Educator: Inslee’s education budget is ‘dead on arrival’

Jan 16, 2017, 5:19 AM | Updated: 6:52 am

Washington state lawmakers will attempt to fully fund K-12 education this session. It’s a daunting task that has been ordered by the state’s supreme court. Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed a budget to get the job done. But Inslee’s efforts will be in vain, if you ask one education veteran.

“That’s dead on arrival,” Erin Jones told KIRO Radio’s Seattle Morning News. “There’s no way the Republicans are going to support that.”

Related: Superintendent candidate Erin Jones blasts The Stranger for tokenism, getting it wrong

Jones finished second in her bid for the state superintendent of public instruction during the last election, losing to Chris Reykdal by less than 28,000 votes. Jones is an administrator in the Tacoma School District and has also worked in the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Inslee, a Democrat, submitted a budget to the legislature that includes a carbon tax, as well as a capital gains tax as a means of funding education. But Jones says that budget is one-sided and is not going anywhere.

“The reality is that you got to find something that both Democrats and Republicans can agree to,” Jones said. “Every proposal that (Inslee) has made is something that has already been proposed either last year or the year before. Not one of them passed the last time around. I think they are going to have to get into a room and talk about something new that both parties can agree to.”

Washington education

But tax plans are only part of the problem, according to Jones. Washington has to change its perspective on how to fund education. State officials generally look at the budget and think of paying teachers and administrators first. They need to be paid well, she notes, but it’s not an efficient way to budget.

Instead, officials need to consider education funding more akin to resource management.

“When a school district like Everett can raise additional resources outside of what the state gives it by significant numbers and pay teachers more, and provide more after-school activities,” Jones said. “But a district 20 miles away can’t do that and can only pay teachers half that. I think we need to look at the state of equity. What does it mean to make sure that your zip code is not the greatest predictor of how teachers will get paid?”

“Right now, all we are hearing is that we need to pay teachers more, we need to pay teachers more, we need to pay administrators more,” she said. “Even as the governor put out his plan, the only thing I saw articulated in his plan is that we are going to pay teachers more and pay administrators more. For the general public, I think that doesn’t go over well … I think the message needs to be different. We got to start talking about what we want to accomplish with education, and lay out what it will take to create a public education system that serves every child well.”

“I think when the general public hears we are going to pay the adults working in education more,” she added. “That’s not enough to make anyone want to take on another tax.”

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Educator: Inslee’s education budget is ‘dead on arrival’