Teachers Vent Their Anger Over Cuts

The Washington Education Association held a press conference yesterday in an attempt to sound the alarm about the roughly $2 billion of cuts in education funding likely to be approved by the Legislature this session. The union says the cuts will be devastating and cost 5,000 jobs, but so far it's hard to get a grasp on what that will mean inside the classroom. While teachers warn of increased class size, nobody really knows yet how the cuts will play out. But I was struck by the sheer anger of one teacher who wrote to me this morning.

"I have given up my evenings, my weekends, my summer and thousands of dollars of my money to try to give my kids the education they deserve," e-mailed Orca Elementary teacher Kent Daniels. "I am told constantly that we teachers cannot be trusted, that we need to prove that we're doing our jobs, that our profession needs to be reformed, that we need to be paid by merit that is measured by nothing but test scores. The assumption is always that we are broken and need to be fixed. WHAT IS BROKEN IS THE STATE FUNDING FORMULA."

His anger is understandable. We do blame everything on teachers--and fail to acknowledge all the time and money they put into their job-- when school performance often has a lot more to do with societal problems like poverty. So it's not entirely clear that more money, through a change in the state funding formula for education, would solve everything. Nevertheless, the current legislative attempt to change the funding formula is the most exciting thing going on in education at the moment. It's worth noting, though, that the WEA has been lobbying against the bills that have been put forward in large part because of the way they would change teacher pay and certification. A bill that attempts to address some of those concerns is still working its way through the Legislature, but WEA spokesperson Eddie Westerman says the union is opposed to that one as well.

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