State Superintendent Randy Dorn testified today in front of the Senate
Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee about [
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=5475&year=2011 ]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
· 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
In my opinion, you have no choice but to do your job. No more cuts to our