Washington State PTA would like to thank Governor Inslee for advancing the budget conversation. We like some of his ideas around targeted investment and look forward to engaging with the Senate and House appropriation committees about funding levels for K-12 education.
We would like to note, however, that the $1.2 billion – as welcome as it is – essentially covers the cuts to K-12 schools made during the recession. It does not address the significant underfunding that led to the McCleary lawsuit and that dates back a decade or more. Washington State PTA is committed to full implementation of the basic education funding reform adopted in 2009 with passage of ESHB 2261, as well as to supporting our educators in their work to meet the diverse learning needs of Washington youth.
For years, our volunteers have seen an overwhelming need to re-invest in and re-commit to our public schools. These days, our members are fund-raising for science materials, PE equipment, reading and math specialists – even professional development for staff. And the need keeps growing.
A school’s ability to teach its students should not hinge on whether a local excess levy passes, or the amount of fund-raising a community can sustain. For years, our schools have been severely underfunded, from gaps in allocations for transportation, maintenance and supplies, to gaps in operating costs. The state pays for about 3 out of 4 teachers and only partially covers a basic middle and high school day. Textbooks are on an 18-year funding cycle.
The governor’s plan addresses some of those gaps, while also keeping an eye on overall revenue needs. We like his investments in early learning and the additional instructional hours for middle and high school. We also appreciate his support for professional development, mentor programs for new teachers and principals, and for additional funds put into learning assistance. We care deeply about literacy and drop out prevention and appreciate the governor’s focus on those areas.
Washington State PTA advocates for the well-being and education of all children, and we will be watching budget proposals to make sure they address basic food, health and safety needs of children, as well as the significant reinvestment in their schools. We also are committed to making sure ongoing K-12 investments are tied to a stable funding source.
You can learn more about our legislative priorities here.
Novella Fraser, Washington State PTA president