I recently heard that Chris Reykdal, the OSPI (Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) for Washington state had requested that the legislature consider making school supplies free to students. After sitting through the 2022 legislative session, watching government funded education get every single funding request granted, I thought: “Surely, they must have money somewhere in the budget for this school supply program.”
As a frame of reference, for the 2021-22 school year, the dollars spent per student was over $22,000 in Seattle Public Schools. Compare that to just five years ago when it was $14,128. We have seen enormous rise in spending in the last 3 school years and there’s nothing to show for it. Students in Washington state were locked out of school for nearly two years, among the longest in the entire country. 70% of Washington students are failing in math and just over 50% are failing in English. And yet, the OSPI, Jay Inslee and the Democrats (and some of the Republicans too) keep coming back for more money from the taxpayers.
Last week, Reykdal announced his plans to “ensure equitable access to critical foundations. “Our youngest learners do not have equitable access to high-quality early learning experiences, and our kindergarten readiness data reflect these opportunity gaps,” said State Superintendent Chris Reykdal. “These proposals aim to close some of these gaps and address some of the financial barriers that impact our students and families. This is an opportunity to better support and prepare our youngest learners to thrive in school.”
30th Legislative District Senator, Claire Wilson, is supporting these proposals and stated: “It is so important that we support our youngest learners and provide them with all the resources they need to have a successful and fulfilling education, that’s why I am proud to stand in support of Superintendent Reykdal’s proposals to decrease barriers to education for scholars across our state. Each of these programs will allow scholars more opportunity to engage in their education and are a huge step forward for Washington’s youngest learners.”
As I started digging to find information about this “school supply” program and the “equitable access to strong foundations” that Reykdal is requesting, I found this chart below. I was utterly shocked and in disbelief to find numbers like this buried in the “school supply” package.
You can review the entire 10-page “proposal” here: Increasing Staffing Allocations to Support Stronger, Safer Schools: 2023-25 Biennial Operating Budget Request (www.k12.wa.us)
Emily Makings of Washington Research Council writes:
For 2023–25, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is asking for a $6.565 billion increase to its general fund–state (GFS) budget. This would be an increase of 25.3% over 2021–23. (Adjusted for inflation, the increase would be 18.7%. That’s on par with spending increases made in response to the McCleary decision on school funding—GFS spending increased by 18.8% in 2015–17 and 17.9% in 2017–19.)
As you can see by the chart below, we will nearly double the education budget from 2015 to 2025.
We continue to spend more and more on education, but the quality continues to plummet. Our students are not just failing academically, but mental and emotional health are at crisis levels due to Covid lockdowns and mandates, the gender ideology and Critical Race Theory being pushed onto these kids in the classroom. We’re adding dollars, but we’re not adding value. Many parents have pulled their children out of government schools altogether for many of the reasons just listed. Many families are taking on the financial burden of private school or homeschool.
There’s an answer to this problem, but the people who like to “play politics” and the teachers unions don’t like it. It’s called SCHOOL CHOICE. It’s a movement that is catching fire across the United States. Many states have passed legislation to allow funding to follow the student – as it should.
Representative Jim Walsh introduced a bill last session that would allow for a $10,000 scholarship that interested families could request for their student. This could be spent on tuition, curriculum materials and other education expenses. The bill didn’t even get a hearing last session. Rep Walsh will introduce this bill again in the 2023 session. Liv Finne, a school choice advocate at Washington Policy Center suggests: “Give everyone the unspent Federal $1.6 billion in Covid relief funds so they can hire tutors for their children.” Another excellent idea that would benefit our children.
What our politicians and special interest groups are doing to our children through the government education system is very harmful and will have lifelong impact. Parents are fighting back and speaking up. We will be very active and vocal in the 2023 legislative session, and I invite you to join us – we are stronger in numbers!
By Julie Barrett, Founder, Conservative Ladies of Washington