A note from Mary
Wow! What an amazing three weeks! Our members have rallied to fight back against any cuts to education and against any changes in our health care plans. The roll call of locals, councils and regions that stood up to the attacks on students and our professions is long -- Snohomish, Mercer Island, Vancouver, Lower Columbia, Evergreen, Everett, Bellingham, Mt. Vernon, Issaquah, Seattle, Renton, Highline, the Tri-Cities, Bellevue and more. And we’re not finished yet!
And while the focus right now has been on the state budget and on efforts to cut our health care plans, our goal is much bigger, more focused further down the road. Let’s not forget that the Washington Supreme Court set a clock ticking. The Legislature has until 2018 to come up with full funding of our schools -- an estimated $6-8 billion in additional money. Every session from now until 2018 will be about finding that level of revenue. The Court retained jurisdiction over the funding lawsuit so it can continue to apply pressure to the legislative process. At the same time, we must apply our own pressure. Brace yourselves. Education will continue to be a political battlefield.
As the state assumes more and more responsibility for the funding of our classrooms, lawmakers will also want to have more and more control over what occurs in those schools. As the saying goes, the person who pays the piper gets to call the tune. We need to be prepared to align ourselves with parents and community members to retain as much local control as possible. We need to be ready to put our ideas front and center of every discussion about how to improve our schools. As educators, we must do a better job of telling our story and pushing real, meaningful reform.
That’s why we’re asking locals to reengage with their members. Conduct one-on-one conversations to find members who are not only passionate about their work with students, but also passionate about building partnerships with community groups and parents. We need to find members who are ready to speak up and be the voice of the professionals in the media and in our neighborhood gatherings.
It’s going to take a shifting of our priorities to put more emphasis on organizing our members, engaging our allies, building a broad coalition to fight for our students -- the work that needs to be done. Are you in? Can I count on you?
What’s next in Olympia?
It’s day 11 of the special session in Olympia, and while rumors abound, no one is sure whether legislators are close to a budget agreement. Media reports indicate there may be a new accounting maneuver that legislators could agree on, but that’s uncertain. The House Democratic budget proposal is much better than the Senate Republican budget plan, which funds charter schools, cuts pension benefits, permanently repeals I-732 and funds the state takeover of K-12 health care.
Meanwhile, only a handful of legislators are in Olympia. WEA members across the state continue to rally against budget cuts, the health care takeover bill (SB 6442) and any other changes to the K-12 health care system. More than 3,000 certificated and ESP members have participated in these rallies. There’s one in Walla Walla tonight, March 22.
Keep current by subscribing to the OurVoice blog, which is updated regularly.
NEA ESP Leaders for Tomorrow
Leaders for Tomorrow is a three-session training process held over an eight-month period that is open to dues-paying NEA ESP members who meet the program’s eligibility requirements. Candidates must be nominated for the program and have their application acknowledged and signed by their state Association. The deadline is April 6. Guidelines, details and the applications can be found online.
Westside ESP Issues Conference
Need to figure out your role and how best to help special education students? How about a refresher on the latest information on how you can keep your school healthy? Or perhaps a class on office software applications? All these -- and more -- will be offered at the WEA ESP Issues Conference on April 28 at McKnight Middle School, Renton. Registration deadline is 5 p.m. April 13.
Dollars for Scholars
WEA-Retired Dollars for Scholars is offering up to five $1,000 nonrenewable scholarships for the purpose of assisting WEA members to enhance skills in specific education areas and/or attain a teaching certificate. Certificated, classified or student WEA members are eligible to apply. Completed applications must be received by April 16. Get application form and details.
Congratulations to Debbie Halstead, Garfield Elementary School, Spokane EA. She has received a $2,000 Learning & Leadership Grant from the NEA Foundation to attend Columbia University's Teacher College Summer Writing Institute to learn best strategies for implementation, including crucial structures and routines that allow teachers to meet the differentiated needs of all student writers.
The NEA Foundation has invested more than $8 million in grants like these to support the work of 2,500 educators in every state in the country to help students succeed. Each year, the Foundation awards approximately 150 Student Achievement and Learning & Leadership Grants. Learn about the projects here.
The Foundation awards its grants to educators three times a year. The next grant deadline is June 1. Application forms and a video with step by step instructions on how to apply can be found here.
Update on State Board of Education
The State Board of Education last met March 14-15 at Green River Community College.
WEA is working with Executive Director Ben Rarick to convince him to invite WEA members to speak before the board about crucial policy decisions. Read to the board at a January meeting, a joint letter from K-12 stakeholder partners made it clear that the board’s credibility has been damaged by refusals to listen to and incorporate the advice and information from practitioners and education stakeholders at building and district levels. It remains to be seen whether the State Board of Education will try to repair this breach of trust caused when they passed rules in November 2011 to increase the number of required courses for graduation. Questions, additional information or comments should be directed to Wendy Rader-Konofalski.
A sea of red. Across the state, WEA members gathered at numerous rallies in an effort to protect their health care and to fight against additional cuts to public education funding.
March 22, 2012
A collection of data
The latest NEA rankings report was released. Updated statistic reports may be found here. Print them out and use them as a discussion starter with your neighbors, colleagues, friends and family.
Victory for collective bargaining
As you probably know, the attack on collective bargaining isn’t only happening in our state -- it’s a nationwide fight. With every fight, someone has to win. Check out what happened in Ohio.
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"Thanks to all who have attended rallies, walked in marches, written emails and talked to your legislators. Your efforts are paying off! Don't let up now!" Read more of Mary Lindquist's latest e-chalk.
Test drive a Mazda today to buy library books tomorrow
Mazda has pledged up to $1 million in support of the nation’s public school libraries through a test drive program. For each test drive of a Mazda vehicle between Feb. 21 and April 2, Mazda will donate $25 toward public school libraries nationwide. Administered by the NEA Foundation, this donation will provide funds to help struggling public school libraries. To participate, consumers must obtain a certificate, take it to any Mazda dealership and test drive a vehicle.
Lake Stevens EA member Christopher Shanholtzer was named Washington State Industrial Technical Educators Association's Teacher of the Year.
Recognized for his enthusiasm for teaching, dedication to students and passion for continuing to learn, he said, “I really appreciate being awarded the WITEA Teacher of the Year, but it is a tough honor to accept when I am surrounded by so many other wonderful teachers, paras, office staff and administrators.”
Dear WEA Board, PAC Board and Local leaders,
With the Republican Senators taking control of Senate floor action Friday evening, we received a glimpse into what the future might hold for our students and profession. Three Democrats (Rodney Tom, Tim Sheldon and Jim Kastama) in a backroom deal cast their votes with the Republican caucus. The end result on consistent 25-24 vote counts? $132.5 million cut from education funding in defiance of the K-12 Supreme Court’s ruling. $40 million more in cuts to higher education. Blatant disregard for open government and listening to the voice of the people. Betrayal of promises made to retirees and National Board Certified Teachers.
Should anyone say to you that it doesn’t matter who wins in an election, point to the actions of the Senate Friday night, March 2, 2012. It matters.
A special session is almost inevitable now. We have to prepare to continue to fight against the takeover of our health care plans (funding for that is included in the Senate budget as Randy describes below) and perhaps other anti-union, anti-educator bills. Thanks for the councils and locals around the state which are engaging our members in these battles. Please keep it up!
And thanks to our lobby staff, Rod Regan, Lucinda Young, Wendy Konofalski, and budget analyst Randy Parr, for their hard work throughout the session, but particularly in these last few days..
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions or concerns.
To see the Senate Budget