WPC’s Liv Finne: Teacher layoffs that hurt education the result of raises

May 13, 2019, 3:53 PM
Liv Finne, teacher layoffs...
Tacoma teachers strike at the beginning of the 2018 school year (AP)

Liv Finne, director of the Washington Policy Center’s Center for Education, said that last summer’s teacher strikes became this summer’s teacher layoffs.

At its meeting Tuesday evening, the Edmonds School District will consider laying off staff members in order to accommodate a budget shortfall of nearly $18 million.

It’s just the latest in a recent trend of school districts turning to teacher layoffs as a way to balance the district checkbook.

RELATED: Teacher union’s greed causing massive deficits for districts

According to Finne, those budgets were stretched when school districts approved large raises for teachers across the state last year.

“These were increases that the districts said at the time they could not afford,” Finne told the Dori Monson Show. “Everybody knew they couldn’t afford them at the time.”

She noted the strikes impacted one in three Washington students.

“It’s not as if we don’t remember that that just happened … this was last September, October — that’s not that long ago,” she said.

Seven years ago, it cost $10,000 to send a Washington student to school for a year. In the wake of the McCleary Decision — the state’s court-ordered obligation to fully-fund education — this number has significantly increased.

“We now are spending nearly $16,000 on average per student,” Finne said. “The amount of money that the state has added to public education has actually doubled since 2012.”

That, she said, adds up to more money per student than most private schools in the state spend, which averages around $12,000.

Ironically, Finne said, while the raises brought increased compensation for senior teachers, the youngest teachers may lose their source of income altogether, because they were the most recent hires.

This means that schools will be over-populated with the older teachers who have been there the longest, rather than the newer teachers who could potentially bring more innovative and recent educational techniques to the table.

“The one who could be the very best teacher is getting laid off, while the senior teacher who is not where he was is getting a huge pay increase,” she said. “What’s happened here is that a huge amount of money has been directed to give the highly-paid teachers in the schools even higher salaries, and the cost will be paid by the young teachers coming into our schools.”

For Finne, this is exactly the opposite of what educational funding should be accomplishing.

“How is this fair to the students in our schools?” she asked. “How does this deliver a quality education to every child? It’s not happening. It’s not happening.”

Dori Monson on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
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WPC’s Liv Finne: Teacher layoffs that hurt education the result of raises