Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Education bill on its way to the governor

The biggest education bill to come out of Olympia in a very long time, ESHB 2261 passed the House yesterday on a concurrence vote. The bill was heavily amended in the Senate, so getting the House to approve the amendments and pass it on to the governor was a dicey business. Education advocates were out in force, pressing lawmakers to commit to the future of Washington's one million public school students.

From Chris Korsmo, executive director of the League of Education Voters:
ESHB 2261 is an acknowledgement that our state is not living up to its paramount duty [to educate all of Washington's children], and that our teachers deserve the support and resources they need to provide a high quality education for every child. The legislation provides a roadmap for the future to build a stronger and more amply funded education system that will be protected from devastating budget cuts. And, it positions our state to compete for $5 billion in federal funds dedicated to innovation in our public schools.
We passed the plan, but now the really hard work begins: finding the revenue to put the plan into action. That will be a continuing work in progress.

The results of the role call were very interesting. The final vote was 67 yeas to 31 nays, but the interesting part was the party line breakdown: Democrats, 51 for the bill and 12 against, and Republicans, 16 for and 19 against.

The final bill was a weakened version of the original, but still an enormous victory for public education. Virtually all members of the education community supported it, with only the teachers union opposed. These facts make it hard to understand why twelve Democrats bowed to the pressure of the Washington Education Association (the state teachers union) and voted against the bill.

The WEA lobbied hard against the bill, going so far as to say that those who support it are:
...vested interests masquerading as concerned citizens who care for children. They’re denigrating and dismissing those of us who actually educate our state’s children!
To align yourself with a firebrand like that seems like a foolish move. Democratic and Republican legislators who voted against this milestone should have a good explanation for disappointed constituents back home.


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