Dear HEA Members:
Many thanks to everyone who attended and participated in Tuesday's General Membership meeting, and also to those who had unavoidable conflicts, but were there in spirit. After passionate speakers and lively debate, we voted by 88 percent to join the rolling wave of walkouts across our state to protest the lack of adequate state funding for public education.
Our Day of Action will be Thursday, May 21, and planning for activities that day are underway. All HEA members are expected to participate. This day is our opportunity to join colleagues from all over Washington and send a statement to legislators in Olympia that it's time for a new direction. Success in this strategy will impact your class size, your pay, your health care, materials for students and the number of tests they take.
It's easy for some in our community to suggest that closing schools for a day is too radical a step, but here are a few reminders why IT’S TIME to make a strong, bold statement:
- It's been eight years since the courts ruled against the Legislature, in the McCleary case in 2007, that the state has systematically failed to adequately fund public schools.
- It's been six years since the state has given teachers a raise, even though voters required the Legislature to provide annual adjustments for inflation with an initiative that was voted into law in 2000.
- Even when the state Supreme Court affirmed earlier court rulings and ordered the state in 2009 to adequately fund public education, now, six years later, not one of the budget proposals by the House, Senate or Governor satisfies the progress ordered by the court. Current legislative proposals fall more than $2,000 per student per year short of the $11,345 per student that the Legislature itself pledged it would spend toward meeting McCleary. That means Washington's 1 million public school students, teachers and specialists are being told to do without … again.
- It's been less than a year since voters passed a law requiring smaller class sizes and caseloads for students at all grades, K-12. And yet legislators are already making plans for how they might ignore state law and the will of the voters by reducing class sizes only in grades K-3, and actually increasing class sizes in all other grades above what is required in the law. All students, grades K-12, deserve lower class sizes.
- In each of those years and all of the ones in between, we've attempted to get the attention of the Legislature about the error of their ways. Across the state, we've sent hundreds of thousands of emails, post cards, and messages; made countless phone calls; and held hundreds of meetings, rallies, and public forums.
- Most recently, more than 4,000 educators staged a massive rally in Olympia on April 25 — a Saturday so as not to disrupt classes, and the day the legislative session was scheduled to end. Our legislators' reaction? They cancelled the last day of the session, leaving town a day early so they wouldn't have to face our concerns.
- So, why take this next step of closing schools? Because the stakes are too high for us not to take action. Our Legislature has failed to do what is right, to do what is required by law, to do what is needed so our students get the education they deserve. Our Legislature is failing to FULLY FUND PUBLIC EDUCATION!
Please continue to check your home email, at least daily, for updates. We will communicate details of our May 21 Day of Action as soon as they have been finalized.