OLYMPIA - January 13, 2010 - The Governor should be commended on “Book 2” of the 2010 supplemental budget. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to weigh the budget shortfall with the state’s responsibilities.
I’m encouraged to see that the Governor’s new budget proposal reinstates levy equalization, which is vital to the long-term survival of property-poor districts. She also wants to restore all-day kindergarten, gifted programs and other important programs needed to sustain education for all students.
But the Governor didn’t go far enough. In fact, two cuts from her first supplemental budget remain in Book 2. Together, those cuts will make class sizes larger, not smaller. A program that adds teachers to early grades is being cut by $134 million during the next school year. That program has been funded by the Legislature for nearly 20 years. Second is voter-approved Initiative 728, which provides for smaller class sizes, is cut by $97 million.
Studies have shown, and teachers have confirmed, that the more students in a classroom, the more difficult it is to reach all of them. This is not the direction we need for Washington’s students.
The Quality Education Council, established by 2009’s Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2261, released its first legislative report today. It outlines 13 recommendations necessary to build a firm foundation for a new system of school funding. The first recommendation? No more education cuts. We cannot continue delivering quality education to our students while cutting education spending.
Our state Constitution requires us to “make ample provision for the education of all children” in Washington state. I call on state legislators to restore these damaging cuts. We cannot go back on our Constitutional requirement. Cutting education funding would do exactly that.
Randy I. Dorn
Superintendent of Public Instruction