Addressing Equity, Opportunity, and Funding in Washington State's Education System
Thursday, May 29th at Town Hall Seattle, 7:30 p.m.
School funding and improving educational outcomes for all our kids are some of the most talked about – and contentious – issues in the state, and will be for years to come.
We are putting together a conversation on May 29th at Town Hall with some of the key voices in the debate as we unpack the State Supreme Court’s McCleary decision and what it means for the budget and our kids. In particular, we’ll look at options for better funding education and the importance of addressing equity issues from early learning through college.
In 2012 the State Supreme Court ruled that the state was failing its paramount constitutional duty of funding basic education and ordered the legislature to increase school funding by 2018. Estimates indicate that the legislature will have to come up with at least $4.5 billion in new education funding to meet the decision.
Two years later, how much progress has been made? How will the state meet is funding requirements for education while also making other critical investments in the state budget? How can we strengthen the entire educational pipeline to ensure better outcomes for all our kids? What is the opportunity gap and how can we better address it? At the event, we’ll begin to unpack some of these crucial questions.
Save the date, spread the word, and plan to join us Thursday, May 29th at Town Hall Seattle.
Tax Day is an opportunity to reflect on our shared investments. Washington state taxes support values that benefit everyone.
In case you missed it, our Senior Fiscal Analyst Andy Nicholas was the feature of Danny Westneat's column in the Seattle Times. Andy's role in trying to make Washington state's tax system more accountable and transparent was highlighted. Read it here.
We have a rare staff opening for a crucial position in our organization. We are seeking an energetic and highly-organized Development Manager to implement our development plan.
This is a key role in helping to grow the organization. The successful candidate will be analytical and creative, collaborate well with a passionate and fun staff, and coordinate and manage multiple projects.
Central to this role is developing and executing our annual appeal, growing the list of individual donors, and supporting the executive director’s engagement of major donors, including some event planning. The development manager will also coordinate grant proposals and reports and solicit sponsorships for the annual conference.
Position is open until filled but candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. To apply, submit a resume, a 1-2 page cover letter specifically addressing your interest in and qualifications for this position, a relevant writing sample, and a list of four current references by email to email@example.com.
The Budget & Policy Center is committed to fostering diversity within our organization and our communities and candidates from diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.
In case you missed it, our Research Director Lori Pfingst had an op-ed in the Seattle Times this week. "Raising the minimum wage isn’t a silver bullet. It wouldn’t solve the problem of income inequality alone, but it is a crucial component of a broad strategy to help workers and our economy. It’s also crucial that this time around we build a more inclusive middle class, where people of color and women have an equal shot at prosperity."
A new KIDS COUNT policy report released today, Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, unveils the new Race for Results index, comparing how children are progressing on key milestones across racial and ethnic groups. Both nationally and in Washington state, no one racial group has all children meeting all the milestones outlined by the report.
In Washington state, using a single composite score placed on a scale of one (lowest) to 1,000 (highest), Asian/Pacific Islander children score highest (760), followed by white (710), African American (423), American Indian/Alaska Native (406) and Latino children (377).
Kids Count in Washington is a partnership between the Budget & Policy Center and the Children's Alliance, which seeks to pursue measurable improvements in the lives of Washington state children.
“Our state’s prosperity depends on the investments we make in all our children,” says Remy Trupin, B& PC executive director. “The data show that children of color continue to face a steep climb. It doesn’t have to be this way. We must do better for all children, their communities, and our future.”
By 2018, children of color will represent the majority of children in the United States. The report highlights the barriers to opportunity faced by African-American, Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native and some subgroups of Asian/Pacific Islander children in achieving success in school and in life.
“Smart policies can close the gaps that put children of color at a disadvantage in life,” says Paola Maranan, executive director of the Children’s Alliance. “We can act to close this opportunity gap, or we can push it wider, swallowing up not only their potential but our shared future.”
The Race for Results index is based on 12 indicators that measure a child’s success for each stage of life, from birth to adulthood. The indicators were chosen based on the goal that all children should grow up in economically successful families, live in supportive communities and meet developmental, health and educational milestones. To compare results across the areas in the index, the indicators are grouped into four areas: early childhood; education and early work; family supports; and neighborhood context.
Join us Thursday, March 27th at Seattle University for a free day-long conference hosted by the Mayor's Income Inequality Advisory Committee, where leaders in the field will discuss the latest data and information about wages, the economy, and inequality. Our Research Director, Lori Pfingst, will be one of the keynote speakers.
At the symposium, experts will unveil new research commissioned by the Mayor’s office on how a $15 minimum wage would affect workers and our local economy.
The symposium will feature leading local & national thinkers on income inequality, including:
- Mayor Ed Murray
- Dorian Warren, Columbia University
- Saru Jayaraman, Restaurant Opportunities Center
- Michael Reich and Ken Jacobs, UC Berkeley
- Lori Pfingst, Washington State Budget & Policy Center
- Marieka Klawitter and Bob Plotnik, University of Washington
- Paul Sonn, National Employment Law Project
- Local elected officials from San Francisco, Chicago, and Philadelphia
For more information about the event, click here.
Coffee, tea, and snacks will be provided, and lunch may be purchased as part of your registration for $5.
By Jillian Pennyman, Narver Fellow -- Washington state has not provided a pay increase for teachers in six years, despite rising costs of housing, food, and gas. The McCleary decision mandates that the Legislature fully fund education, including sizable increases to salaries for teachers and all other K-12 staff. Reinstating cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) is the first step to providing competitive wages that both retain and attract quality educators in Washington state classrooms. The House budget sought to restore previously-suspended COLAs for teachers, but in the final compromise with the Senate, teachers lost.
COLAs help salaries keep pace with the rising cost-of-living so that teachers can make ends meet and provide for their families. In 2000, voters approved Initiative 732, which requires the state to provide annual COLAs to school employees. Despite the voter’s decision, the Legislature suspended teacher COLAs in eight out of 14 years.
As seen from the graph below, teacher salaries have stagnated, remaining far lower than they would have been had they been adjusted along with the rising cost of goods. In the current school year, the average teacher’s salary is more than $5,000 below where it would be if COLAs were in place.
The McCleary ruling requires the state to fully fund basic education by 2018. The State Supreme Court has made it clear that meeting the obligation includes adequately compensating teachers. Pointing to guidance by the Compensation Technical Working Group, the Court suggested that the state needs to invest at least $1 billion more per year above inflationary adjustments in order to bridge the salary gap. Yet, basic cost-of-living adjustments (which would have cost about $55 million to reinstate in the 2014 Supplemental Budget) have yet to be restored, and salaries were even cut by 1.9 percent during the 2011-13 biennium. Prolonging the suspension of COLAs has caused salaries to stagnate.
Inadequate pay makes it more difficult to retain quality teachers, which can have a negative impact on student learning. According to the Teacher Retention and Mobility Report for the Center for Strengthening the Teacher Profession, inadequate salaries are a major reason that school districts have a problem retaining teachers. Educators are more likely to leave the profession when they are not paid an equitable salary, which can negatively affect students and school performance.
While the final budget includes a modest increase in funding for textbooks and classroom supplies, teacher salaries are neglected. The Legislature must get serious about fully funding education, and reinstating COLA adjustments for teachers is an obvious place to start.