Superintendent candidate says teachers should make a minimum of $48K

Apr 25, 2016, 9:13 AM | Updated: 9:50 am

Puyallup schools...



Finding a way to fully fund basic education may not be the job of the superintendent of public instruction, but it’s certainly a topic weighing on the minds of those hoping to replace Washington’s outgoing superintendent Randy Dorn.

Former nurse and current administrator for health programs Robin Fleming told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross that the Legislature needs as much as $10 billion to fully fund basic education. And that money probably wouldn’t pay for universal pre-kindergarten, she says.

Related: Washington lawmakers continue to play kick the can with education

Fleming is one of four candidates vying to replace Dorn. Her opponents include Erin Jones, a Tacoma Public Schools administrator; State Rep. Chris Reykdal; and U.S. Navy veteran and former state rep. Larry Seaquist.

With the Legislature continuing to struggle with the McCleary decision that requires it to find more money for education to meet its “paramount duty” of providing for the education of all children, Fleming believes one option to better fund schools is by raising certain taxes and eliminating the need for school levies.

Fleming says the state needs to bump up teacher salaries in order to retain a workforce that is shrinking as educators choose to leave Washington for better opportunities. Governor Jay Inslee has talked about making starting salaries for teachers $40,000 a year. That’s too low, Fleming says.

“I think it should be $48,000,” she told Dave, using evidence from an advisory work group study.

Fleming says teachers are “fleeing” by the thousands. They are overwhelmed and underpaid, she says, citing teacher frustration over being asked to take responsibility for issues that disrupt the classroom, but may stem from outside it, such as poverty.

“They can’t do it alone and they are being asked to,” she says.

One of the most critical issues impacting the classroom, Fleming says, is mental health and physical health. A third of Washington’s students, she says, have diagnosable health problems.

“We have a lot of problems, Dave,” Fleming said.

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Superintendent candidate says teachers should make a minimum of $48K