State teachers union’s radio ad is one big lie

We’re living in an era of extreme political voices, especially at the national level. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then our state teachers union, the WEA, must be blushing. Ratcheting up the pressure, truth be damned, has been its M.O. for some time now.

The group is running newspaper ads and a massive radio campaign against the Senate Republicans’ budget proposal. Political arguments inevitably involve shading the truth toward one’s preferred outcome, but there are limits. You wouldn’t know it from these ads.

When they start the radio ad saying the Senate’s budget proposal is “a page out of the Trump-DeVos education agenda,” you know it’s only going to devolve from there.

The WEA’s ads have no connection to the truth. Their assertions beg for point-by-point refutations, but the short version is this: These ads are just one big lie.

In their own words
Here is the meat of the WEA’s claims from its radio ad:

“The Senate Republican budget is a page out of the Trump-DeVos education agenda. They promise a lot, but their budget is just a shell game that doesn’t increase funding or address inequality in our schools.”

“The Senate Republican budget slashes spending for special education, takes away local flexibility and local control of schools, forcing many districts to cut teacher pay and fire school employees.”

The WEA wants to paint a frightening picture of dastardly Republicans slashing schools funding. This is laughable. The reality is, schools funding has risen precipitously in recent years, including in Republican budgets. As you can see in the chart below, state K-12 spending has risen significantly, and will grow even more under the Senate Republicans’ budget proposal to satisfy the McCleary case.

On a per-student basis, it’s phenomenal growth. To say that this budget proposal “doesn’t increase funding” is absurd.

“Local control” is sleight-of-hand
You might recall (OK, you probably don’t) that last December I predicted to you that “local control” would be the WEA’s top buzzword for 2017. Sure enough, the WEA is trying to scare voters into thinking the Senate Republican budget proposal “takes away local flexibility and local control of schools.”

This whole local control argument is just sleight-of-hand. It’s a diversion to focus your attention away from what the WEA doesn’t want you thinking about. The Senate GOP’s budget involves a “levy swap,” a very sensible proposal to raise the state property tax for schools while lowering local property taxes.

The WEA doesn’t like this idea. In its ideal world, the state would increase K-12 spending significantly to meet the McCleary decision but still allow local school levies to stay at the same high rate. They want it all. It’s a soak-the-taxpayer plan.

That’s the WEA’s end game. That’s what it means by “local control.” It’s safe to say, that’s not most taxpayers’ end game. But a more sensible approach is a “shell game,” according to the union.

Who is for inequality?
Despite saying the Republican budget doesn’t “address inequality in our schools,” the WEA’s preferred approach is exactly what would exacerbate the inequality problem. Keeping local property tax rates high means letting the gap grow between rich school districts and the rest of the state’s districts. That disparity is unconstitutional; in fact, it’s a key component of the McCleary case.

Opposing incentive pay for attracting teachers to high-poverty schools – which is a WEA position – likewise makes the inequality problem worse.

The Senate Republicans’ budget proposal spends much more on K-12 schools, fairly spreads out the tax burden while respecting taxpayers’ sacrifices, and institutes a just per-pupil spending model. The WEA would rather distract you with arguments about “local control” so they don’t have to talk about what they really want: Higher state taxes and higher local taxes.
-Rob McKenna

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Rob McKenna
Rob served two terms as Washington’s Attorney General, from 2005 to 2013. He successfully argued three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and negotiated three of the largest consumer financial protection settlements in national history, all involving mortgage lending and servicing. He is a recognized leader in the development of consumer protections on the internet, in data protection and privacy regulation.
  • Mike N

    Unfortunately fully funding education is all about the teachers and teacher pay and not about the kids as they would like you to believe.

  • RyanGrant

    This post is beneath you.

    “The WEA wants to paint a frightening picture of dastardly Republicans slashing schools funding. This is laughable. The reality is, schools funding has risen precipitously in recent years, including in Republican budgets. As you can see in the chart below, state K-12 spending has risen significantly, and will grow even more under the Senate Republicans’ budget proposal to satisfy the McCleary case.”

    This is a lie of substitution, where you’re arguing against a case that the WEA didn’t make. The WEA made two very specific claims–special education and local control–and both of those claims are absolutely true. The Senate budget would forbid using local money to pay for special education expenses, and the Senate Republican budget is completely mute on how to make up for that loss, and that means cuts to special education. The Senate Republican budget does remove local control over levies, mandating that they be approved by the Olympia bureaucracy, and that’s absolutely true, too. Your chart about the level of state funding is completely unrelated to either of those two issues. You’re being dishonest. Please be better.

    But for fun, let’s go ahead and parse the second part of that from above:

    “As you can see in the chart below, state K-12 spending has risen significantly, and will grow even more under the Senate Republicans’ budget proposal”

    ….and here’s the lie of omission, where you talk about the increase in state funding without talking about how it’s also tied to a concomitant loss of local funding, meaning that a bunch of school districts would be lucky to break even and no one would receive the windfall amounts that you and Braun are promising.

    “This whole local control argument is just sleight-of-hand. It’s a diversion to focus your attention away from what the WEA doesn’t want you thinking about. The Senate GOP’s budget involves a “levy swap,” a very sensible proposal to raise the state property tax for schools while lowering local property taxes.”

    Speaking of slight-of-hand, brilliant job deflecting to the levy swap without talking about the other parts of the Senate budget, like new limits on what communities can do with local money, a mandate that SPI approve any levy before it can be run, new accounting requirements, and a bevy of other mandates. I’ll give you credit for actually acknowledging that the Senate proposal is a tax increase–God knows the Senate Republicans run from that phrasing–but that’s also a loss of local control: I get to vote on a local property tax, but I don’t get to vote on the state property levy. How is that *not* a loss of local control, to you?

    “But a more sensible approach is a “shell game,” according to the union.”

    A shell game, like taking local taxes, making them state taxes, and pretending this is an increase in funding? C’mon, Rob.

    Have a nice day.

    • Linda Dieck Siegel

      @RyanGrant You DO get to vote on state taxes–it’s called your election ballot. Do you have any innovative/creative suggestions for how to obtain more state monies for education?

      • RyanGrant

        “You DO get to vote on state taxes–it’s called your election ballot.”

        There’s clearly a degree of separation between voting for the representatives who debate tax policy vs. voting directly on a local property tax.

        If we’re looking for innovation, the sales tax or the property tax are not the answer.

        • Cre8tive Clyde

          @RyanGrant:disqus

          The current education system is thick with unnecessary bureaucracy that should be heavily trimmed, saving many millions of dollars. Look at just the Seattle school system, the numbers of administrators, etc. Borders on criminal.

          But my argument is with their (our education system) results. In three words, THEY ARE ABOMINABLE. Over 40% of students leaving school are non-readers or crippled readers, unable to function in our reading society. Why? Because they refuse to use a more effective system called Read Right. Too much to type but you can google it if you’re interested.

          70% of all felons in our prison system are crippled or non-readers. I maintain they are there in part because of the failure of our school system to enable them to read as fluently as they talk. Note that I did not say “teach them to read.” It can’t be done effectively.

          How did you learn to talk, Ryan? Did you parents lean over your crib or bed and say “This is Daddy, Daddy is a noun?” Of course not. You learned to talk by having your brain bathed, day after day, in meaningful sound and pretty soon your brain ‘got it’ (built a neuronal network for talking) and you were cheered on when you said ‘Mama’ or ‘Daddy’ and your brain understood this was good and did more of it. It’s a good thing schools don’t teach talking or we’d have remedial talkers.

          So, the way to do reading is to create the environment in the classroom where the brain is bathed in meaningful sound and print so the brain can do its job—and it WILL figure it out. And 99% of children who talk normally will learn to read as fluently as they talk. Can’t think of anyone who would not want that, so why do they keep doing what doesn’t work well enough and produces crippled and non-readers (and remedial classes, teachers, confidence-sapping environments, etc.)

          The brain builds an physiologically-existing neuronal network for everything in your life that you can put the words “How to….”in front of. Did you learn to roller skate? Ever fall down? Ride a bike? Ever take a spill? Drive a car? Scratch your nose without putting your finger in your eye? How to speak and how to read do exactly the same thing—build a network it accesses every time you want to do the “how to…”.

          Every brain is the same just like every heart beats, every lung breathes, etc. The brain’s job is to make sense of the world and it builds networks to do so by responding to the system used to stimulate it and give it right processes and environments.

          This is a long post but until we get WAY better results from our lousy system, pouring more money into it Will Not Work!! We’ve already poured more Billions into it and the results haven’t changed very much. In many places, they have gotten worse.

          Paul’s Law: “Doing harder and faster what isn’t working, or working well enough, is rarely the answer. It’s the System that must be changed.” Or, Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting to get different results”. That is our core problem in education—we are witnessing a state of insanity day after day as we do the same thing over and over, praying for different results, this time.

          Not going to happen.