Time to celebrate---Initiative 1351 passes!
Thanks to help from all the hardworking LWEA members who volunteered gathering signatures and calling voters, Initiative 1351, the class-size reduction initiative sponsored by WEA, has passed. Currently, Washington State is 47th in the nation in class size. When the initiative is fully implemented, our ranking is predicted to drop to 27th in the nation.
Despite calls from the Seattle Times for the state legislature to overturn the initiative, the chances of that happening are very slim. It would take a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and House to overturn it.
The Seattle Times has a long track record of being anti-union, especially when it involves the Washington Education Association. The newspaper was relentless in its almost daily editorials and ads designed to defeat the initiative. Even after the initiative passed, the Times continues to press for its defeat.
The Times believes that smaller class sizes don't matter. This is a ridiculous claim that any teacher will tell you is completely outrageous. Clearly, students who are in a class of 17 receive far more individual attention than students in a class of 34. Ask any teacher in Vermont---#1 in the nation in class size---if they think having half as many students as teachers in Washington makes no difference in their students' learning.
The Seattle Times, and some legislators, are crying poor because of the Supreme Court's McCleary decision. Now they want I-1351 suspended or repealed because they argue the state can't afford both. They should have thought about that when the legislature, over the course of many years, voted in over 600 tax exemptions and loopholes that are now costing the state $30 billion in lost revenue. (The Seattle Times is among those businesses enjoying a tax exemption voted in specifically for newspapers.)
To add insult to injury, the legislature---while under a court order for failing to fully fund public schools---met in special session and gave Boeing an almost $9 billion tax break. That $9 billion could not only have funded McCleary, but also funded Initiative 1351. And---despite this unprecedented tax cut---Boeing is still sending Washington jobs out of state.
We hope the legislature has the good sense to implement Initiative 1351 when they go into session in January. It's the law. If they fail to uphold this law, you can be assured that WEA members from all over the state, including here in Lake Washington, will do whatever it takes to ensure the will of the people is honored.