college must
enroll in remedial reading, writing or math courses to prepare them for
college-level studies.

++ Washington has three transitional bilingual courses. Fewer than ten
percent of the students enrolled complete the transition successfully.

++ Washington spent $8,648 per public school student in 2000-01 (the latest
numbers available). Of that amount, only $3,881-less than half-was used for
what the state defines as Basic Education.

++ The state dedicates hundreds of millions of dollars to class size
reduction, yet many teachers have overcrowded classrooms. Why? Where is that
money and why isn’t it being used to reduce class sizes? What is the average
class size in Washington? So far, no one can answer those questions.

++ There are 150,500 K-12 employees and 1,101,167 students in Washington’s
public schools. That means there is one K-12 employee for every 6.7

++ There are 58,919 certificated classroom teachers in Washington. That
means there is one teacher in the classroom for every 17.1 students. In
addition, there are 3,824 certificated staff who work in administrative

++ In total, 62,743 certificated employees and 87,757 “other” employees work
in Washington’s K-12 system. What do all of these “other” employees do and
how important are these jobs compared to classroom teachers?

++ The average teacher salary in Washington state is $43,480 according to
OSPI. When benefits and supplemental contracts are factored in, the average
teacher receives total compensation of more than $57,500. The state’s rigid
salary structure prohibits excellent teachers from earning more and pays
mediocre teachers too much. The WEA is one of the major proponents of this

++ Superintendent of Public Instruction Terri Bergeson calls Governor Locke’
s proposed budget for education “devastating.” Yet Bergeson refused to
comply with the governor’s request that all state agencies evaluate and
prioritize their activities within their budgets. Her office failed to
submit a recommended budget for the state’s $1.1 billion special education
program, and even after a JLARC audit uncovered serious accountability
problems with special education funding last year, Bergeson did not attend
the audit hearing and failed to follow up on the audit.


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