State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn held a press conference this morning intended as a final push for House Bill 2261, the measure that would rewrite the definition of "basic education" and, in time, bring more funding to state schools. As a former union leader, Dorn is making a fairly bold move. Public School Employees of Washington--formerly headed by Dorn and representing support staff such as custodians--supports the bill, according to political director Rick Chisa. But the Washington Education Association, the teachers union, has vociferously opposed it. The union calls it a distraction to dealing with current budget cuts. It would also change the way teacher pay, certification and accountability is handled.
WEA opposition led to the scrapping of an earlier education funding bill proposed in the Senate by Mercer Island Democrat Fred Jarrett (who subsequently announced he is running for King County Executive). HB 2261 is a watered down version, even though it still runs afoul of the teachers union. Dorn pointed to measures in the current bill that he said were significant, such as requiring the state to fund all day kindergarten and increased high school graduation requirements.