The following statement is from Representatives Farrell, Pollet, Walkinshaw, Santos, Pettigrew, Tarleton, Carlyle, Ryu, Kagi, Fitzgibbon, and Bergquist, and Senators Frockt, Pederson, Jayapal, Kohl-Welles, Chase, and Hasegawa.
“The Seattle educators’ strike has highlighted that it is the responsibility of the Washington State Legislature to fully fund education and avert future strikes. If the state had done its job of fully funding education, our kids would already be in school. The lack of funding runs contrary to our core value that public education is the ladder for opportunity in our society.
“We call on the negotiating team convened by the Governor to reach an agreement that addresses teacher compensation and supports urban school districts as soon as possible.
“As representatives whose districts cover Seattle, many of us are either current or former Seattle Public School parents. We are committed to fully funding our public school system, but must do so without making devastating cuts to our social safety net. We support state programs that keep kids fed and housed since we know that hunger and homelessness are major obstacles to learning.
“In 2012 the State Supreme Court ruled that our state was not meeting its paramount duty of fully funding basic education. Since the original ruling, the state increased K-12 education funding for important elements of basic education such as student transportation, K-3 class size reduction, materials and supplies, and all-day kindergarten. The Legislature is on pace to fully comply with these components of the McCleary ruling by our next budget cycle.
“One major hurdle remains: teacher compensation, and more specifically, who should be funding teacher salaries. In the simplest terms the state is constitutionally obligated to pay teacher salaries. But, for decades, the Legislature has underfunded these allocations forcing school districts to use local levies to make up the difference. On average across the state, districts are paying about 25% of the cost of teacher salaries.
“This cost, which needs to be addressed by the 2017-18 school year, is estimated to be $3.5 billion over a two-year budget cycle.
“There are several solutions on the table, but there is no single magic bullet. It will take the commitment of all four caucuses (House and Senate Democrats and Republicans) and the Governor over the next months to develop a solution that addresses teacher compensation and provides additional resources for urban school districts. Every year we wait is another year our children are not receiving the education they deserve and that we expect as a society. Our kids, our teachers, and our families deserve better.”