OLYMPIA - January 31, 2011 - State Superintendent Randy Dorn testified today in front of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee about
Senate Bill 5475. SB 5475 would delay some of the recommendations of the Quality Education Council, of which Dorn is the chair. Here is the full text of his remarks:
I’m here today to testify in opposition to Senate Bill 5475.
In 2009, the Legislature passed House Bill 2261. That historic bill created the Quality Education Council, which was tasked to implement a new and fair education funding system by 2018.
In 2010, the Legislature approved the phase-in of funding for a new transportation system and increases to maintenance, supplies and operating costs (MSOC), as the QEC recommended.
But SB 5475 doesn’t require MSOC increases or a continued phase-in of full-day kindergarten in the next biennium. Both of those were recommended by the Quality Education Council.
In effect, passing SB 5475 would slow much of the momentum we’ve been building for two years to a crawl. It also would push costs on to the next biennium, creating not a solution but a funding crunch in the future.
What’s worse, this is on top of the cuts to education we’ve had to face during the past two years. And it’s on top of the cuts we’re going to face for the next two years.
The cuts will hurt our students. Some of their lives will be changed, for worse, because of the cuts.
In just the past two years, the state has cut voter-approved funds to reduce class sizes ($458 million). The state has cut $40 million for professional development for science and math teachers, and at least another $40 million that was supposed to reduce funding to keep class sizes down in the early grades. It has elected not to fund cost-of-living increases for teacher salaries ($353 million).
Now, in the proposed budget, you are being asked to completely eliminate funding for lower class sizes in grades K-3, which is $171 million. You are being asked to cut $40 million from levy equalization – funds that pay for basic needs in dozens of districts. You are being asked to deny teachers their annual step increase in salary ($56 million), and break your promise to them of a $5,000 bonus payment if they earn national board certification – plus another $5,000 if they teach in high-poverty schools.
There is even talk of shortening the school year.
What are the effects of the cuts?
- Class sizes will rise.
- Hundreds of teachers and support professionals will lose their jobs.
- We will fall farther behind in terms of per pupil spending.
- Kids will spend even less time in the classroom.
In other words, the cuts aren't just numbers – they represent a bleaker future for an entire generation of our kids.
This past week, President Obama said that we live in an age of global competition. We can't afford to do this to ourselves.
I have sat where you are sitting now. I understand that everyone is telling you not to cut their program.
But there can only be one paramount duty.
The Constitution separated education from the rest of state government and made it paramount. You have a duty to fully fund education. The courts have ruled we aren't doing that now – imagine what they will say if we make these massive cuts!
Finally, as a former legislator, I know how lawmakers sometimes talk about how they aren't hearing from folks back home, so there must not be a problem. As a former principal, I also know that educators are a little busy right now trying to get by with less. They may not have the time to call, write, or come down here and talk to us. That fact is completely irrelevant. It doesn't matter.
Here is what matters: you have a duty that goes beyond partisan politics. You have a duty to the constitution, to our kids, and to our future.
In my opinion, you have no choice but to do your job. No more cuts to our schools.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K-12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine Educational Service Districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.
OSPI does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual preference/orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.
OSPI Communications Manager
Twitter | Facebook | Flickr