While lawmakers continue to work on final McCleary fix, lobbying continues over how much, and what policies should change.
Once again, most of the news about the McCleary school-funding fight this week came from outside the Capitol, where a group of lawmakers continues to meet, trying to come to an agreement on how to satisfy a state Supreme Court ruling that requires a big boost in school funding.
The education-advocacy group Stand for Children, for example, released the results of a new poll of likely voters that found 51 percent of respondents had not seen, heard or read anything about the McCleary case.
In the poll, conducted by the Los Angeles-based FM3 firm, about two-thirds of respondents reported believing that Washington’s public-school system needs a boost in funding. And most respondents — 51 percent — said schools “definitely” need more money.
FM3 conducted its poll of 500 likely voters between May 11 and 16, with a margin of error of 4.4 percent.
The Washington Education Association also ran a radio ad that says a Republican plan for public school funding would hurt schools.
The Tacoma News Tribune on Saturday fact-checked the claims, and found some true, some false, and some in-between.
Among them: The paper said the claim that the Senate Republican budget “doesn’t increase funding” for the state’s public schools is false, although it noted that Republicans aren’t proposing nearly as much of an increase as Democrats.
Last Sunday, The Seattle Times reported on the unresolved fate of an important but little-known formula baked into the state’s broken school-finance system.
Several influential interest groups, including the business think tank Washington Roundtable, are lobbying the Legislature to do away with the staff mix, a five-digit numeral that quantifies the average experience and educational level of a district’s teachers. Districts with a higher staff mix get more money for teacher salaries than districts with a lower one.
Critics argue that using staff mix hurts districts with a younger, less-experienced staff, which often happens in places with a lot of at-risk students.
The powerful state teachers union and other staff-mix supporters, however, say that eliminating the staff mix would encourage districts to rely on cheaper, less-experienced teachers.
Finally, the Washington Education Association and Washington’s Paramount Duty are planning a candlelight vigil Friday evening at the Capitol to show their support for ample funding for schools and to protest the Republicans’ budget proposal.
And this coming Wednesday, the City Club of Tacoma will host “McCleary — An Education MUST,” featuring Senate Majority Floor Leader Joe Fain, R-Auburn, Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, and Nate Gibbs-Bowling, a teacher at Tacoma’s Lincoln High School.
Moderated by the News Tribune’s Melissa Santos, the three will discuss public-education funding.
The event will be held at the University of Puget Sound.