$40 million for at-risk students as good as gone thanks to WEA


March 26, 2015

CONTACT: Mary Strow, Public Information Officer – (360) 786-7761

 $40 million for at-risk students as good as gone thanks to WEA
Powerful teachers union willing to kill funds ‘all to avoid accountability,’
says Rep. Magendanz

Majority Democrats on the House Education Committee today refused to allow a vote on legislation to open the way for Washington to regain control of nearly $40 million in federal education funds.

The Washington Education Association, the powerful teachers union, strongly opposes the bill and has applied significant pressure to Democratic lawmakers to oppose it as well.

The legislation, SB 5748, makes student growth data from test scores a required part of teacher evaluations. The policy change is necessary for the state to get a waiver from the federal government from certain aspects of the No Child Left Behind act. Washington lost the waiver last year because the Legislature failed to pass legislation similar to SB 5748.

The nearly $40 million in question would normally be used by school districts for customized programs for impoverished, at-risk students. Without the waiver, control over the funds reverts to the federal government, which requires the money to be used for student transportation and private tutoring.

In today’s committee action, Republicans attempted to bring SB 5748 up for a vote. Their motion was rejected on a party line vote. Voting no were Reps. Sharon Tomiko Santos (D-Seattle), Lillian Ortiz-Self (D-Mukilteo), Chris Reykdal (D-Tumwater), Steve Bergquist (D-Renton), Carol Gregory (D-Federal Way), Sam Hunt (D-Olympia), Christine Kilduff (D-University Place), Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines), Gerry Pollet (D-Seattle) and Larry Springer (D-Kirkland), with Rep. Kristine Lytton (D-Anacortes) absent. The vote was 10-10. Motions such as this require a vote of the majority of committee membership, so it needed 11 votes to pass.

Rep. Chad Magendanz, R-Issaquah, the ranking Republican on the committee, called today’s vote “a vote to kill the bill, for all intents and purposes,” since a public hearing on the legislation isn’t scheduled until the education committee’s last meeting before the legislative cutoff for policy bills, and votes immediately after public hearings rarely happen.

“What happened today is a perfect example of why people get cynical about the legislative process,” said Magendanz. “We have a perfectly reasonable bill that is supported by just about everyone except the WEA, but the clincher is that the WEA happens to hold tremendous political power and thus is able to single-handedly crush legislation it doesn’t like.

“School district officials have testified in the Senate Education Committee about the disastrous effects of losing control of this funding. Students across the state are missing out on crucial interventions such as preschool and after-school programs, all because the WEA is opposed to using data from student tests as part of — not as the whole basis for — teacher and principal evaluations.

“To cause this level of harm all in the name of avoiding accountability verifies, in my mind at least, that the WEA’s sole purpose is to protect itself above all else — even above the best interests of vulnerable children.”

For more information about Rep. Magendanz, visit: www.representativechadmagendanz.com.


Rep. Magendanz’s media:
official portrait  silent b-roll  photos on Flickr  YouTube videos  podcast
Washington State House Republican Communications
461 John L. O’Brien Building
P.O. Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600
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Washington State House Republican Communications